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How to Encourage Employees to Pursue Professional Development

Professional development shouldn’t stop just because someone lands a good job at your company. Here’s how to encourage it in the workplace.
Employees who pursue professional development in their careers tend to have higher productivity and job satisfaction.
Employers should create opportunities for formal and informal professional development.
Some professional development programs include “lunch and learns,” internal mentorships, company or industry expert speakers, and online programs.
This article is for small business owners, HR managers, and team leaders who want professional development ideas to help employees learn and grow.
As the worldwide business landscape evolves, responding to the whims of technology and increased competition, so does the importance of professional development programs. Designed to arm employees with new resources to succeed in their positions, even preparing them to accept additional duties within the company, these programs are gaining in popularity, complexity and necessity.

According to Steve Hawter, vice president of learning and development at The Learning Experience, professional development “controls an employee’s readiness for contributing to a company in new ways, whether the company adopts a new strategy, expands or needs change.”

To keep up with the rapid pace of change in the business world, employees must be encouraged and supported to seek refresher courses and accept new challenges.

“It is less important to learn a topic or skill than to be able to adapt to new and evolving workplace challenges,” Nanette Miner, Ed.D., owner of The Training Doctor, told Business News Daily. “It is important not to remain a dinosaur in your industry to keep your job and remain valuable.”

Training vs. professional development
There are definite differences between training and professional development, said Hawter. “Training fills in a gap, but development looks to the future and growth of the company and employee.”

Professional development begins on day one of a new job, in Miner’s opinion. “For company longevity, there should be a clear career path,” she said.

Conversely, training is based on the needs of the organization at the time. While employees can co-train on a mutually agreed topic, professional development budgets have shrunk in the past few years.

“Companies are not investing in their talent,” Miner said. “My overarching belief is that more money has to be invested in self-management, ethics, communication (written and verbal) and leadership skills.”

Key takeaway: Training fills a gap, whereas professional development focuses on employee and company growth.

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