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Five Ways to Boost Your Employees’ Long-Term Career Growth

It wasn’t uncommon for companies to cut back on professional development programs in recent years to reduce expenses. However, as more employees are asked to assume broader job responsibilities, the need for training has become all the more critical. Through skills enhancement, staff can keep up with business demands and take on new challenges.

Supporting the professional growth of employees also can boost morale. By offering training programs, firms show they are committed to their employees’ long-term career growth, which can bolster motivation and loyalty. In fact, 45 percent of HR managers interviewed in an OfficeTeam survey said their greatest staffing concern is employee training and development.

Skills enhancement doesn’t have to break the bank. The following are some cost-effective training options to consider:

1. Mentoring:
Pairing more experienced employees with staff who need to learn the ropes or expand their abilities or knowledge can be a win-win. Mentees increase their value to the organization, while mentors build training and leadership skills.

The key to success is making effective matches. Look for mentors who are not just experts in a particular area but who also have the capability, interest and time to train others. Also, define expectations early on. Both parties should clarify how frequently they’ll meet, what type of guidance will be provided and the expected outcome, so there are no misunderstandings.

2. Brown-bag sessions:
If a number of people might benefit from the same training, consider turning to internal staff as instructors. Brown-bag sessions, in which employees learn about a topic while they eat their lunches, can provide a quick, casual way to improve skills.

For instance, a customer service manager could lead a session about providing better service throughout the organization, or someone who returned from a conference can share what he or she learned during the event.

3. Association programs:
Companies that support employee memberships in professional associations can take advantage of all this involvement can offer. Associations often provide low-cost educational opportunities through seminars, conferences and monthly meetings.

Staff also can expand their knowledge and abilities by serving on boards and committees. Make sure employees are encouraged to get the most out of their memberships.

4. E-learning.
Online training through the Internet or company intranet can save firms the expense of sending employees off-site for professional development. Flexibility is another selling point, as staff can access programs at their convenience. Most e-learning system offer a complete package that includes training, tracking and reporting, so managers can evaluate progress and effectiveness.

Managers should bear in mind that online programs may not be suitable for all types of learning, particularly when the subject requires instructor feedback, such as public speaking or negotiation techniques.

5. Cross-training.
One way to help employees feel professionally challenged is to have them shadow someone in a similar role. For example, an administrative assistant in one department of the company can be trained in the same position in another group and vice-versa. They can share techniques and knowledge, which can improve the way they do their own jobs and renew enthusiasm. At the same time, the company is creating a backup in case one employee is out of the office or leaves the firm.

Needless to say, it’s critical to measure the outcome. Ask employees if they found the training useful and solicit input from managers as to whether their team members showed notable improvement afterward.

Not everyone will benefit from the same professional development option. For instance, someone who is less self-motivated might not take the initiative to complete an e-learning course but could thrive under a mentor. This is why companies should offer a variety of programs to meet the needs of its diverse workforce.

Staff also can expand their knowledge and abilities by serving on boards and committees. Make sure employees are encouraged to get the most out of their memberships.


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