Today’s employees develop loyalty toward their employers differently than their Baby Boomer parents. Your employees want to be challenged; they want growth. They long for mentorship and a viable career path, and the employers that keep the best employees are intentional about building a successful career development program.
The great news about having a career development program at your company is two-fold. First, you get to make your existing employees better employees. These development programs help your employees build stronger technical skills, as well as learn new hard and soft skills. Second, you will have more good employees sticking around for the long haul since they know that their employer is as serious about their career as they are.
Creating an Employee Career Development plan is a solid way to provide growth opportunities for your employees, driving retention and internal talent. So now we know the importance of a development plan, how do we go about creating successful professional development?
Step 1: Talk to Your Employees
Do you know what your employees want and need? Most employers think that they do, but until you sit down one-on-one with your employees, you are likely disconnected from what they think and feel. So before embarking on a career development program, set yourself up for success by listening to your employees and hearing from each employee what are their career goals and what do they feel is the skill set they need in order to get better at their job.
Additionally, find out from your employees where they want to be in 5-10 years. Do they have short-term goals? Do they want to lead? Do they want to help implement better processes, software, or policies? What would make them want to stay with the company besides another raise? Getting answers to these questions will help you begin on a solid foundation.
Lastly, after hearing from your employees, let them know that you are looking at professional development and working on an action plan for them and where you hope the company will be in 5-10 years. Include the employee’s presence in that future plan. Give them some simple, measurable development goals so that they know how to grow within the company. Then simply ask them how you can best help them achieve your and their professional goals together.
Step 2: Examine Career Development Resources Available
Some HR resources include career development programs. Examine their product offerings and measure them against the information that you gathered from your employees. This could include anything from local seminars to college career certifications and more.
Research your industry and see what is out there. There is a surprising amount of free or low-cost training available online.
For example, Global Payroll departments can access on-demand webinars from the Global Payroll Management Institue providing educational training covering a range of specific topics to help meet the demands of every global payroll professional. We here at Payslip provide free payroll country guides that cover valuable information per country from a payroll point of view to help companies who are scaling internationally gain an understanding of payroll per country.
Other examples are Marketing departments can help their team members get a wide variety of marketing certifications for free on the HubSpot Academy and Google Academy.
Some of the most valuable programs cost money, but that is because the training is likely to make your employees vastly more effective in their work. For example, companies that lean on their project managers often like to get their employees Six Sigma Certified.
Other companies have some of their more experienced managers create their own training programs. This allows leaders to impart their knowledge and personalize training to meet specific employee needs.
At the end of the day, don’t restrict yourself to just external or internal career development resources. Work alongside your employees to build an employee development plan that will be effective and affordable.
Step 3: Connect Career Path Training with Company Return on Investment.
What do you expect career path training to do for your bottom line? In other words, after an employee completes a milestone in their training, how will that employee be better equipped to increase revenues, lower costs, or both?
If you fail to consider ROI when it comes to building a career development program, you may find yourself spending money with little or no expectations. Employees will not know how to put their new skills to use, and you will only see your costs go up without any measurable benefit to the business. This will frustrate both the employee and you. And at the end of the day, not connecting the career path training to company ROI only means that you trained an employee that is better equipped for a job elsewhere.
Step 4: Build a Formal Mentorship Program.
All career development training should be collaborative between you and the employees. It is unlikely that you will be able to meet with every employee on a regular basis. For companies that want to take their employee development programs seriously, they create formal mentorship programs for those that are developing and growing in their position.
Mentors should be more experienced and willing to guide a less experienced employee. These mentorships act like a career coach and should feel informal (even though they are formal company initiatives). These relationships allow employees to seek guidance and ask questions. It also allows mentors to help your promising employees know the company’s expectations of them.
Step 5: Regularly Reassess the Value of Your Career Development Programs.
Not all career development resources are going to work as well as others. As such, regularly take a close look at how effective each resource is for your employees. Have your mentors report to you if an employee has a valid concern about the value of their training. Especially early on, be willing to course-correct as often as it takes to get dialed in on a great program.
Many industries change drastically year-after-year. Therefore, make sure that each of your career development program resources are relevant and on the cutting edge of your industry. Even after building a strong program, revisit these resources on a regular basis to see if any resources that were at one time great are now falling behind. Offer additional training if needed based on an industry or policy change that may be relevant for your employees.
You will lose your best employees if you do not give them the opportunity to be challenged and become more valuable to your organization. Use your career development programs to collaborate with your employees, and employ mentors to help you keep communication strong between team members and management.
As you learn from all your managers and employees about what they want or need, commit to building a roadmap where there is something for everyone. Those employees that have little need for training should themselves become the trainers. Make sure that employees understand the training goals and know how they are expected to help the company gain more revenue or lower costs after they’ve received their training. And don’t forget to carefully examine the effectiveness of every resource you’ve employed.
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