An important but often overlooked type of benefit that organizations can offer employees is opportunities for professional development. By encouraging employees to enhance their professional skills, businesses will not only be supporting them in their own careers but also improving the company by providing it with a more educated and skilled workforce.
There are many positive ways to offer these opportunities to employees. Here is a look at some of the most effective approaches being implemented by modern businesses.
1. Ask Them About Their Developmental Needs
Although this may appear to be an obvious step, you may be surprised by how much you can learn by consulting with your employees about their developmental needs. HR representatives and team managers should meet with each employee on a regular basis to discuss their job performance and those areas in which professional development could benefit them as well as the company at large.
Be sure to ask them for suggestions for improvement as this shows them that your company cares about their future. Ideally, you should create an environment in which employees feel free to suggest professional and academic development programs that could help them. Although you do not have to enact every suggestion you receive, this insight can be incredibly valuable in guiding your efforts.
2. Take Advantage of Technology
Online learning has made incredible advancements in recent years, and it is now easier and more affordable than ever to use it to your advantage to foster a culture of learning in your workplace. It is a great way to help employees stay on top of the latest developments in the industry, and it comes with many benefits.
First, many online development courses are highly flexible, which means that employees can fit in sessions during slower times at work and study whenever it is most convenient for them. This also makes it easier to track their progress. Perhaps one of the biggest benefits of online learning is that it is a very simple way to offer a range of professional development courses, even if there are no qualified instructors in your area.
3. Consider Internal Mentorship Programs
One highly affordable option for small businesses to encourage professional development is to establish internal mentorship programs. This is a great way to help your employees connect with each other. Consider asking more seasoned employees to pair up with newer ones or those who are hoping to climb up the professional ladder; with the right mentorship pairing, both parties will learn from each other. You might also consider setting up brainstorming groups that meet from time to time to discuss ideas, improve tools and create prototypes.
4. Establish a “Lunch and Learn” Program
Take advantage of the connections that you have formed with experts in your field by asking them if they would be interested in leading in-house training sessions for your employees. These could take the form of informal sessions, such as “lunch and learn” programs.
This approach is becoming increasingly popular and entails having an expert present to your team and then inviting employees to take part in creative discussions with the expert over a meal. The company typically pays for the lunch, which gives staff members motivation to attend, builds a positive association with these sessions, and enables employees to get further education without occupying too much of their spare time.
5. Try Cross-Departmental Training
Another very affordable way to provide your employees with professional development is by setting up cross-departmental training. This entails asking employees from different departments within the company to share their expertise with colleagues in other departments. Cross-departmental training enables employees to learn new skills they may not have developed in their daily work. This is typically a low-pressure approach that enables you to make the most of employees who have specific expertise.
6. Offer Tuition Reimbursement
Empower your employees to advance their education by offering them tuition reimbursement for adult education or college courses. This not only demonstrates that your business cares about their individual aspirations, but it also benefits the company by providing it with a highly educated staff possessing specialized knowledge.
7. Provide Opportunities for Leadership
Although it may not be as structured as formal professional development programs, providing employees with extra leadership opportunities is an excellent way to help them advance their career. Start a conversation with some of your standout employees and find out if they are interested in taking on greater responsibilities and provide them with opportunities to take the lead on certain projects or take on new duties.
8. Reward Participation
One way to encourage employees to take advantage of the various professional development opportunities you are offering is by providing them with incentives to participate. Many times, employees already feel that their workload is overwhelming, and participating in professional development may seem to be just another thing to do on an already long list of tasks.
However, if you provide rewards to employees who take initiatives such as online courses or attending onsite events, you may find greater interest. Whether you give out small gifts, arrange for paid training or enter employees in raffles, there are plenty of great ways to inspire your employees to participate.
9. Provide Employees With Regular Feedback
It is a good idea to meet with your employees on a regular basis to provide them with constructive feedback and give them advice on improving their career skills.
Be sure to take the time to praise their successes and publicly recognize those employees who have a high aptitude for specific areas, and be sure to inform them of any professional development opportunities offered by your company that are related to the areas in which they have aptitude. Your employees will be more motivated to take advantage of professional development if they understand which areas they should be focusing on.
Discuss Your The Goals Of Your Company With Business Benefits Group (BBG)
To learn more about how offering the right benefits and professional development opportunities can drive employee retention and attract qualified job candidates, schedule a consultation with the experts at Business Benefits Group (BBG) today. Contact us online or call today (844) 201-3612.