Learn how professional development is the win-win business strategy keeping companies up to date on industry trends while simultaneously keeping their employees on board.
The pace of today’s world is incredibly rapid. Business and industry trends are constantly evolving and changing, especially as the integration of technology increases.
What’s more, the present labor economy and onset of The Great Resignation make finding and retaining top talent more challenging than ever.
But we’re here to tell you about a strategy that can help your business to address all of these challenges at once.
Putting a focus on professional development in your organization is a highly effective way for businesses to both stay current on new developments in their industries and improve employee retention rates.
When employees are given the opportunity to enhance their professional knowledge, they feel a greater sense of pride and satisfaction in their work. At the same time, it puts your company at an advantage by empowering your employees to be forward thinkers regarding what’s on the cutting-edge.
Let’s talk a bit more about professional development: what it means, why it’s important, and how you can implement these strategies for the betterment of your organization as a whole.
What is Professional Development?
Professional development is a way to educate employees with pertinent professional skills through programs like classes, workshops and seminars.
While some professions (such as teaching) require participation in professional development courses to keep their credentials active, it is an employee engagement strategy that helps businesses and their workers across all industries.
Professional Development vs. Training
Both professional development and training are methods of educating your employees, but the two terms have different intentions.
On the one hand, the goal of training is to teach skills that are required in one’s present job or methods of performing their current role more effectively.
Professional development, on the other hand, challenges employees to go beyond the expectations of their role. It encourages them to be proactive about their career goals and gives them the opportunity to learn from experts about new ways of achieving professional success.
While training often plays a role in professional development strategies, the two terms have distinct objectives for employee advancement.
Why Professional Development is Important
Professional development offers tremendous opportunities for both employees and employers.
To begin with, employees can gain skills and knowledge that help them in their current roles.
For example, professional development courses and conferences are great opportunities to learn about how other industry professionals are handling challenges similar to the ones they face regularly.
Moreover, professional development is an effective employee retention strategy.
According to a survey conducted by the University of Massachusetts, “53% of respondents reported that having access to learning or professional development opportunities would entice them to stay longer than planned at any given job.”
At the same time, the Society for Human Resource Management reports that, replacing an employee can cost between 6 to 9 months of their salary to replace them.
This goes to show that, while professional development programs may come with an upfront cost, investing in human capital can undoubtedly prove more cost effective in the long run.
Strategies for Implementing Professional Development Programs
One traditional method for professional development is sponsoring employee attendance at industry conferences.
Not only does this offer workers the opportunity to travel, but it also benefits businesses at large when employees return with new industry insights and knowledge.
Conferences are a great opportunity to compare business struggles and to learn about new strategies for tackling common industry problems.
Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, engagement with learning and development opportunities has become easier than ever.
Many expert speakers are offering seminars and workshops virtually, and even more opportunities are available as on-demand options.
The increased flexibility offered by online learning initiatives means greater opportunities for employee participation anywhere, any time.
Lunch and Learn Programs
Offering your employees lunch-and-learn opportunities is another way to promote professional development in your organization.
Companies will typically implement lunch-and-learns by sharing some kind of educational presentation during employees’ lunch period. Usually, companies will further encourage attendance by providing lunch for them.
These offer an informal setting for education and are, as such, a great forum for employees to participate in professional topics.
Professional development programs don’t necessarily need to be hosted by experts from outside of your organization.
In fact, your tenured employees may be some of the most valuable resources for mentoring and counseling other members of your workforce.
One way that internal resources can be utilized in professional development is through consultation and counseling.
For example, managers who hold regular discussions with their employees are better able to get an idea of how they are feeling about their career trajectory.
As a result, they can offer guidance and advice to employees on an individual level to help them pursue their career objectives.
Opening up a conversation about career goals is also a great way to decrease employee turnover.
When management professionals tune in to the long-term goals of their employees, it’s easier for companies to identify opportunities to encourage career progress.
This results in more employees who want to stay on board.
And it’s beneficial for the mentors as well. The opportunity to share wisdom and expertise with employees can be hugely gratifying for management teams who want to see their teams grow and succeed.
When it comes to developing and strengthening your employees’ career education, professional employer organizations like FrankCrum prove to be a beneficial partner.
Our human resource expertise transcends administrative functions with consultative services for employee management that can aid large and small businesses alike.
Contact us today to learn more about how FrankCrum is your partner in business success!