Three professional development strategies to retain good employees

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Trina Huntley
Trina Huntley
Learning and Development Specialist, Payworks

Trina has almost 30 years of experience in customer-facing roles and industries, and is dedicating her career towards formalizing guidance and support around the types of learning, development and coaching that ultimately grow employee engagement and performance.
Spécialiste en apprentissage et en perfectionnement, Payworks

Trina compte presque 30 années d’expérience dans des postes et des secteurs en contact direct avec les clients et consacre sa carrière à officialiser les conseils et le soutien pour les types d’apprentissage, de perfectionnement et de mentorat qui permettent d’accroître l’engagement et le rendement des employés.

Acquiring new talent is exciting – it’s a major win to land an employee that shows a lot of potential for your team. But once contracts are signed and the hire is official, your work as an employer isn’t done. It’s now time to commit to ongoing investment in your employee’s career by providing continuous growth and learning opportunities, in both technical and soft-skill areas.

According to LinkedIn’s 2018 Workplace Learning Report, 94% of employees said that they would stay at a company longer if it invested in their careers and professional development. If you’re not prioritizing learning opportunities for your employees, you’re probably losing out – not only on creating more valuable employees, but also on keeping your employees satisfied and loyal to your organization. But in today’s fast-paced work environments, how do you prioritize spending time on employee development? Here are three effective strategies for creating employee learning opportunities to help develop – and retain – your top talent:

1. Focus on developing life skills, not just technical skills

While the advantages that come from developing your employees’ technical skills are more easily measured, a recent LinkedIn survey of 2,000 business leaders found that 57% consider interpersonal and "life skills" like leadership, communication, time management and collaboration to be more important. By focusing on developing your employees’ soft skills, you’re showing your employees that you’re interested in their growth and overall success and not just how quickly they can accomplish a technical task.

2. Offer micro-learning opportunities

According to LinkedIn’s 2018 Workplace Learning Report, the number one reason employees feel held back from workplace learning is because they don’t have enough time. Workdays are already jam-packed with meetings, emails and last minute requests, and long seminars can seem like just another distraction from your employees' day to day projects. But if you instead offer learning sessions after work hours or during lunch, employees may see this as disrespectful to their valid need for personal time.

The solution? Start offering learning opportunities in bite-sized time increments that employees can more easily fit into their workday. Not only is micro-learning a more manageable way for busy employees to make time for development, but it also counters our dwindling attention spans. Micro-learning opportunities should take a maximum of 15 minutes during an employee’s day, and as with all professional development, it should come in a variety of formats, like a short video or a brief quiz.

3. Get managers involved in making learning a priority

Once you’ve established a professional development program, the next step is to ensure that your managers are on board. The LinkedIn Workplace Learning Report showed that 56% of employees would take a manager-suggested course, but getting overworked and under-resourced managers involved in employee learning can be a struggle.

You can start socializing the idea of employee learning by asking your managers when the best time would be to incorporate learning into the day; they’ll appreciate a collaborative approach, rather than you dictating exactly how and when development opportunities will happen. Encourage managers to engage in ongoing coaching and performance management sessions to ensure the learning outcomes are being met, and circulate those success stories to help inspire other managers.

Does your company offer professional development for employees? How do you make these opportunities accessible, and how do you encourage participation?

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