In a knowledge-based economy, no resource is more important than a highly skilled and passionate workforce. Finding the best employees can be difficult, especially given the realities of the current labor shortage. This is why it is more important than ever to invest in corporate professional development.
Creating a professional development process can look dramatically different from one industry to the next, but it is always vital to attracting, retaining, and promoting the most impressive professionals. However, implementing a corporate training solution can be complicated, so we have compiled a thorough guide to get you started — plus ideas for resources you can call on to streamline the process.
Benefits of Corporate Professional Development Programs
Despite the best intentions, many business leaders consistently struggle to implement professional training opportunities. Often, this neglect occurs because leaders have simply lost sight of the long-term advantages that corporate training provides. Key benefits worth keeping in mind include:
Employee Job Satisfaction and Retention
While pay raises and robust benefits can help to boost employee satisfaction, professionals are far more likely to give their jobs high marks if they feel confident about their future.
Professional development inspires much-needed confidence by verifying your willingness to invest in your employees’ future. It does not matter how much they love their current work; if they suspect their career path will stall, professionals will be quick to head for greener pastures.
Even if they are not focused on rising through the ranks, employees find their work more exciting and empowering if management regularly provides them with new challenges. Training programs offer the challenges these employees crave, thereby keeping their work from feeling stagnant. Newly energized by corporate training, employees will approach everyday tasks with a greater sense of passion.
The latest research demonstrates the crucial role that learning and development play in employee retention. A 2022 study from the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) and TalentLMS reveals that 76 percent of employees are more likely to stick with companies that offer ongoing training.
Increase Employee Talent and Leadership Pool from Within
Far-reaching recruitment strategies may be valuable for bringing fresh perspectives to your organization, but do not get too dependent on seeking outside talent. Often, the best and brightest minds are already occupying entry-level positions, but these promising professionals may need a little nurturing before they reach their full potential.
If exposed to the proper development opportunities, naturally talented employees will rise to the occasion and begin their inspiring ascent up the career ladder. Investing in current employees leads to a strong pool of qualified candidates to fill the open leadership positions of tomorrow.
Employees hired from within can be a massive asset to your organization. If they have risen through the ranks, they will be better capable of promoting the corporate culture you have worked so hard to implement. It should come as no surprise that 85 percent of HR managers from the aforementioned SHRM study believe that corporate training is vital for organizational growth.
Improve Brand Reputation and Corporate Unity
A solid corporate culture begins with recruitment and hiring but should be continually cultivated from within. Training programs accomplish this by providing a powerful reminder of what your organization stands for — and how it can live up to these ideals. Professionals quickly take these messages to heart.
If exposed to regular reminders about your corporate culture, employees are likelier to epitomize prized qualities to the point that people outside your organization take note, ultimately improving brand reputation.
As a 2018 McKinsey report points out, a strong reputation is worth cultivating because it says “a great deal about [your] success in the market, financial strengths, position in the industry, and products and services.”
Maintain Competitiveness in the Industry
In a fast-paced business environment, it can be easy to fall into the trap of constantly chasing the next big trend, regardless of whether it stands to benefit your organization over time.
In reality, long-term competitiveness relies on building and maintaining a strong workforce, as we have touched on previously. With skilled professionals can you hope to strategically implement innovative solutions that could take your business to the next level.
How to Develop a Learning Culture
While high-level training can make a world of difference, employees should not rely on the occasional video or workshop alone to gain valuable new skills and knowledge. A wide range of development opportunities should be available — and professionals should be prepared to take advantage of these whenever and wherever they are offered.
This process begins with developing a culture of learning. Within this environment, the pursuit of knowledge can take many forms — but it is always a priority. Prized qualities should include creativity, inquisitiveness, and empathy. Leadership should emphasize the essentials from day one.
Cultivating a learning culture begins with hiring and continues through onboarding and, of course, during ongoing conversations with employees. Let them know why this approach is so important and how they will benefit personally from engaging in long-term learning initiatives.
Like any cultural change, creating a learning-oriented organization should involve top-down efforts. Leaders will ideally be just as excited to learn as they expect their employees to be. They should be ready to listen carefully to workers’ feedback, as you never know when an important lesson may be in store. What is more, leaders should participate in ongoing coursework, mentorships, and reading programs.
Types of Employee Development Programs
Employee development should be a layered, comprehensive endeavor incorporating several forms of training and support. Remember: what works well for one employee may be less helpful for somebody else.
It takes a variety of opportunities to accommodate all employees, regardless of academic background, work experience, and demographics. Solutions worth implementing include:
- Experienced professionals can mentor new employees to gain insight into the unique blend of skills it takes to succeed within a particular niche. Meanwhile, senior employees also benefit from taking on the role of mentor. This mentorship allows them to share their expertise, and the novice employees with whom they are paired may also offer fresh insights into the latest research or technological innovations.
- Short-form training. Sometimes referred to as microlearning, this category encompasses any training sessions that can be completed in fewer than ten minutes each. Short and succinct, these bite-sized lessons focus on one or two simple takeaways.
- Book clubs. Simple yet effective, book clubs are among the most accessible training initiatives to implement. These groups help employees build stronger connections with one another while also gaining exposure to essential concepts they might otherwise never encounter. Choose books carefully; they will ideally introduce employees to cutting-edge ideas but should also be entertaining enough to keep them reading.
- University-based programs. Many small businesses and nonprofits lack the resources necessary to implement large-scale training programs. Therein lies the value of partnering with a respected institution. Continuing education programs are particularly well-suited to equipping employees with the soft skills they need. College resources such as Post’s School of Continuing Education, with more tan 130 courses and certificates, can customize online learning opportunities to fit your employees’ unique needs and preferences.
What to Look for when Considering Training Programs
No one approach to employee development will be ideal across all industries or businesses. You must strategically select programs to reflect the current realities of your organization, as well as your long-term vision and goals.
How you choose and implement a corporate training program will largely depend on the resources at your disposal and the time you are willing to dedicate to this endeavor. Some businesses are capable of building robust in-house training programs, while others require more help.
Begin by determining the “why” behind your corporate training: what do you hope to accomplish? Perhaps your employees’ communication skills need brushing up — or maybe time management is a point of concern. Either way, you should understand the scope of your training needs before you choose a particular approach.
As with other aspects of running your operation, you may come to realize that outsourcing this process makes sense from a business perspective. Freed from the burden of developing an in-house training program, you can focus on other pursuits more closely aligned with your current capabilities.
Level Up Your Corporate Training Program
Whether you are looking to boost employee morale, productivity, innovation, or all of the above, our team at Post can help make it happen. Partner with our School of Continuing Education to create a targeted corporate training program that considers the complex realities of today’s workplace.
At Post, we are pleased to offer online learning solutions for employees from all walks of life. We can help professionals build much-needed communication and problem-solving skills. With our assistance, customer service and time management should also step up. Get in touch to learn more about the many individual and organizational benefits that a well-crafted corporate training program could provide.