Employee development is not just the latest HR buzzword phrase. There has long been a need for continuous career-long training and development of all employees at all levels of an organization. However, beyond training employees for the job they were hired to perform, why should a company care about an employee’s career development?
Well, let us take a look at some compelling reasons why companies should care:
• The Skills Gap – According to a SHRM study, 75% of HR professionals say there is a shortage of skills in candidates for job openings. And according to a study by CareerBuilder, 60% of US employers have job openings that stay vacant for 12 weeks or longer. So if you are not training your current employees, you may not be able to find the skills you need outside your company.
• Productivity - Employees that have training and educational opportunities are more productive. This result is closely related to employee engagement, which we focused on in last month’s blog posts. The more an employee feels that their company cares about them, the more engaged they will be in their work and in their company.
• Retention – Not only does employee development and training make employees more productive, but research has shown that it actually reduces employee turnover and absenteeism. The fear that you will train an employee and they will leave has been proven to not be the case. You actually keep more of your people and their ever increasing skill sets!
So, once a company realizes the value of employee development programs, how does it get started? First of all, a successful development program should achieve three main objectives:
1. The program should meet the employee’s individual interests and aspirations. Unless the training and development are desired by the employee, it will be a hard sell to get the employee onboard. From the start, manager’s need to regularly communicate with their employees and discuss what their future goals are and provide training and development activities that will support them.
2. The program should address the company’s long-term needs and growth goals. As technology, equipment and processes evolve, so too do the skills of your employees. Make sure that your development programs are addressing the company’s strategic goals and not further widening the skills gap.
3. The program should address leadership training. A commonly forgotten aspect of employee development is the training of management skills. Few workers go into a management position inherently knowing how to manage others. These are skills that can be taught, but this needs to be a focus. Otherwise, poor managers will be unable to successfully implement your employee development program objectives, as they will be unprepared to do so.
Finally, once you have thought about and determined the objectives of your development program, what are some areas that need to be considered in the implementation of the program?
• Executive Support – First and foremost you have to have full understanding and agreement from top management. If you do not have enthusiastic support from the top it will be hard to get funding for programs, as well as time and encouragement from managers for their reports to participate in training and ultimately the buy-in from the employees themselves that this will help their career growth.
• Management Participation – As mentioned above, manager’s need to regularly communicate with their reports to best help and support them in their career growth. They may need to adjust team work loads to accommodate time for training and shadowing. Effective employee development cannot happen without the participation and support of one’s manager.
• Make Part of Performance Reviews – Both short-term and long-term development goals should be an integral part of every review. Manager’s need to look not just at what has been accomplished by employees in the past, but also how the employee is mastering new skills and behaviors to continuously improve for the future.
• Know the Outcome – Before embarking on particular development initiatives make sure you are clear on what you are expecting will be accomplished and what particular skills will be enhanced and how those new skills can benefit the employee and the company alike.
Employee development is truly an investment. It will require not only funding for classes, etc., but time for the employee to learn and time by managers and top executives to structure programs, develop their own managerial skills, etc. However, the payoff is worth the sacrifice. Companies that invest now in their employees will reap rewards in employee retention, the ability to master new equipment and technologies and a workforce that is loyal, inventive and ready to take on any challenge. Companies can’t afford not to make this investment!
By Ann Condon, Marketing Manager
Ann Condon has been with Dion for 16 years, working in Dion’s Marketing and Business Development Department. Although this was her first position with a jewelry manufacturer, she has learned a lot over the years. Ann enjoys getting involved in “All Things Dion” from volunteering at the Dion Golf Tournament to being a part of the Dion Diamonds Relay for Life Team. She has quite a number of Dion event t-shirts to show for it!
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