Companies talk about investing in their businesses all the time. Smart companies should also think about how they can invest in their employees — and not just by increasing retention rates.
In addition to feeling valued and appreciated at work, research has shown that employees want to work for companies that foster and encourage their professional development. This is especially true for Millennials, who are more likely than older generations to seek out career advancement opportunities over job satisfaction. When looking for new jobs, workers often cite lack of career prospects, along with low pay and benefits, as one of the main reasons why they left their previous position. The vast majority of entry-level, mid-level and even executive-level professionals want to be challenged in their current roles and learn new skills that will help them move up to the next phase of their careers.
Creating a workplace where employees are not only welcome to pursue professional development, but are pushed to grow and improve their leadership abilities, can help businesses boost company loyalty and attract more qualified candidates.
There are several ways companies can invest in their employee’s career growth:
1. Make Career Advancement An Ongoing Conversation In The Workplace
One of the first things companies can do to implement a workplace culture focused on development is to encourage employees to have open conversations about their goals, strengths, weaknesses and skill set. It’s common for hiring managers to ask employees “Where do you see yourself in five years?” when applying to work at a company, but those in charge can do so much more than that.
Instead of only asking employees about their career insights during an annual review, companies should let their staff know that it’s okay to talk about wanting to move up the ladder or gain more responsibility in their current position. Rather than giving staff members the impression that they have to wait several years to obtain management positions, support those who want to learn more leadership skills and find positive ways to give feedback on how someone can improve on certain tasks and abilities pertaining to their job. Companies should always be on the lookout for entry-level employees who have the potential to be the future leaders of their business.
2. Expand Training Programs To Include Career Development
Most companies have training programs for new hires, but few of these programs include continuous education courses and development seminars designed for current employees and mid-level professionals. Some forward-thinking companies, like Apple, have made a serious investment in in-house education programs for its employees. These comprehensive programs help Apple employees — and the company itself — stay relevant in a super-competitive industry that’s also becoming increasingly automated.
While some businesses may not have the funds or resources to build its own career development program, there are many ways companies can add or improve upon its current employee training offerings. One easy way to do this is to bring in motivational speakers or industry experts to talk to employees about how they achieved success in their careers. While team-building days and off-site team-building activities are a popular trend in the business world, there are other types of group outings that may prove more beneficial in terms of professional development. Some managers take their employees to networking events as a way to teach them how to build confidence and initiate conversations with strangers.
3. Help Employees Climb The ‘Career Lattice,’ Not The Corporate Ladder
The concept of the “career lattice” is that career advancement feels more like scaling a boulder or rock wall and less like taking a direct step up to the next higher-paying job or getting a promotion. When looking back on one’s own career growth, it’s easy to see the many twists, turns, surprises and challenges you faced along the way to get where you are in your field.
In order to build the skills and talents necessary for long-lasting career success, employees need to focus on making lateral moves, which include acquiring more knowledge about their particular specialty, learning about new advancements in their field and working on becoming better, faster and more efficient at work. The “career lattice” approach encourages employees to hone their skills and also gain a broader understanding of how companies thrive and function. Companies can place more emphasis on ascending the “career lattice” over the corporate ladder by rewarding employees with professional advancement opportunities instead of — or in addition to — bonuses or salary increases.
4. Encourage Employees To Pursue Higher Education Courses or Programs
According to a recent study released by Destiny Solutions, only 9 percent of companies have an established partnership with a college or university to provide training and development for their employees. While over 70 percent of employers feel their team members need to engage in continuous learning to keep up with their current job, few companies provide the necessary funds or resources for employees who have a strong desire to advance their education or pursue professional development courses.
Continuing education courses are becoming increasingly popular for mid-level professionals. Colleges and universities are starting to offer more short-term courses that target adult learners looking to gain more skills and business acumen in order to progress in their careers. These classes and seminars are often designed with the working professional in mind and target specific industries, including hospitality, technology and finance.
Companies can push employees to enroll in these short-course higher education programs by offering incentives for those who do, and by stressing the importance of lifelong learning in the workplace.
5. Build A Team Of Leaders Within Your Own Company
In the near future, employees won’t just want the company they work for to offer advancement opportunities, they’ll expect it. According to research conducted by Deloitte University Press, more than two-thirds of Millennials feel that it’s management’s responsibility to provide them with accelerated growth opportunities.
Study after study has shown that Millennials place a strong emphasis on engagement and want to feel valued at their jobs. Younger generations want to know that the company they work for has a keen interest in investing in both the growth of the business and their employees. One of the best ways to do this is by building a team of leaders within your organization, rather than hiring managers and executive-level employees from outside the company every time there’s an open position.
If companies let entry-level employees know from day one that they’re looking for people to become the future leaders of the organization, many of these team members will rise to the challenge and work harder to develop their leadership skills.
Career Development Opportunities Offered At Vail Centre
Vail Centre provides entry-level employees, mid-career professionals, and top-level executives the opportunity to pursue professional development by offering accredited certificate programs taught by Ivy League professors and experts in the hospitality industry. Distinguished professors from Yale University, Duke University, and Cornell University are flown into the Vail Centre campus to teach three-day or week-long seminar courses focused on nonprofit management, leadership and entrepreneurship.
Upcoming courses offered at Vail Centre include the Duke University Nonprofit Management Certificate Program, which will give attendees the skills and tools one needs to become a leader in today’s nonprofit world. The Duke University Nonprofit Management course will run June 25-30 and attendees can register here, or by contacting Todd Wallis at [email protected].