As a business owner, you probably have many employee growth and development ideas. Despite consistently generating strong ideas, you might still be wondering how to retain your best employees. If you’re contemplating which ideas you should discard, the ones that don’t involve unique employee benefits or strong incentives should be the first to go. While you should aim to offer a variety of growth programs to maximize productivity, it’s often difficult to sustain short-term growth. In this article, we go over some of the best employee growth ideas and how you can implement them immediately for long-term results.
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What Is the Purpose of Employee Growth and Development Ideas?
Prospective employees generally apply to positions they think they can grow in. Many of them will be ambitious and motivated to learn new skills and broaden their career horizons, which is why it’s important for a business owner to attract employees with a dynamic and prospering work environment.
You should have a method for producing and testing new developmental ideas if you don’t have one already. The undergird of any strong and receptive system is consistent and reliable feedback. If you’re in the early stage of testing out new ideas and – to use a software development analogy – your product doesn’t pass the beta phase, then your user base (your employees) won’t gain anything prolonged or meaningful from your well-intentioned growth ideas.
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How Do I Know if My Development and Growth Ideas Are Good?
A strong growth model needs to offer a company benefits package that goes above and beyond what’s expected from an employer. Therefore, to know if an idea fits this criterion, consider the fact that most creative ways to attract employees will typically involve elaborate and adaptable compensation advancements.
One of the best examples of this type of benefits package is the BeMo partnership for employers. This program provides mutual and symbiotic benefits for both employees and employers. In this partnership, employees gain access to academic consulting services, which fall broadly under the heading of continuing education benefits for employees. This arrangement allows employers to relieve the stressful financial burden of admissions preparation for employees and their families. Here are some of the best employee benefits gained from this arrangement:
Ideally, your growth and development ideas should satisfy the above criteria. However, if you’re still wondering how you can adapt other programs that you want to incorporate, consider the following tips:
- Self-sufficiency: your employee growth and development ideas should eventually become self-fulfilling. You can judge the success of these programs by how effectively they enable natural self-improvement.
- Organize your culture: one of the barriers to substantial growth is an unorganized work culture. Your company’s values need to be deliberate and promoted across departments and roles to function properly. Involving your employees in decision making is one way to quickly coordinate your system and culture to achieve success with your growth models.
- Get management on board: without the cooperation of top management, the growth of your employees is likely to stagnate. To prevent this, discuss your ideas with managers so everyone is on the same page about what you want to achieve. If there are any sceptics, be sure to emphasize the strong correlation between company growth and employee development programs.
The Best Growth and Development Ideas
#1 Start Off Strong with Onboarding and Training
Establishing an upward growth trajectory right away is crucial. This is why having careful and calculated employee recruitment strategies and onboarding is important for setting new employees up for success at your organization.
You should begin a new employee’s introduction to the company with a warm welcome from everyone they will be working closely with. New recruits should have an opportunity to get acquainted with the environment, so be sure to show them around the location and point out where they can access pertinent resources. For remote companies, have a manager help new team members navigate online portals or technologies through an interactive training session where they can ask questions and try out different features.
You need to be as clear as possible about how new employees can integrate into their roles quickly and comfortably. Employees should exit their first day feeling proud to be a part of their new affiliate and motivated to learn how the company functions. Stressing company values, philosophy, and mission will be paramount. Although employees should be encouraged to develop their own identities with the company, they should still feel at home and not isolated in their roles.
Here are a few goals that should be a part of your onboarding process:
- Prepare employees for their first day: after you get all the paperwork out of the way, you should meet to discuss expectations and schedule. This will demystify the experience so employees can feel confident stepping into their new roles. Send them an email with easy-to-follow steps for what they will need on their first day, followed by where they can access pertinent information.
- Check in regularly: while you should do your best to eliminate the need for questions with clear and detailed standard operating procedures (SOPs), new recruits will still have lots of questions. Be sure to check in with the new hire regularly and ask them to send you daily updates so you can help them overcome certain obstacles.
- Set goals right away: while most of the goals for a new hire will be assigned, you should encourage them to develop their own. In the early stages, they might not know what they want to accomplish. Stimulate goal setting by prompting them with questions that might help them think about their performance and how they want to contribute.
#2 Use 360-Degree Feedback
A good feedback structure is key to helping employees identify ways to improve that they might not notice or take the initiative to address themselves. The 360-degree feedback model is founded on the principle of consistent and comprehensive feedback. This means that employees will receive criticism from managers, colleagues, and even customers or clients.
For this model to succeed, it needs to be planned effectively; otherwise, you risk overwhelming and flooding your employees with too much information. This means that feedback should be predictable, positive, and productive. Each report should be actionable and aimed at optimizing motivation. You need employees to feel enthusiastic about receiving these reports and not confuse them with disciplinary action.
Keep the following in mind if you intend to use this rewarding but delicate feedback system:
- Weigh the positives with the negatives: 360-degree feedback reports generally do not mention strengths. For this reason, employees can sometimes view these reports as unappreciative or undermining. To keep criticism constructive, make sure you monitor the tone of these reports and balance this criticism with a note on what the employee is doing well.
- Follow-up: once everyone gets a chance to read over their reports and reflect on how they’re going to proceed, follow up to agree on a plan. If they mention that an aspect of the report wasn’t fair or accurate, give them a chance to explain why. Be supportive of their goals and encourage the use of available resources.
- Make surveys anonymous: some companies make 360-feedback surveys anonymous to protect identities. This can sometimes help avoid conflict and make everyone feel more comfortable about receiving feedback. In some cases, employees will prefer the opposite – to have open dialogue in team meetings or group settings. Make accommodations when you can but be assertive with your formatting decision.
#3 Use a Learning Management System
One of the lesser known innovative employee perks is what’s called a learning management system (LMS), which is an application that allows employers to deliver and track training resources. Essentially, this digital training method is an e-learning content organization system that stores lectures, quizzes, and other learning programs. As far as out-of-the-box recruiting strategies go, this is one of the most effective.
The benefit of an LMS is that you can track progress and evaluate training benchmarks more easily. As an employer, it also gives you the advantage of being able to add new training goals and communicate objectives in an integrated fashion. For HR departments dealing with frequent hires, it can help to store all the important training information in one place.
Here are the steps you can take to implement this new system:
- Choose the right platform: there are many e-learning platforms you can choose from, but it all depends on what you want your training to consist of. As you start to refine your criteria, establish your objectives and priorities for your new employees.
- Segment for department/role: you can specialize your management system specifically for each department and role. This way, if you need to revise the content or learning sections for a certain group, you can do it quickly and effectively.
- Add progress checks: the primary advantage of an LMS is the enhanced ability to track progress and distribute suggestions based on results. Be sure to design your system with a tracking tool that you can view, so everyone can collaborate effectively on important milestones.
#4 Try Cross-department Training
Cross-department training is a training technique that allows employees to experience different departments so that they develop skills that allow them to contribute to other areas of the company. This development idea is typically best for higher-level and more experienced employees, although some companies find success with it for newer recruits.
This training procedure is ideal for companies that want to hire internally to avoid undergoing a potentially lengthy onboarding process. The benefit of cross-department training is that you can create a flexible work environment for employees to explore their interests or other roles that might help them advance in their careers. Given that scalability is one of the top job satisfaction factors, this development idea is particularly valuable.
There are a few notable characteristics of a strong cross-department implementation process:
- Prioritize departments: departments that are understaffed or in need of resources will benefit the most from cross-department training. Also, training multiple departments all at once isn’t feasible and will likely cause confusion. Choose one or two departments to begin with, ideally the ones with fewer employees.
- Ask your employees what they want to learn: oftentimes, your employees will have an idea of what role or department they want to switch to. If there are roles across departments that collaborate frequently, this can be a good place to start swapping roles.
- Choose strong mentors: with a complex program like cross-department training, it’s important to choose strong mentors and supervisors to oversee the exchange. Even when you’re hiring internally, providing adequate training is essential for helping employees make the transition.
#5 Reward and Recognize
Giving credit where it’s due is an important but unfortunately overlooked method of encouraging growth among employees. Companies are generally good at offering criticism or constructive feedback (which is also very important), but sometimes it’s better to show employees what they’re doing well as opposed to what they need to work on.
Ideally, you will need a combination of monetary and non-cash praise to harvest a culture of due reward and recognition. Employee motivation can have many psychological nuances, but there’s a surprisingly simple formula: have a combination of compensatory and verbal praise available for employees who might differ in terms of what inspires them.
It’s important to distinguish reward and recognition because these two terms often get conflated. Employee reward systems are usually benefits or monetary gains that sometimes reflect changes in salary. By contrast, recognition is psychological in nature – it more often manifests in compliments and verbal praise. Keeping these two terms separate can help you decide which contexts are appropriate. Here are some ideas you can use that involve both approaches:
- Appreciation events: set up regular employee appreciation events like lunches or dinners for your staff. Hosting these even once or twice a year can help motivate employees to develop as professionals.
- Wellness benefits: there are a variety of wellness benefits you can offer your employees besides health and dental insurance, for instance, transit options, fitness plans, and nutrition programs.
- Spot bonuses: a spot bonus is an example of a spontaneous compensatory reward for outstanding achievement. Some companies find great success motivating their employees with a monthly or weekly bonus like this, as it gives employees something to strive for as they complete their work quotas.
1. How do I come up with great employee growth and development ideas?
To come up with great ideas, survey your employees and ask what motivates them. Typically, you will need a strong benefits program with unique options to appeal to everyone’s motivation style.
2. What is cross-department training?
Cross-department training is when members from different departments trade positions and train one another in their established positions to facilitate internal hiring.
3. How can I recognize my employees for their achievements?
Every productive and healthy system should reward and recognize its employees for going above and beyond. Try introducing a more complete wellness program or setting up occasional appreciation events.
4. How do I make the most of a learning management system?
The goal of a learning management system is to make training easier and more productive. First, you need to choose a program that fits your company’s needs. Then, make sure you identify the departments/positions that would benefit from this system and customize the system accordingly.
5. What’s something I should be careful about with 360-degree feedback?
Because this type of feedback can be overwhelming, you need to regulate your tone in these sessions and make sure everyone is content with the suggestions they’re receiving. Communicate with your employees to help them come up with revised goals based on feedback.
6. How can I start new recruits off on the right foot?
It’s important to ensure your onboarding system is comprehensive and supportive to set new employees up for success. You can do this by meeting new hires on their first day to discuss what resources they have available and what your expectations are. Communicate regularly to make sure they’re progressing at a comfortable rate.
7. How can I get to know my employees better?
Host casual events and promote volunteer opportunities so that you can get to know your employees better outside of a work context. You can also set up a virtual workspace where employees can discuss non-work-related topics.
8. How do I know if my employee growth and development ideas are good?
Ideally, your development strategies should save time and money. If possible, they should also help grow your business and enable your employees to advance in their careers.
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