8 Ways to Support Your Employees' Professional Growth

Allowing employees to grow professionally /
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Approx. 4 min. read
Last updated: June 29, 2018

A workplace develops only as fast as its employees. How can HR, management and team leaders make sure their employees’ professional growth stays on track?

Employees are faced with growing pressure to develop themselves and adapt to quickly changing working environments. Without good operational structures, the right mentality from leadership, and a thriving work culture, it is impossible for employees to develop their skills to fit the changing needs of today’s workplaces.

Many companies place too little value on training. In fact, only 39 percent of European companies offer training and apprenticeship programs, and most companies rather buy talent than invest in developing it internally. But investing in the professional development of your employees improves employee retention and employee wellbeing and results in a more skilled workforce, and all of these factors are vital to the success of any company. So how can companies support the professional growth and development of their employees?

1. Combine Organizational and Personal Needs

Professional development plans often fail to address the issues of personal energy and motivation. The needs for personal development are often discussed from the point of view of the needs of the organization, not the needs of the individual. Professional development can and should, however, benefit and interest both the individual and the company. If the hopes and opinions of the individual are ignored and instead a professional development plan is done only to benefit the company, the employees may become less motivated and engaged in their workplace. This could have an effect on both their job performance and their willingness to stay on the job.

2. Review and Polish Goals Regularly

Companies cannot assume employees will always independently develop the capabilities to be successful in their job. Time and resources must be allocated to personal professional development: it doesn’t simply happen by itself “on the job”. Professional development goals must be set up, followed and adjusted regularly. Many employees face fast changes in their workplace, and goals should be reviewed and changed quarterly. The goals should be agreed upon together with the manager and the employee, and they should include a time frame and a roadmap to achieving each goal.

Goal-setting session between manager and employee

3. Promote From Within

When deciding on the future needs of your company, instead of automatically looking to recruit, consider training someone from your current workforce. Your employees are already privy to your company, its products, and services. The time they may have to take in educating themselves to a new position is partly reimbursed by the fact that they don’t need to take time onboarding. According to Gallup, a third of employees who have quit their job report the lack of career advancement or promotional opportunities as the reason for leaving. So selecting employees from the current workforce for new positions instead of always recruiting externally has a great impact employee retention as well.

Promoting from within improves employee engagement as well and provides motivation for employees to develop themselves professionally. It also saves money and resources which would otherwise go into recruitment.

4. Encourage Cross-Functional Collaboration

Employees have their own department and their own tasks, but the tasks tend to change over time. When planning for future tasks and setting up new development targets, why not look at other departments and see if your employee could be successful in some interdepartmental cross-functions? As automation and the advancement of digital technologies liberate employees from specific routine tasks, they could well be trained to take on some roles beyond their original department. As one reason why employees often leave their workplace is to pursue new responsibilities, offering new tasks and roles for your employees beyond their original job description adds to your employee retention while letting them grow professionally.

5. Provide Learning Resources

Using an internal content hub is an excellent way to make sure your employees stay informed and on top of their tasks. An internal content hub helps you store relevant resources and add company news, but it can also be used to share knowledge about current relevant industry trends. You can support your employees’ learning processes by adding handbooks, guides and other interesting and educational material to your content hub. You can also encourage your employees to share information they find relevant and encourage discussions around interesting industry trends.

Read next:

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