How to improve employee development at your company?

There are plenty of ways which can lead to the success of your company. You can pull levers on product development, QA sales, marketing, customer relation, etc. But employee development is something that is not correctly prioritized by many organizations.

Employee Development refers to a process where organizations help employees improve by upgrading his/her knowledge that helps him/her also grow both professionally as well as personally. Employees need to move with time and keep abreast of all the latest developments in their respective fields. Employees have a unique insight into the requirements of their own role — and when they direct their own development, with support from line managers, those needs are more likely to be addressed.

But many times, organizations lag behind on employee improvement. Leaders are constrained by time and are often biased towards short to medium-term growth. This leads to an unhappy workforce which in turn leads to an even less productive work environment. That’s why there is an increasing number of organizations that are encouraging employee development.

In their report “State of the American Workplace” GALLUP states that between 55 and 80 percent of employees believe it’s normal to see work as something to be endured, not enjoyed, but on the other hand Forbes says that happy employees are up to 20 percent more productive than unhappy employees.

Imagine that one of your employees plays guitar in his free time or writes poetry. Now imagine how productive he will be at the workplace. While it’s hard for anyone to draw a connection between the two, many studies have shown that when employees are happy it leads to a better and productive workday. When your employees come to work feeling more rested and more accomplished they are inclined towards their work. They feel that their employer truly cares about them. When employees know you care about their growth, they respond. It builds trust, commitment, and a host of other benefits that impact the bottom line.

There are some big benefits your organization stands to gain by supporting employee personal development. But how to avail those benefits? Here listed are a few ways through which you can help your employees in personal development.

1.) Personal Development Funds

Offering personal development funds allows employees to spend an allotted amount of money on any type of activity they choose. This could include anything from a music class to a pottery class or even a gym membership. When employees get a feeling that their personal choices are being valued by the organization, they are more likely to stay committed to one organization for a longer period of time, reducing the company cost for hiring new employees. The feeling of being valued by your organization creates a sense of belongingness for the employee which can yield greater benefits for the organization.

2.) Promote Employees Who Upgrade Their Knowledge

An individual must see some benefit of self-improvement in his respective organization. Remember, if an individual is investing his/her time in learning new things, he/she must get its benefit. Employees who have the urge to improve themselves must be given their due credit. Promote them accordingly and do give them special treatments. Make them feel special and also realize that it is only their dedication to constantly upgrade their knowledge which has eventually helped them to do well and carve a niche of their own. Review your employees on a regular basis. You need to know where all your employees are lacking and also guide them accordingly to constantly upgrade their knowledge.

3.) Allow Flexible Timings

If an employee is taking on-campus courses or pursuing an interest that falls inside normal work hours, consider offering flex time. Flexible timing requires employees to work a set number of hours but during days and times that function with their pursuits outside of work. Accountability is needed here —give trust and hold your employees “able.” When an employee understands that his/her organization respects the work s/he does and allows him/her to have some time for their personal development, they feel rewarded and want to return that respect towards the organization. 

4.) Cross-Departmental Training

Think of your business as an ecosystem. In nature, all of the different species of plants and animals are interdependent. They ultimately create a harmonious balance in the system by constantly making corrections. In business ecosystems, equilibrium does not occur naturally. Management must guide each of their teams to improve the overall health of the company. You can encourage cross-departmental training and have a developer review a customer email or sit in on a call with support. Members of your CS team can join a scrum meeting or stand-up with the development team. No one is likely to make a career shift, but they can each see the impact of their efforts more clearly. What they learn can also inform the fine details of dev’s work on the product, or CS’s conversations with customers.

5.) Talk To Your Employees

Have a conversation with employees individually. Ask them how they want to develop and what would help them feel more supported and satisfied. There’s no better way to provide personal development opportunities that will make a real impact on your organization than by asking employees directly what would make them happier workers. It’s incredibly important to let your employees know that you not only support their personal growth, but you follow through by offering real opportunities.

Employees who feel inspired and passionate about their work are more likely to self-develop. Employee engagement programs can, therefore, foster self-development, while also offering wider value.

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