Category All, Best Practices Employee Development: 8 Ways to Drive Continuous Employee Growth There are numerous benefits of employee development for employees and employers alike. Find out how to drive continuous employee growth in your company. July 24, 2020 By Sara Ana Cemazar Employee development is beneficial for company’s success as well as for individual employee’s career. Developing employees is a strategic way to grow organization, improve productivity and decrease employee turnover. Many organizations fail to provide employees’ development, and in the end it costs them their reputation, ruins their employer brand and leads to stagnation in business success. There are multiple benefits of investing in employee development, but it is important to know what are the ways to encourage and support it. Also, manager’s role in employee development is crucial, so keep on reading to find out all the ways to drive continuous employee growth. 📚 Before we start, take a look at these questions employees use to evaluate their employers. Employee Growth and Development Defined Employee development is a process of investing in improving, refining and encouraging of employees’ existing skills, and supporting development of the new ones. Employee development allows employees to expand their knowledge and skill set, which equips them to carry out more complex work. In other words, employee development allows employees to take on higher-ranking roles and advance in their careers. At the same time, employee development benefits organizations, who are molding their employees’ skillset to match their mission and business goals. How to Encourage and Support Employee Development Supporting employees’ development is something every organization should do as it has many benefits for the company. However, many employers fail to encourage employee growth and do not provide resources to do so. Still, 68% of employees say training and development are company’s most important policies. 1. Offer training from the start It is best to let your employees know that their growth is a priority during onboarding. By offering professional training from the get-go, you are building your employees’ awareness of possibilities for their growth. It also shows your organization’s commitment and interest in developing its own employees’ skills. 2. Accentuate soft skills According to LinkedIn, 91% of talent professionals agree that soft skills are very important to the future of recruiting and HR. In other words, workplaces are now increasingly recognizing teamwork, leadership, collaboration and time management as desirable skills among their employees. Indeed, soft skills are harder to adopt, but the team of highly functional employees with developed soft skills guarantees productive workplace with great results. Therefore, try organizing trainings and workshops to develop soft skills among your employees. It will also benefit your company culture. 3. Create individual development plans According to research, 74% of employees do not believe they are reaching their full potential. This is worrying, but also leaves a lot of space for improvement. Try approaching all your employees individually and create development plans according to their own preferences and your company’s goals. 4. Allow for personal development Your employees’ development does not have to be directly connected to their career or line of business. Employee development must be holistic and allow for growing and learning skills that are beneficial for employees on a personal level. In fact, facilitating employee wellbeing can be seen as a method of personal employee development. Enabling your employees to grow intellectually, balance their emotions or get in better physical shape indirectly benefits their work performance. 📚 A good time to create individual employee development plans is during employee reviews. Find out what are the best employee evaluation practices managers should follow. 5. Offer continuous employee feedback Employee feedback is one of the most important tools at your disposal for enabling employee growth. When employees get comments on their performance, they know what they are doing well and in which areas to improve. This is crucial for their development, as it makes them aware of skills they could develop in order to get ahead. 6. Recognize your employees’ work Similar to feedback, your employees’ growth depends on encouragement of skills, actions and behavior that are positive and in line with your company’s vision. This is why employee recognition is essential for employee development. It makes your employees feel appreciated and secure, also allowing for self-confidence to improve. 📚 Get our Employee Recognition Playbook to learn how to build an effective employee recognition program in your company. 7. Allow for easier top-down and peer-to-peer collaboration Research tells us that over 70% of learning on the job occurs informally. It is important that your employees seize the opportunity to learn from their coworkers as well as from their superiors. Therefore, you should find ways to facilitate communication and collaboration across departments and across your organizational hierarchy. In other words, you should make your employees feel comfortable reaching out to their superiors or peers asking for help, advice or collaboration. 8. Offer resources If you do not speak and directly offer the resources for employee development, your employees will rarely come up to you and ask for them. Let your employees know that it is not only allowed but also encouraged by the company to take professional training and develop new skills. More specifically, do the following: a. Inform your employees of internal learning resources (online trainings, eBooks and more) during onboarding, and remind them to use these resources once in a while. b. Make sure your employees know that there is a budget for their professional training, and that company will sponsor the conferences, workshops and other education that they ask for. c. Send a newsletter to your employees with a list of workshops, conferences or other events they might benefit from. In other words, proactively offer ways to develop. d. Organize workshops internally. Enable your employees to learn from each other and take on the coaching role on occasions. 7 Benefits of Investing in Employee Development The best marker of how beneficial it is to invest in employee development is the fact that companies are putting more and more resources into it. In 2016, spend on corporate training was over $70 billion in the US, followed by the more than $90 billion spent in 2017. So, what are the exact benefits of investing in employee development? 1. Remaining competitive Companies are competing for market share which translates to business profits. According to research, investing in training leads to up to 24% higher profit margins. Furthermore, companies will remain competitive among the candidates that will eventually become their employees. 2. Forestall skill shortage 75% of HR professionals who have recruiting difficulties say there is a shortage of skills in candidates for job openings. By investing in your own employees’ development, you are able to deal with the skill shortage by training your own workforce to match the future company needs. It is a great way to save money while offering your employees to acquire skillset that is competitive on the market. 3. Improving cross-departmental collaboration By investing in employee development, you will expand your employees’ horizons and facilitate adoption of new skills. If your employees learn how to use their soft skills, they will improve cross-departmental collaboration, making the end-product high quality. After all, when people of different backgrounds and ways of thinking collaborate, innovation and creativity peak. 4. Boosting employee motivation and morale Employee motivation is vital for your employees’ work productivity. When you invest in your employee development, your employees know what they can expect if they work hard: they will acquire new skills and be more competitive on the market, which leads to the career advancement, more meaningful and responsible work, etc. The awareness of company’s interest in employee development is also a strong employee morale booster. 5. Reducing employee turnover Any HR Professional knows how costly employee turnover is, and how hard it is to retain employees if company does not invest in them. After all, the market for employees with high quality skills is very competitive these days. 📚 It is useful to note that facilitating employee development is one of the best strategies for reducing employee turnover. In fact, 40% of employees with poor training will leave the company within the first year, while whopping 93% of employees would stay at a company longer if it invested in their careers. 6. Increasing employee productivity Similar to the previous point, your employees’ productivity will be higher if they know that the company is willing to facilitate their growth. Younger employees today especially value opportunities for development, citing this as one of the main traits of attractive employers. In other words, your employees will work harder if they know their work is not in vain and will be rewarded with opportunity to learn and advance professionally. 7. Improving employer brand Although companies invest in employee development first and foremost do improve their business results and improve employee retention, a positive consequence of taking care of employee growth turn out to be great employer branding. Therefore, interview your employees about their career path within the company for your organization’s blog and promote more success stories internally and externally. The Manager’s Role in Employee Growth and Development Although the planning for employee development is a cross-departmental effort, managers are the ones in direct contact with your employees every day. Managers set the example and someone to look up to for your employees. Furthermore, managers should be in charge for detecting their employees’ potential and proposing in which direction to develop them. 📚 Before you continue, learn about different management styles your managers can apply in your organization. Help your managers become better leaders It is worrying that 58% of managers say they did not receive any management training. Without learning how to be good leaders to their teams, your managers will fail in enabling growth to their subordinates. Therefore, the first step in facilitating your employees’ development is training your managers into enabling that same development. Listen to employees Your managers need to learn not only how to lead, but also how to listen. In order to manage successful teams, managers should check their employees’ pulse and be aware of their feelings and grievances. By doing that, managers will successfully detect problems. More importantly, by closely collaborating and listening to their employees, managers will realize their employees’ potential and propose most useful training or workshops. 📚 Ensure your managers have the right tools to facilitate your employees’ growth. SurveyRocks can help your managers listen to their teams by sending them customized surveys as work happens. Set the example Did you know that managers account for 70% of variance in your employees’ engagement? Well, it is an excellent show of how important it is to set the right example. The way your managers work, talk, collaborate and lead will have an immense impact on your employees’ performance. A good manager will facilitate employees’ development by allowing their potential to flourish. Foster learning culture It is important that your managers foster learning culture among their team members. Creating a list of weekly or monthly literature, setting aside a few workhours per week for education or joint workshops are just some of the ways your managers can help your employee development. Regular employee reviews As explained earlier, feedback is the most important element of your employee development. Therefore, you must educate your managers on how to give employee reviews and encourage them to give feedback and recognition as often as they can. During employee reviews, it is important not only to evaluate your employees’ performance, but also to ask in which areas do they want to develop, how you as their manager can help them do that, and propose the direction to go to by suggesting certain workshops, courses or other educational means. Provide the right technology Your managers’ job is already hard and probably intense, so it is crucial to provide the right technology to them in order to seamlessly carry out their leadership activities. In other words, your managers should be able to do create, send and analyze employee surveys easily, as well as smoothly recognize and give feedback to their team members. Check out how they can do that will employee recognition, feedback and survey tools within our Employee Success Platform and see your employee development soar.