Employee development is on the rise, with more workers citing this as a workplace value that truly matters.
According to a 2016 survey, 68% of workers believe that training and development are the most critical workplace policies. That same survey uncovered that 87% of millennials find professional development or career growth opportunities very important.
Given the importance of professional growth in hiring and retaining excellent employees in the tech industry, it’s a topic worth understanding. Here we’ll discuss exactly what employee development is, why it matters, and the different ways you can begin implementing it.
What is Employee Development?
Employee development refers to the process where employees improve their skills and expand their knowledge through employer-supported professional training.
A critical characteristic of this development is that it doesn’t solely relate to the person’s skill set in their current role. The hallmark of true professional growth is that employers want to better their employees as it relates to the workers’ career path, not only their position at the employer’s organization.
Why Does Professional Development Matter?
Creating a culture that places employee development at its core attracts and retains the best talent. Given 79% of HR leaders believe they suffer from an engagement and retention problem, it’s time to make growth a priority.
One survey found that 74% of people feel they aren’t reaching their full potential due to an absence of development opportunities. Even more powerful: the number one reason people quit is that they don’t feel there are sufficient future career opportunities with their current company.
Unfortunately, an absence of development opportunities doesn’t only affect current employees; it can deter potential ones, too. A Glassdoor study found that 77% of adults across four countries consider company culture before applying. If you aren’t fostering employee development, culture takes a hit.
The good news? Promoting professional development can mediate these problems.
6 Easy Employee Development Ideas to Try Today
The following employee development methods can help you create a culture that values personal and professional growth. Especially in the tech industry, providing your workers with the chance to grow their skill set is doing them, and you, a considerable service.
We can all learn a lot from our peers. Being paired with someone who accomplished what you want to do or whose career path is your dream means you’re able to learn from their mistakes and successes. This is particularly relevant when hiring developers or other tech employees.
HR Daily Advisor found that for 67% of employees, their mentor isn’t their manager. While it’s beneficial to have structured time with one’s manager, that alone won’t be sufficient.
This employee development idea works great and is cost-effective to implement, but it only works if the mentor is as excited as the mentee. You won’t want to force anyone into a mentorship program, and there should be a vetting process to ensure mentors are willing and able to aid mentees.
Consider sending out a survey asking for mentor volunteers; you can pair people based on interest and experience from there.
Employee Forum or Channel
If your company uses a popular communication app such as Slack, consider creating a channel for employees to share ideas, ask for help, and collaborate naturally. This goes well with peer mentorship programs since it serves as a natural way for like-minded individuals to find mentorship opportunities.
This is one of many employee development strategies that promotes cross-training, where sales can learn about marketing, product can learn about operations, and anything in between. Cross-functionality is a huge benefit for many employees when climbing the ladder.
As an employer, you can encourage employees to sign up for memberships to industry organizations. These professional groups, such as the Association of International Product Marketing & Management and the Sales Management Association, host workshops, webinars, write informative content, and otherwise produce material that helps level up employees.
Much of this information can be found for free, but employers can sponsor paid memberships if necessary. Encourage managers and team leads to talk about relevant organizations to excite employees about joining.
Encourage Upward Growth
Shockingly, over 70% of high-retention-risk employees are considering quitting because they don’t feel they can grow at their company.
Make upward growth a top priority at your company by promoting from within wherever you can. Encourage employees from all departments to attend professional development events, whether they directly relate to their work or not, as this helps build their skill set for lateral opportunities.
Further, you can host regular training and leadership development conferences, helping your employees grow, take charge, and expand the company from within.
Develop Soft Skills
You can possess all the technical skills in the world, but employee development means expanding soft skills such as communication, leadership, time management, and productivity. These qualities make a well-rounded employee who can take on more tasks and grow into leaders.
You want to incentivize employees to work on their soft skills. One large advisory firm created digital badges for the completion of training sessions to serve as recognition. Companies can also implement digital courses, conferences, and training to help workers build soft skills.
Collaborative Goal Setting
Instead of having management set people’s goals, make this a team process. Share large-scale plans and let employees self-delegate how to accomplish these. This allows those ready for a challenge to step up to the plate without penalizing those who may need more time.
Create conversations around overall motivation and workplace accomplishments during these discussions; this ensures all workers are feeling empowered and that you aren’t glossing over those who need more support.
You can use Justwork’s goal-setting worksheet as a starting point.
Final Word on Employee Development
The importance of professional development can’t be understated. The best companies make this a central part of their job descriptions to attract the right talent, and then they make sure to build a company culture that prioritizes growth. You can use any of the six employee development strategies mentioned above to begin overhauling your organization.
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