Every employer knows the importance of ensuring new staff members are properly trained. New hires need not only knowledge of essential skills to be effective in their positions, but also must learn the ins and outs of company policy and various administrative minutiae.
But while many companies may be tempted to restrict training to a beginning-of-tenure occurrence, this is actually doing a disservice to both employees and management. In recent years, employee training has started giving way to career development, both in execution but also in guiding philosophy. Companies that have taken a more longitudinal approach to development have benefited from happier, more productive employees.
What are the benefits of ongoing employee development?
Some companies may feel that spending valuable time and company resources on cultivating individual employee development may be an unnecessary expense. Others may even view it as paying toward their own turnover – the thought being that promoting professional development in the workforce is encouraging their current staff to leave their positions in search of new ones. But industry wisdom holds that this is actually not the case.
As HR information blog The EvoLLLution pointed out, employees aren’t just your company’s most important asset, they’re also an investment. Just as the challenges your business faces aren’t stagnant and static, your employees should also be equally dynamic. A robust approach to professional development is a key way to imbue your staff not just with essential job knowledge, but with the problem-solving skills and adaptability to face these challenges. Additionally, companies that offer more fleshed-out development programs see employees that are more engaged and happier with their companies, which can lead to lower turnover and higher productivity.
In fact, Peoria magazines noted that companies that have previously offered substantive development programs only to cut back in such areas – largely as a result of economic turmoil in the 2008 recession – actually saw greater turnover and lower engagement than those organizations that never offered such programs in the first place.
How you can encourage professional development
With the benefits of employee development programs demonstrated, the question facing employers is how such efforts can be implemented into their current training paradigms. The good news is that your company most likely already has the training infrastructure needed to put such a program into practice. In fact, your current learning management system or online training platform most likely is the best place to focus your efforts on shifting from training to development.
Elearning software and the cloud represent perhaps the largest asset to employers trying to take a more active role in development, as it can help overcome some of the largest challenges, both perceived and actual. As Forbes pointed out, insufficient time is a commonly cited impediment to evolving an employee development program. Others believe that the onus to plan career paths and pursue required training should fall to the employee rather than the employer. The good news is that if you create online courses aimed at educating staff members as to their career options within your company, as well as offering basic training and knowledge needed to pursue such options, you can overcome both objections.
The accessibility of an online training platform means that employees can access learning and development materials at any time, from anywhere with an Internet connection. Additionally, while employers can provide the necessary information in the form of Web-based learning modules, the choice is up to each individual worker as to when and if to further explore career options.