Employees shouldn’t be expected to develop and grow a business unless the business works to develop and grow the employees. The employer-employee relationship should be symbiotic. Employees give their time, talent, and resources to help the business flourish and gain value. The business, then, provides challenges, meaning, structure, and money to help its employees strengthen their skills and gain value.
While paying employees is only part of the puzzle, many companies and employees focus solely on the financial component. Professional development is an invaluable benefit that companies should also provide for their employees. Personal growth is a meaningful thing in life and helps us set and attain realistic career goals.
Why Development is Important for Companies
Caring about employee training and development creates an intellectual growth-mindset within a company. It sets a positive company culture, communicates to employees that you care about them, and adds value to your company by increasing the talent of your employees. Even if you’re a smaller business, focusing on training can pay big dividends.
Valuing employee training and development creates an atmosphere of growth. One of the biggest drains on energy in work environments is feeling stuck. There are only so many new titles and promotions to toss around, so you can’t solve this problem by simply promoting employees every year. A salary boost is nice, but it won’t boost morale that much if people are doing the same tasks year after year.
Even if someone’s job is already complex and challenging, encouraging them to view their role as a growth-oriented one will give them a better work experience. Learning new things actually makes us happier. It expands our worldview, makes us more creative, and helps us develop in unexpected ways. Create a happy work culture by valuing training and development.
Increasing the Talent and Value
Having training and development increases the talent and value of your employees. Turnover can be extremely expensive, and while employees leave for many reasons, having to fire an incompetent employee for not maintaining high skill levels is frustrating. The thing is, this lack of skill is not always the employee’s fault. When employees aren’t encouraged to grow and to learn new things, they can reach places in life where they fail to gain the new skills that they’ll need for the next chapter of their lives and of your business.
Schooling is a major component of our culture; we begin learning new concepts at young ages, and truthfully should never cease to learn. The initial transition from schooling to the workforce can be challenging. Making your company reflect the best of a liberal arts experience can drive the best young talent to join your company.
Developing as an Individual
If your employer doesn’t care about employee training and development, you might be in the wrong job and might need to look for a new one (which is not as scary as it sounds!).
The development of employees is not only the responsibility of the company, though training and development should be included in the benefits you pursue as an employee. As an employee or future employee of a company, you are also responsible for your own development. It isn’t just the job of the company to help you grow. Great employees are looking for opportunities to improve inside and outside of work.
Approach Work Differently
Develop a growth mindset. If you’re a maverick employee who wants to take their development into their own hands, but don’t want to sign up for expensive night school classes, you’ve got some moves to make. One of the best ways that you can learn and train as an employee is to approach your work differently. Instead of thinking “how can I get through the day” or “how can I make it to the weekend,” think about what you can learn. Approach work as an opportunity to learn new skills while also improving your habits in your personal life.
Ask for Help
Bosses, HR departments, and boards have all been taught that they should keep their criticism to a minimum. If you are in one of these roles, give someone three things they do well and one thing that they need improvement on. If you are an employee, accept constructive criticism graciously and work to make corrections. We all need more feedback in life than we get, and we all can utilize techniques to handle constructive criticism.
Development Beyond Company Trainings
Start off on the right foot by hiring the right people. If you don’t have an internal staffing department, a staffing agency can help deliver a ton of great candidates. Once you create a strong roster, you need to keep training them to ensure that they continue to be the right people for the job. Just remember that if they were the right people when you hired them and they’re no longer the right people now, it might be because your company didn’t take training seriously.
There are a lot of bad approaches to training employees. Great companies that develop employees do it from a place of caring. If you’re trying to maximize profits or simply fill time or corporate demands, it won’t be effective. Only do training that actually matters. Training and development that matters starts with a coherent and clear end goal that reflects the company’s needs.
Reverse-Engineer the Training
There are some old cliches about what corporate training looks like. Either it looks like a bunch of people falling asleep in a conference room while someone drones on over a boring powerpoint presentation, or it looks like ridiculous trust fall exercises out in the forest. Maybe one of these worked for you or your company. Maybe not.
The question isn’t “what training activity do we want to do,” it’s “what is our end goal.” Instead of starting by figuring out what you want to train the employees in, think about what you want people to gain by the end of the training. If you’re an employee, approach training with an open mind. If you’re the boss, remember that your employees won’t learn from things you don’t learn from, and that they won’t enjoy things that you wouldn’t enjoy.
Learning is ultimately a change of behavior resulting from some experience that is had. A powerpoint might not be the most effective experience for changing behavior.
Give Hands-on Training
Whenever possible, it’s best to conduct hands-on training. The most effective way for an employee to learn is by giving them a new task or responsibility, and sure to also give them the tools and help that they’ll need in order to succeed in that role.
Don’t just think of employees as cogs in the machine that you need to teach new tricks so that the machine can go a little faster. If employees realize that you don’t care about their personal development and that you only care about maximizing profits, then they won’t want to participate. As an employee, you know when a company really cares about your life and trajectory, and when they only care about you relative to the profit that you bring the company.
Companies that care about employees help them develop and become better people. They care about the time that employees have and the energy that they have left over. They train people on valuable life skills–finances, relationships, healthy eating, working out, sleep, meditation–and not just so that the employees will become more productive. They train because they care about employees. Setting aside time each week or each month to highlight one of these areas can be a huge asset to a company.
Here are some things that your lifestyle development plans might focus on:
- Cultivating good sleep habits
- Good ways to exercise and stay in shape
- Food science and ways to stay healthy
- Skills for the relationships in your life
- Meditation and mindfulness practices
Employee training and development can be difficult to navigate, but is worthwhile for the health of your employees, your company, and yourself. So long as your approaches come from a place of genuine care, you will find that your workplace environment will flourish.