An organization’s greatest asset is its people. Repeat… An organization’s greatest asset is its people! This simple sentence may be clichéd but its veracity should not be underestimated. The Best Workplaces™ for Professional Development understand this dynamic and they are keenly aware of how important it is to invest in their employees’ growth. As such, they continually invest in their people with dedicated employee training and development programs that allow them to stay on top of their business as it evolves.
We know change is inevitable and the rate of change does not seem to be slowing down. With the emergence of trends like remote work, digital technology and artificial intelligence, organizations need to be agile and able to advance in order to remain competitive. Part of this means ensuring employee training keeps pace. Employee development at all levels of the organization is essential for any business to stay, and remain, competitive and is a key driver of growth and business success.
The link between professional development and a strong and vibrant culture is equally clear and it impacts a number of intersecting areas that provide a competitive advantage. We’ll take a look at four of these key areas and highlight the positive impact an investment in professional development has had on employee experience at the Best Workplaces on our list.
Employee Retention and Satisfaction
Satisfied employees stay; dissatisfied ones leave. And an effective way to retain your talent is to provide career development opportunities. It’s important for people to feel challenged in their current role but they also want options. Today people often view lateral moves just as appealing as traditional upward progression. Being part of an organization that supports and encourages a wide range of career development opportunities keeps their career options open and encourages them to look within for their next career move versus looking externally.
People are also highly motivated to use their skills and talents in ways that are personally meaningful as well as professionally satisfying. When employees are given these opportunities at work they feel valued which is another strong driver of retention and satisfaction.
- Stay connected with your people and understand what training they are most interested in.
- Work closely with them to identify areas where they need improvement or skills they want to develop.
- Establish defined career paths within your organization to help people see the variety of ways they can grow within the organization.
Productivity and Talent
When hiring new employees it’s imperative they have all the necessary skills required to do the job. Likewise, you need your current people’s skills to be sharp and up to date. Investing in professional development on a regular basis is the best way to ensure your talent is, and remains, capable of delivering the outcomes you need. It also helps ward off stagnation. When people get bored their productivity wanes, as does their interest in the organization, its goals and even their team. Ongoing training is the perfect recipe to keep knowledge levels high, and employees who have all the tools, skills, and training they need will be more productive than ones who don’t.
Part of this ongoing skill development should include leadership training. This is a vital skill to develop for employees at all levels. For those interested in upward mobility, leadership is a natural area of skill progression. Leadership skills training also encourages autonomous, self directed work, which is a benefit whether a person wants to manage others or not. Ultimately, having a pipeline of promotable talent helps ensure current productivity is high and helps you prepare for future needs.
By establishing a culture of continuous learning and development you also create an environment where people are motivated to learn from each other. And this learning momentum creates exponential growth within teams.
- When people participate in training programs ask them to share what they learned with their team.
- Encourage the team to ask questions and explore how the new skills can/do apply to day-to-day objectives.
- As part of this, think about skill gaps and determine who else would benefit from similar training and what other specific training may be needed.
Innovation and Creativity
Investing in your people helps keep them happy and satisfied and it also signals your commitment to learning and growing as part of an innovative culture – one that is continually looking forward and not afraid to try new things. This is as important for employee growth as it is organizational growth. Training helps keep people’s minds stimulated, it encourages them to think critically about what they are doing and to ask themselves how they can improve, and it introduces them to new methods and technologies they might not otherwise know existed. All of these contribute to innovative and creative thinking and spur new idea generation.
You can also use innovative learning approaches to help people become more open to change. Think about training with new technology like virtual and augmented reality. Or use simulations to help acquire new skills in a risk-free setting. These types of training programs make learning safe and allow people to experiment with risk taking that they can then start to apply to their real work. Training programs introduce people to new concepts and solutions; they see the upside first-hand and this encourages creativity and agility and helps them develop innovative thinking skills that can be applied day to day.
As part of this, be sure your internal culture supports innovation and recognizes that not all new ideas will be successful on the first iteration.
- Include training on innovation in your overall development program.
- Make innovation safe and easy by encouraging new idea submissions and asking for regular feedback from your people.
- Recognize innovative and creative thinking and incorporate as part of your appreciation efforts.
Engagement and Empowerment
We know that people are inspired by a compelling vision and want to work with organizations that share their passion and purpose. Training and development keeps people motivated and inspired to keep looking forward and achieving success together. When a company is willing to invest in them, people become more attached and engaged to the vision and purpose, which creates a win-win.
By giving people new skills and supporting them to learn and grow you are empowering them to take control of their accomplishments and their careers. They feel trusted and worthy of your continued investment. And this builds a powerful response to work hard themselves and inspire others around them to do the same. When you have a team of well-skilled people excited about learning and growing there is no limit to what that team can accomplish.
The pride generated through this positive cycle of growth and development underpins organizational success. By setting the example at the top and encouraging a lifelong commitment to learning you create a solid foundation for your people to flourish - they will work hard for you and they will stay with you! The best workplaces are harnessing this energy and using it to help their employees thrive and make their company cultures even better.
Great Place to Work gives you the tools and data you need to understand your organization's culture - and guides you on the best actions to take to preserve what's working and improve what isn't.
About Great Place to Work®
Great Place to Work® makes it easy to survey your employees, uncover actionable insights and get recognized for your great company culture. Clients apply our insights, advice, and tools to fuel the vision, decisions and actions that drive business performance.
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