Many employees feel behind in the workforce. They feel that their current skills don't properly equip them for today's workforce, let alone for their ideal future career. According to a recent survey, 70% of employees don't feel they've mastered the skills they need in their current roles, and 80% said they lack the skills required for their current and future careers.
While professional growth should be top of mind for employees and employers year-round, National Career Development Month in November is a great time to implement thoughtful best practices.
Fortunately, there are several small steps companies can take to facilitate employee development in big ways. Here are some tips to get meaningful career development going:
Understand what drives employees
The initial step employers often skip is the most important one of all—finding out what makes their employees tick. This requires a tailored approach, recognizing each employee as a unique individual with their own motivations, needs, and ambitions. Research has shown that less than half of employees have a long-term vision of what they want, even though nearly half (39%) ranked a clear, actionable plan as a crucial tool in attaining their dream careers.
Employers and managers should assist their people in discovering what drives them and where they’d like their career journey to lead. Managers can use check-ins to start the ongoing development dialogue, asking questions like:
How did you get to this place in your career?
What do you see as your pinnacle or ultimate career destination?
What skills do you think you'll need to get there?
Once managers and employees uncover what truly motivates each individual, they can co-author a plan to fulfill unmet needs. Even if employees want to land a role well outside what the organization has to offer, there are still several transferable skills—like problem-solving or entrepreneurship—that could help them perform better in their current and dream jobs.
If an employer shows a commitment to developing employees in ways that align with their long-term career goals, chances are those employees will stick around longer and be more productive.
Let employees take the development driver's seat
Every member of any organization has their own goals, strengths, and motivators. It doesn't make sense to have a one-size-fits-all development approach, even when employees have the same role.
This doesn't necessarily mean giving more work to time-crunched managers. Today's employees crave autonomy and control over their career development, and companies that empower employees to take the lead and provide a diverse set of development opportunities will win the war on attracting and retaining top talent.
A learning library that allows for anytime, anywhere courses centered around transferable skills is a great place to start.
Enable social learning and connection
Formal learning is a critical piece of any L&D strategy, but shouldn't be relied on to do all the heavy lifting when it comes to employee development. In addition to self-directed formal and informal learning paths, employers should foster multiple ways for employees to connect and grow each other's skills. Social learning, anyone?
Mentorship relationships are making a comeback, but they're only effective when they aren't forced from the top down. Companies can leverage searchable tools to help employees share what they're good at and which skills they'd like to develop, enabling organic mentor-mentee relationships to form and thrive.
Workplace connections can also grow through peer-to-peer coaching, group projects, job shadowing, or role-playing exercises that build trust while mastering new, career-pinnacle related skills.
Offer support for every step of the way
When development activities align with employee career goals and company objectives, everyone wins. Employers should leverage these tips to encourage relevant career development and connection, using frequent conversations as the glue that holds it all together.