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Employee Professional Development Ideas

As team members, your employees can work both individually and together to reach a common goal. The personal growth of each employee contributes to the success of the entire business.

According to Adrian Ridner, CEO and co-founder of Study.com, the acknowledgment of an employee’s talents and successes in fulfilling their job responsibilities builds their confidence, which increases employee retention and morale.

An Akumina study showed that millennials tend to favor moving from one job to another. Empowering employees, especially younger workers susceptible to job hopping, to succeed in their current roles and ultimately move up could reduce this turnover.

There are numerous ways for employees to pursue professional development. Follow these steps to find the program – or combination of programs – that works best for your team.

  1. Consult employees about their developmental needs.
    Addressing skill gaps among employees is essential for business owners and managers. You and your team managers or HR representatives should meet with your employees regularly to discuss each one’s job performance and areas where professional development would benefit them and the company. The conversation should include suggestions for improvement, showing the employee the company cares about them and their future.

Additionally, bouncing professional development ideas around the office empowers employees to play an important role in the program while encouraging personal and professional growth.

“Creating a culture of learning in the workplace is a shared responsibility,” Ridner said. He added that employees should feel free to suggest academic or professional development programs.

  1. Form partnerships with other companies and industry speakers.
    Businesses should consider forming partnerships or provide access to workplace education, like online lessons and in-house training sessions, Ridner said. You could also turn to online industry offerings or connect with experts in your field.
  2. Use technology to your advantage.
    It’s crucial for employees to keep pace with societal and technological developments. Since rapid technology advancements impact most industries, professionals armed with diverse skills and abilities offer more flexibility and value to employers than those whose learning has stagnated.

“With the advent of technology and online learning, it’s easier and more inexpensive than ever to foster a culture of learning in the workplace,” Ridner said.

  1. Create an internal mentorship program.
    According to Ridner, employers should arrange brainstorming groups or mentorship programs to help staffers connect with one another. For example, Study.com organizes 24-hour “Rockethons,” during which the company forms small teams to discuss ideas, create prototypes, improve tools and more. [Read related article: How to Find a Mentor]
  2. Start an ongoing lunch-and-learn program.
    Get an expert speaker or knowledgeable team member to teach your employees in an informal lunch setting. The expert can present to the team, and then employees can engage in a creative discussion with the expert, gaining front-row knowledge on a specific topic. This is a great monthly event that can help educate employees without taking up too much of their time. Many companies pay for lunch for the employees to eat while listening to the speakers, which gives staff an incentive to come and an even more positive association with the sessions.
  3. Encourage active participation.
    While some staffers welcome professional development opportunities, others might be reluctant. As an employer, you should encourage educational pursuits in and out of the workplace. You could also organize initiatives to stimulate new ideas.

Key takeaway: Consult your employees on which professional development programs sound most helpful to them. Some ideas are lunch-and-learns, industry expert speakers, online courses, and/or internal mentorships.

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