Employee development used to be a luxury businesses could indulge in, if and when they had the resources for training. That’s no longer the case. To maintain a competitive edge in today’s marketplace, employers simply must put a priority on building the skills sets of their workforce, if only to contend with ever-constant changes in both technology and market conditions.
If you’re looking to accelerate the quality of employee development within your organization, here are several tips to keep in mind:
A commitment to development begins at the top.
Sometimes employees are sent the message that training is all-important, but then they see little participation or support among senior management. This disconnect can weaken an employee development initiative right from the start.
“Executive buy-in is essential, and training programs can flourish when upper management recognizes the value of training, provides support, and participates in creating concrete objectives,” writes HR expert Steve Rossetti. Never forget, he adds, “that senior management are employees, too.”
If you’re a TAB Member (or thinking of becoming a TAB Member), you’re already demonstrating a commitment to developing your own skills—a point well worth making as you bolster your employee training program.
Make training a regular part of each employee’s work schedule. A one-time “training event” rarely delivers much return on investment, experts say. It’s more efficient to establish a schedule of ongoing development workshops or classes, because (a) this sets up the expectation and understanding among employees that training is a key part of their job responsibilities; and (b) continuous training reinforces key lessons and makes far more of an impact than any once-a-year or semi-annual event.
Offer a range of learning options. Training is not the type of program that succeeds with a “one-size-fits-all” structure. Obviously, employees (like anyone else) learn at their own pace—not to mention having different workloads and job responsibilities—so it’s more effective to provide flexible learning options, including mobile and on-demand opportunities for training that better fit their schedules and ability to absorb new information.
This is particularly important, considering an average workplace might have as many as five different generations of employees working there. A serious commitment to development involves recognizing how different generations best absorb new information (millennials, for example, expect training to incorporate mobile devices as part of the learning process), in order to succeed.
If all this sounds like a significant expenditure of time and resources, remember the benefits your organization will reap with an effective employee development program:
Aids in recruitment and retention. The ability to acquire knowledge and further one’s career through training is a powerful recruitment and retention tool. Higher-quality job candidates will look more closely at your company if they see a genuine commitment to training built into your culture. In this way, your business can emerge as an employer of choice in the hunt for new, high-quality job candidates.
Builds a cadre of potential leaders. Employees who might otherwise be “stuck” in their positions can, through proper development, emerge as authentic leaders in their own right. In this way, you’re gaining a talent pool of potential team leaders and managers—a significant benefit, when you consider all the effort required to look outside the organization for such individuals.
Keeps your focus on the future. Employee development necessarily centers around changes in meeting customer needs and adapting to new conditions in the marketplace. This focus on what lies ahead benefits everyone in the organization—from HR and marketing to IT and sales. It keeps everyone on their toes and looking ahead, rather than backward at “what worked in the past.”
Companies that go beyond paying lip service to employee development reap the benefits of this type of initiative. Don’t overlook the value of a skilled, learning workforce as a key ingredient towards the growth of your business.
Want more advice on employee development or general advice from other business owners like you? Find out if a TAB Board is right for you!