Every company has it’s own set of priorities to help take it to the next level, and knowing which initiatives will make the greatest impact can be tough. But what makes a business prosperous and truly differentiates one organization from the rest is not the product it sells or the service it offers, it’s the people within it.
Taking care of your employees doesn’t simply mean offering fun happy hours or paying for lunch once a week. Each person, no matter their level or where they choose to work, wants to feel genuinely cared for. An impactful way to do this is through a commitment to support their professional advancement and personal growth.
Employee development is a long-term initiative, but it also leads to short-term benefits like increased loyalty and improved performance and engagement. Here are five ways you can begin improving employee development at your company.
1. Offer professional training from the get-go
Setting your employees up for success in their role starts with giving them all the tools and resources they need to do their job well. This includes professional training. You can practice this from an employee’s first day and beyond by creating a knowledge base of critical information and best practices for new hires as you grow your team. For remote employees, they may not get the same opportunities to ask one-off questions at your desk, so creating a thorough training plan is especially important for getting them ramped up.
2. Help your managers become better coaches
Part of becoming an effective coach is learning about your direct report; their unique strengths, what drains them, and what motivates them so you can help guide them on their path to success. One way to accomplish this is by asking the right questions at the right cadence. Here are 5 questions you can start asking your people every week during check ins and 1-on-1s:
• What’s going well in your role? Any wins this week?
• What challenges are you facing?
• How are you feeling? What’s the morale around you?
• On a scale of 1-10, how fulfilled are you? Why?
• How can I become a better leader?
Having intentional conversations on a regular basis will help you form deeper connections with your employees. These discussions will also contribute to building a more psychologically safe environment for employees to be open and honest.
3. Enhance cross-departmental collaboration
A truly cohesive workforce that excels at cross-departmental training can help bridge the gap between cultures, give employees the opportunity to learn more about other parts of the business, and encourage more empathy across the board. But the truth is, most teams aren’t natural collaborators.
Without the right structures in place to help your people to connect, some initiatives could run the risk of falling flat. For example, your marketing department is aiming to enhance the company’s brand with new content but doesn’t consult with the sales or customer service teams. If the marketing team isn’t fully aware of the unique pain points of their customers, the message most likely won’t resonate. Although this is just one instance, a collaboration problem could lead to more detrimental results.
4. Emphasize soft skills
Unfortunately, these vital competencies are often de-emphasized in corporate environments. Even the name “soft skills” makes them seem relatively unnecessary, but “These skills are not ‘soft’ – they’re highly complex, take years to learn, and are always changing in their scope.”
Businesses are a collection of human beings working together, so building core relationship skills, like the ability to collaborate and communicate, is one of the most important things that a company can encourage.
5. Invest in personal development
Your employees don’t just exist in a professional capacity to serve your organization. They are whole human beings comprised of physical, intellectual, and emotional experiences. For them to evolve both personally and professionally, employee development must be holistic. This includes:
Ask questions like, “How do you feel about your work lately? Are you struggling with anything?” This meets our basic needs to be seen, heard, acknowledged, and validated—needs that often go unmet in many work environments.
Books and seminars don’t just have to be about business. You can provide continuing education around personal finance or fostering healthy relationships.
Encouraging your people to step away from their desks when the workday is complete and allowing them to practice more self care shows that you don’t just depend on the skills on their job description, but you care about them as people.
When employees are given the tools to do their jobs well and train to advance in their careers, they are more likely to feel inspired to do their best work. And your reputation for stellar employee development might just encourage the best and brightest candidates to join your team.