Each member of a company is just as valuable as the next, offering their own set of skills, insight and personality. As team members, your employees can work both individually and together to reach a common goal.
Personal growth of each employee contributes to the success of the entire business. Here are three ways to encourage professional development in the workplace.
1. Encourage educational opportunities in and out of the workplace.
Having a secure job doesn't mean employees need to stop learning academically. If workers are interested in furthering their education, they should be encouraged to do so, whether it's finishing college or simply building their skills with a class or two.
"The baseline of professional development is a college education, yet there are more than 30 million Americans that have partial college credit but don't have a college degree," said Adrian Ridner, CEO and co-founder of Study.com. Earning a college degree allows workers to perfect their skill sets in each industry, which benefits the company as well, he added.
Employers should consider additional programs for their employees to continue higher education at a lower cost. Companies can form partnerships or provide access to workplace education, like online lessons and in-house training sessions, Ridner stated.
"With the advent of technology and online learning, it's easier and more inexpensive than ever to foster a culture of learning in the workplace," he said.
2. Address skills gaps by empowering employees.
No worker is perfect, which is why it's necessary to address skill gaps. Leaders should sit down with their employees to cover any lacking areas, discuss improvement methods and offer support.
However, don't forget to acknowledge an employee's talent and skills in the areas where they excel. This builds confidence, said Ridner, and allows for a more skilled workforce and better employee retention and morale. Forty-two percent of millennials change jobs every one to three years, so empowering employees, especially younger workers who are susceptible to job hopping, will reduce turnover rates.
It's also crucial for employees to progress with societal developments. Since rapid technology advancements impact most industries, workers must have the professional skills to be flexible and transition with their companies, he said.
3. Organize initiatives to encourage new ideas.
Employers should arrange brainstorming groups or mentorship programs to help workers connect with each other, Ridner stated. For example, Study.com organizes 24-hour "Rockethons" where the company forms small teams to discuss ideas, create prototypes, improve tools and more.
Bouncing suggestions around the office will inspire employees to be passionate in their work, encouraging personal and professional growth for everyone.
"Creating a culture of learning in the workplace is a shared responsibility," Ridner said. "If your employer doesn't have any academic or professional development programs in place, feel free to suggest it."