What Does Successful Employee Development Look Like?

Sep 21 2021 | Insights

Employee development is a long-term practice that boosts the big picture of an organization, but what does it look like when it is successful in practice? EZRA discusses what a "best in class" professional and personal development program for employees looks like in a successful modern organization.

Every company has its own approach to the concept of development. Companies can develop in a cultural sense, improve their processes, change the products to meet a changing work landscape. But looking at the fundamentals of what makes a business develop, any good business comes down to good people. To help these people be their best, employee development should never be a one-size-fits-all process. 

Through an employer’s eyes, “perks” like team happy hours, casual Fridays or group yoga can seem like the best way to tell staff that they are cared for from a culture perspective. But if there's anything to learn from the pandemic, it is that employees demand more when it comes to development. 

A Wakefield Research study found that over 90 percent of employees would prefer that managers address learning opportunities and mistakes in real-time, not just at the annual review. So nix the Forced Fun Fridays or office ping pong table in favor of real-world, in-the-moment learning opportunities. Your team will appreciate a more honest investment in their development that goes deeper than surface level. 

With employee development, prepare to strap in for the long haul. It’s a long-term initiative, which many choose to forego, since the benefits aren’t immediately obvious. But if you stick with it, they are numerous! Better improvement, engagement, performance and more business loyalty are the real perks to be gained in your workplace. So what does successful employee development look like? 

Providing training and networking opportunities

Opportunities are not just something that would be nice to have, but should be pivotal to what increases employee engagement. According to SHRM's 2017 Employee Job Satisfaction and Engagement Report, 30 percent of employees considered career development opportunities for learning and personal growth as “very important.” 

You can incorporate a number of methods to help with this, such as structured development programs, but remember, the goal is to provide professional exposure. This doesn't mean that your employees are going to jump ship at the first possible opportunity, but you will show your employees that you are trusting them to fly the flag for the business. 

Provide professional training

According to Gartner, a jarring  70 percent of employees don’t have mastery of the skills needed to do their jobs properly. Not having the proper tools to perform is a set-up for failure. 

Business leaders need to seek out the right options for employees and managers to develop professional skills. If something doesn’t work, it will allow an employee to seek out a role more tailored to their career path. And it will serve the company because your workforce is growing and evolving, making it a win-win. 

Get collaborative

A workforce should feel like a well-oiled machine, with all parts working in unison. If your team is more in tune, you’ll see better results. 83 percent of employees rely on technology to collaborate so let’s bridge the gap as effectively as possible. Collaboration not only helps workers learn about different aspects of the business, but also improves empathy for those working in different roles.

Getting collaborative generally requires a warm-up period. Most teams are not natural when it comes to collaborating, but it’s an easier transition when collaboration is built right into your company culture as a best practice. 

Help your managers

How employees rate their managers accounts for roughly 14 percent of that individual’s level of engagement. Managers need to be your best “people people” and the most effective coaches and motivators. Being an effective coach is about learning the employees’ strengths, weaknesses, and motivations. Checking in with your managers on a one-to-one level provides a number of benefits: 

  • You are able to address the positives. 

  • You can look at the challenges. 

  • Regular check-ins allow the manager to offload any anxieties about their abilities to lead. 

  • It provides the perfect opportunity for them to learn how to be better at being a leader. 

It's crucial to have these conversations regularly, as it will help you form deeper connections with your managers, which will naturally transfer to the employees, therefore strengthening the bonds throughout the entire organization.

Don’t neglect “soft” skills

Soft skills are understated, and therefore, a perennially ignored aspect of modern business. According to the 2019 Global Talent Trends research conducted by LinkedIn, 80 percent of companies are struggling to find better soft skills in the market.

But “soft” doesn’t translate to simple. These skills are complex and can be tricky to learn, since they’re continually evolving. The nature of the pandemic has thrown up a number of communication problems, not least when it comes to Zoom meetings, as employees haven't been able to pick up on the more subtle nuances that they would otherwise have been able to in person. Businesses are a coalition of human beings working together, and communication skills are vital to helping a company collaborate, and improve itself. 

Re-emphasize personal development

How are your employees developing outside of “work mode”? Your employees do not just exist to serve you, they have a number of needs that will need to be addressed. Therefore, professional development demands personal development. This can be broken down into three key areas: 

  • Emotional health. Employees need their basic human desires to be acknowledged, yet these often go unmet in working environments. Simple questions, such as “are you struggling with anything?” or “how do you feel about your work?” can start that important conversation. 

  • Intellectual development. The concept of education in business doesn't necessarily mean providing information that exclusively relates to the business. The best businesses are able to develop working and human relationships. It's important that you provide holistic development in subjects that don't appear to be related to the company but are still essential for emotional health and intellectual growth. 

  • Physical health. Now, more than ever, people are finding it harder to step away from their desks at the end of the working day. Having the balance and focusing on self-care means that you should encourage and allow them to practice self-care so you are valuing them as a person. 

Deploying a professional development structure in the workplace is about the employee. When employees regain a sense of pride or empowerment in their work, this will naturally translate to a reinvigorated business with an engaged and motivated team that is more ready and able to take on the competition.

Bring employee needs to the forefront of your development plans with EZRA’s world-class employee coaching, built to fit into today’s working life. We’ve redesigned leadership coaching for the modern age to help transform people through affordable, scalable and high-impact solutions, with equitable access through our world-class coaching app. Find out today how digital coaching could make a big difference to your organization.

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