According to LinkedIn’s 2018 Workforce Learning Report, 93% of employees would stay at a company longer if it invested in their careers. Employee Development is one of the critical factors in employee retention, but today’s modern workforce requires a modern approach.
Employees don’t want to feel like a cog in the wheel. They want to feel valued while contributing to something meaningful. They want advancement, but also want boundaries because they have a life outside of your four walls. Combining best-practices with your organization’s mission and values and your employee’s skills and needs is a modern approach that not only improves the bottom line, but also creates a healthy and positive work environment.
Set the Foundation
Before you can create a modern approach, you must have the basics in place. If you’ve been in HR for some time, you’re likely familiar with some of the best practices in employee development. Here are a few:
- Assess Goals: Best practices suggest you should determine and communicate your goals. But what if you’ve already done that? Is that goal still in the forefront of everyone’s mind? Is everyone on the same page, and marching to the same purpose? Yes, you should determine your goal. But, more importantly, you should regularly assess whether or not the goals are still relevant to both the business and employee.
- Assess Employee Skills: Successful organizations are fluid with technological, economic, and social changes. The skills you need today won’t be the same ones you’ll need tomorrow. Do you know what you’ll need five, ten, or twenty years out? Assessing current employee skills, abilities, knowledge, and interests provides a baseline to determine gaps that can be closed with the right plans and actions.
- Career Goals: Do you educate and assist your employees with the options available to them? Do you have programs in place to help them with education and experience necessary to meet their short and long-term goals? Career goals are both short-term and long-term. Short-term goals typically take six months to three years to accomplish. Long-term goals can take three to five years to achieve. Having the ability to achieve both short and long-term career goals encourages employees to keep advancing in your organization rather than looking elsewhere.
- Career Path Planning: Once goals are determined, career path planning is next. Do you communicate how employees can advance? Is there a process in place that supports what you communicate? Businesses that don’t support employee growth are met with significant retention and engagement issues. Having clear career paths coupled with frequent career planning meetings motivates employees to obtain the next level while providing reasons to stay in the organization.
- Non-linear Approach: Career progression isn’t linear anymore. Movements can be vertical, diagonal, and lateral, creating innumerable career roles for each employee. Are you open to having employees move to different departments to gain additional skills and expertise? Will you let employees take best-practices from one job role and try it in another? Employees who develop cross-functional competencies have a better picture of the overall organization and are perfect for advancement into management positions.
Develop a Modern Approach to Employee Development
With constant changes and non-linear paths, employees require a modern approach to their development. Herding groups of employees into mandatory training during their lunch hour isn’t always effective. While it’s better than no training, it causes employees to feel like sheep who work for organizations that don’t respect their time. Instead, consider one or more of the following advancements in learning.
- Micro-learning: A 2012 study found that shorter training sessions (eight minutes) were better than longer sessions (over an hour). Micro-learning allows for more latent, between-session, and post-training learning to emerge. As a first step, take a longer training that you have and break it up into shorter sessions. Then allow employees to practice what they’ve learned before you provide the next training.
- Blended Training: Match different learning options to different learning styles. Today’s multi-generational workforce requires multiple learning options. Some employees prefer to read what they need to know while others require a more hands-on approach. Often this is resolved by creating blended training ensuring that the training has video, pictures, sound, test questions, and practice examples.
- Provide Flexible Learning Options: Some employees prefer on-demand access to online training, while others need someone to sit next to them and demonstrate the process step by step. As a first step, offer on-demand training as an alternative to face-to-face classroom instruction and reduce the number of classes you hold. For employees who need one-on-one education, pair them up with a peer after the training. Then follow up with managers to see if employees are using their new skills in their role.
By better understanding the emerging trends in employee development, organizations will be in a better position to choose the solutions that drive results, maximize employee engagement, and increase productivity and innovation. Use best practices like goal setting, assessment, and career path planning. Then improve your educational programs with micro-learning, different modalities, and flexibility to create a modern approach to employee development.