Employers often seek the best benefits to improve recruitment efforts and boost employee morale. When these benefits also positively impact productivity, it's a win-win for workers and employers.
There's no better benefit to check those boxes than professional development opportunities for your employees. Examples of development opportunities include online learning platforms, paid junkets to seminars and workshops, and employer-sponsored schooling.
When companies invest in employee training, employees can improve their skills and incorporate new knowledge and skills into their daily work while pursuing their professional goals. We explore professional development in the workplace, how it benefits employers and employees, and how these programs can be incorporated into small businesses.
What is professional development in the workplace?
Once employees begin their assigned role in a small business, they continue to grow. It is the company's responsibility to foster that growth and ensure that employees have opportunities for professional advancement.
This doesn't just provide a path for promotion and traditional advancement. That means giving your employees the tools they need to learn and grow. By prioritizing the long-term game with your employees, you foster a dynamic work environment where employees don't remain stagnant and satisfied.
Professional development involves introducing new skills to employees while honing existing hard and soft skills in the workplace. Programs should center around the company's overall mission of creating an environment where all employees move toward a common end goal.
Remember, many companies are pouring money into employee development programs. However, if you don't align your development strategy around a common goal that aligns with the overall mission of your business, your employees may end up feeling like they have to attend boring “promotion” seminars.
The key to building a professional development program within your organization is to tailor it to each employee and align it with the company's overall mission.
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What are some of the benefits of popular professional development?
Professional development opportunities include online learning, workplace-sponsored events, external seminars and workshops, and membership in professional organizations. Professional development may also include support for educational costs from your employer.
Access to new skill sets
“Today's employees are undoubtedly eager to learn and master new skills. By leveraging innovations that accelerate employee learning, the association is able to increase employee well-being while retaining competency. capabilities,” said Allie Jones, technical writer at SysTools.
Many employers also offer access to online learning platforms such as Lynda and Degreed. These platforms allow employees to progress through learning based on preset pathways, while also allowing managers to create pathways that help employees grow in their organizational roles. Masu. It typically includes rewards and gamification opportunities to encourage learning.
According to the Society for Human Resource Management's (SHRM) 2020 Employee Benefits Report, the most common types of education and professional development opportunities provided by employers include professional organization memberships, external events, Includes on-the-job training and courses.
Cost reduction through tuition refund
Another common professional development benefit is tuition reimbursement. In a survey of 2,000 employees conducted by Better Buys, 53% of respondents had access to an employer-sponsored tuition reimbursement program. Employers can receive up to $5,250 in educational assistance benefits tax credits per employee each year. Employees may save on education costs and consider those savings to be a major perk of working for the company.
Attract the right talent by advertising your tuition repayment plan to prospective job candidates in exchange for a potentially reduced salary. Not all candidates have access to tuition reimbursement plans, but you'll likely appreciate having one available.
“Whatever your plan is to make continuing education part of your business growth, you need to do it,” says Jones. “Investing in your employees is one of the best ways to show them you care about them personally.”
For a successful hiring process, create clear and specific job descriptions, identify potential internal candidates, and reach out to references early in the process.
How does professional development benefit employers?
There are three important ways professional development opportunities can benefit employers. These help employers recruit new employees and retain existing employees, and also help employees acquire skills that are used for the benefit of the company.
1. The educational program is a recruitment benefit.
Promotable CEO Aaron Filous said that in an environment where employees move rapidly from job to job, professional development opportunities are a compelling draw for new talent.
“Whether or not your employees stay for decades, there's still value in providing continuing education,” Firouz said. “This is a great perk for recruiters, showing that the company cares about the employee's growth. It's better to hire employees with these skills.”
In the SHRM report, 48% of HR professionals cite training and education programs as the most effective recruitment tool at their disposal. According to the Better Buys survey, 78% of respondents currently have access to professional development, and 92% believe access is important or very important.
Research shows that employees who have access to professional development opportunities are 15% more engaged in their work, which leads to a 34% increase in retention rates. This means these employees are more productive every day and less likely to leave their positions, saving employers an average of 6 to 9 months of an employee's salary in turnover costs. Masu.
“Recruitment is expensive and time-consuming,” Firouz said. “It is often easier and cheaper to retain your own talent or hire from within. Training and upskilling employees further opens up the talent pool that already exists for an employer. Masu.”
The four main recruitment models are traditional recruitment, outsourced recruitment, light internal recruitment, and high-volume internal recruitment.
2. Development programs increase employee retention.
Professional development gives current employees an additional reason to stay on the job. It's a way to empower your staff. With all the professional development opportunities you offer, your employees can enhance their resumes and gain the skills to advance to another position within your company. Instead of hiring from outside, you can promote people who are already familiar with your company.
One of the most important reasons employees stay for professional development is because it makes them feel valued. Your employees will be happy that you're investing in their future. They may stay loyal to your business rather than look elsewhere for a promotion. Employee morale improves when you can expand your skill set and add more value to your resume.
Another morale-boosting perk is flextime. This gives employees the autonomy to create work schedules that lead to improved work-life balance.
3. Professional development develops hard and soft skills.
Professional development is a clear benefit for employees who want to improve their skills and value in the marketplace. It increases your marketability to employers, which can help you advance within your company or continue pursuing your career goals elsewhere. But it's also a boon for employers, who benefit from a more skilled and satisfied workforce and become an attractive tool for attracting new, inherently motivated employees.
Professional development helps employees keep learning new skills, especially in the technology field. Technology is evolving at a lightning pace, and training your staff on the latest programs and tools is essential. Employer-sponsored professional development opportunities are the definition of a win-win.
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Three types of skill development programs that employees want
It's important to understand the types of programs and opportunities your employees want to take advantage of. By communicating directly with your employees, you can build a program that works for everyone. Here are some ideas to get you started.
Online training sessions and webinars
In the age of Zoom calls, online training is probably one of the most popular professional development opportunities. These sessions have many benefits, including the ability to directly track employee progress. Online training sessions are often a low-cost and time-sensitive training approach because employees can participate in online sessions as their schedules allow.
The downside to online training and webinar learning is that it's difficult to connect directly with your employees. While guest speakers and presenters may convey important information, sometimes the most effective way to collaborate with employees is on a personal level.
Manager coaching and mentorship
Coaching by managers is perhaps the most effective professional development method, allowing employees to grow their teams while improving their skill sets and careers.
While online training sessions serve as a one-size-fits-all solution to professional development, manager coaching provides employees with specific, targeted development on a personal level. This means employees feel heard on important issues and feel like they are given direction in their careers both within and outside the organization.
Prioritizing coaching for managers ensures that professional development opportunities for employees are met. However, the biggest challenge with this type of development is ensuring that you have a good manager in place to provide coaching.
To improve manager-employee relationships, foster a culture of collaboration in the workplace, unite your team through incentives and rewards, and listen carefully to feedback.
Stretch assignments are a practical career development tool that can challenge employees, encourage managers to work more closely with their teams, and ensure your business is moving in the right direction.
Employees tend to lose focus when they become stagnant and do the same tasks day in and day out. When employees are given the opportunity to “stretch” their abilities, they can learn and grow while demonstrating to management that they have the initiative and ability to contribute more meaningfully to the organization. .
The disadvantage of stretch assignments is that they are energy-intensive for both the employee and the manager leading the project. To set employees up for success, it's important to make sure stretch assignments match the employee's skill set and give them enough time to plan and complete the project. Providing employees with access to resources and team support can also be helpful.
Adam Uzialko contributed to the writing and reporting of this article. Interviews with sources were conducted for a previous version of this article.