3 ways to improve employee growth

Cecilia Gorman offers advice to those leaders and managers struggling to find time for training, learning and development 

Offering your employees an opportunity for training and development is essential to your business’s success. You’ll not only grow your organisation, but you’ll improve productivity, decrease employee turnover, and build assets for your business’s future.
Unfortunately, many businesses shrug off training and development. Time is often the biggest hurdle, but it only serves to stagnate the company and drive employees to seek other opportunities. At a time when good talent is hard to find, you can’t afford to neglect the employees you have.
Whether it’s the post-pandemic challenges, increasing consumer demand, or unfilled positions, many organisations struggle to prioritise employee development. If there’s not enough time in the day to do the work you have to do, putting aside hours for ongoing training and learning sessions may seem impossible.
But that’s not good enough. There is a way to balance your responsibilities and put a focus on employee growth, no matter how busy things get. Here’s how.
1. Why you need employee development
Smart businesses are putting a lot of time and resources into employee training and development. That should indicate how important it is.
Gaining competitive edge
New businesses are cropping up every day, all competing for the same consumers and their hard-earned dollar. According to a study from the Association for Talent Development (ATD), businesses that put resources toward formal training and development saw a 24% increase in profit margin than their counterparts.
Bridging the skills gap
About 75% of HR professionals cite a shortage of skills in candidates for job openings, making it more difficult to find the right talent to fill vital roles. By investing in your employees, you can bridge this skills gap by preparing your own workforce in the essential skills your business will need as it moves forward. This not only saves you money, but it helps your employees gain the necessary skills to be more desired candidates.
Improving collaboration
If you invest in your employees, you’re giving them the tools to collaborate better and work more effectively with other departments. The benefit for you is a better end product that comes from inspired and creative minds working together.
Boosting employee morale and satisfaction
Employee morale is a significant aspect of productivity. If you put effort into employee development, you’re giving your employees motivation to work harder and reach their goals. They can stay sharp and advance in their careers, whether they stay at your organisation or not.
2. Strategies for prioritising employee growth
Start with the end in mind
According to Stephen Covey, we should “start with the end in mind” that means in an in-person training scenario, you should consider the end goal first. What are you expecting to gain from employee training and development? Once you have the end goal in mind, you can reverse-engineer the ideal training solutions to make it a reality.
The benefit for you is a better end product that comes from inspired and creative minds working together
If the goal is to improve the close rate for your sales team, you can look for specific sales training that offers one-on-one sessions and group sessions. If you want your department heads to deliver better presentations, then confidence training or presentation training could be helpful.
Without these goals, it would be difficult to determine the appropriate training and development programmes to pursue. And with time and resources strained, it’s important to make your training count.
If the goals aren’t coming to mind, here are some tips to help the process along:
What skill do you want to see developed in your team?
For individual employees, what skill is most useful in their current and future roles?
For a team, what skill would be beneficial to help everyone succeed?
Questions like these give you inspiration to define goals specific to your organisation and employees, then determine the best training programmes for them.
Divide training into short sessions
Employees often struggle to find the time to tackle their workload, let alone devote hours to training. If the training takes multiple days or weeks, they’ll be left with a lot of unfinished work, burnout, and no time to get caught up.
Training doesn’t need to take hours out of the day or weeks on end, however. Dividing training into short, digestible sessions not only helps with the time constraints, but it’s actually the better way to learn and retain new information.
What would training and development look like with shorter periods? For example, is a 10-minute training session from an internal department head something that needs to be in person, or could it be sent in an email for later viewing? Remember, it’s not the time that they put in, but how effectively the information is delivered.
Of course, not every skill can be learned with just a few 10-minute sessions. Consider what skills could be gained in short training sessions, vs. skills that require a half hour or an hour to truly digest. Plan your training to include these short sessions in a strategic development plan.
Outsource training solutions
If employee training and development gives you stress, why not outsource it? Finding a training solution or partner can relieve the time and stress in planning and delivering training. These programs have a strategic approach and previous success, so they’re ready to provide what your employees need.
The best way to start is by identifying the most important skill or biggest pain point in employee training. Then, you can search for training solutions that are designed to build the skills you need the most.
Consider speaking to others in your network to get referrals for partners or training solutions. Learn what worked and what didn’t about the programmes they’ve tried. This will reduce time spent finding the programmes or partners you need.
3. Prioritise development for business’s future
There’s rarely a day without a challenge in business. Whether it’s customer demands, time constraints, or the ongoing labour shortage, there will always be hurdles to overcome. That doesn’t mean you have to neglect employee training and development, in fact, investing in your employees could help you weather some of the challenges your business faces. 
Cecilia Gorman is a veteran of the advertising industry and the owner of Creative Talent Partners

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