Skill development within the workplace has never been more important to employees, as research from several sources shows that younger workers want better access to improved learning opportunities in their current jobs – and they’re not afraid to quit if they don’t receive them. This development culture can keep great employees — or a lack of one can cause many to find another company to work for.
Know Your “Why”s” and “How”s” for a Development Culture Workforce
Statistics show that around 74% of full-time employees and workers are open to learning new skills, with some even open to undergoing re-training on the job to remain employable.
A further 87% of Millennial workers, those born between 1981 and 1996, have said that learning and development are crucial in the workplace. After all, this generation will, in the coming decade, make up a majority of the American workforce.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that by 2029, Millennials will represent 4.5 million full-time employees in the domestic labor market.
And this generation isn’t scared to hit their employees with a slew of resignations if they’re not offered better development opportunities too.
You can’t provide all the opportunities for your remote-first workforce. Ask for suggestions!
Between Millennials and Generation Z, those born between 1997 and 2012, 74% said that they are likely to resign within a year if their employers cannot provide them with sufficient skills development opportunities, according to one study.
Other factors such as better pay, improved work-life balance, and flexible working arrangements such as remote or hybrid work are among the top-ranking priorities for some Millennial and Gen Z employees, according to LinkedIn research.
Droves of employees desire skills development opportunities in the workplace. For remote-only teams, it’s even more essential to provide them with the right tools and resources to minimize absenteeism and voluntary resignation.
Understanding skills development from the ground-up
While many companies have returned to the office over recent months as pandemic-related concerns have waned, others have opted to introduce remote-only working policies.
Though remote work offers employees better autonomy and work-life balance, it often leaves some employees feeling disconnected from their peers and managers. While these factors can influence how teams perform, it often impacts their engagement.
Working from home has pushed employees into isolation, as 40% of remote workers said that the virtual office has made it more difficult for them to connect with colleagues. Even more, around 31% said they have struggled to foster a relationship with their line manager or senior colleagues because of the virtual setup.
For what it’s worth, research from Harvard Business Review does show that remote employees are perhaps now more engaged than before the pandemic.
Engagement within the virtual office helps employees connect and establish relationships with their colleagues and managers. It helps to form a company culture of development and build up employee morale – creating a more supportive structure that can help to accommodate employee needs.
And when companies provide employees, not only those that work from home, with opportunities to learn, they are 3.6 times more likely to see an increase in their happiness and job satisfaction or 2.9 times more likely to report wanting to remain at their current organization in two years.
10 ways to foster a culture of development
While it’s one thing to provide employees with the right training and skills development, it’s often more important to have the right strategy at hand to successfully implement across all organizational levels.
Understand what employees want
The first step would be to look at your employee’s needs. Addressing your employee’s needs is why it’s important to involve everyone at different levels of the organization. Taking the time to get a better idea of what employees want to learn or which skills they want to improve will help determine the right type of structure to implement.
Assess learning preferences
Another facet to consider is how employees want to learn — and through which mediums. Although online coaching sessions and remote workshops may benefit your team, other forms, such as private talks or intimate meetings, may give others a better learning opportunity. Consider the benefits of networking at live events, which gives additional knowledge, poise, and skills to your employees. For the very highest-quality experience, it’s best to make space for a variety of learning preferences that don’t exclude any employees.
Consider the power of group training sessions
If your company is not in a position to outsource training or skills development, consider how group training sessions can help employees. These sessions should cover important facets of the work or company and be insightful yet engaging, ensuring all employees can benefit from the time they spend on these sessions.
Emphasize being the active learning type learners
As a company, it’s important to emphasize fostering an active learning ecosystem and a development culture. New and older employees should be encouraged throughout their employee cycle to take up new skills or be supported by their managers and senior personnel to develop their abilities further.
Invest in the right resources and tech
It’s one thing to have group training sessions or provide employees with access to learning materials, but it becomes a challenge if the right systems are not in place to support these activities. Make sure that the company invests in the right set of resources and software devices that can be distributed among employees to help enhance their learning process.
Create an incentive or reward system
A bit of healthy competition among employees can help spark ingenuity and creativity and help foster better peer-to-peer relationships. Be more mindful of how incentive programs and reward systems can help employees boost their learning achievements.
Promote different courses and materials
Instead of focussing on one or two particular courses or learning materials, provide employees with different options. Make sure to balance this across several different categories to help facilitate more inclusive learning and development sessions.
Have dedicated learning time
Employees should be given enough time during their regular working schedule to undertake learning and skills development. Instead of bombarding them with massive amounts of learning materials and requiring them to finish them within their off time or over weekends, dedicate specific days of the week for upskilling.
The other day were had one of our employees who had been watching and learning from a Udemy course. The boss came past and looked at the employees’ progress — and noticed that the student-employee was on an earlier iteration of the course — the wrong course! All employees who have been emotionally bashed by former bosses in other employment situations — and were holding their breaths were all ears. The boss merely said, “Oh, you need to get the most current course, not this one. Has the company been charged for this course?” The employee said, “Yes.” The boss continued — “Okay, hurry and get on the updated course; you’ll like that a lot better, and you can teach everyone about it.” Done — no issue, no stress, no shame.
Interact with employees
Managers should take time to discuss some of the courses and how specific materials will help them enhance their performance and increase their career development. Be more open to engaging with employees who are struggling to cope with balancing work and skills development, or have group discussions about previous sessions and how you as a company can improve future opportunities. The example above indicates a personal example that I’ve seen that made all the difference to all employees in the room.
Encourage employees as much as possible
Finally, establish a sense of encouragement, not only among upper-level employees but among colleagues as well. Peer-to-peer support and encouragement can help keep remote employees motivated while at the same time helping to boost their confidence while bonding with their colleagues.
Development and upskilling is an element that provides employees with better work opportunities but can also help companies improve their employee retention and overall workplace satisfaction. And one course is a learning and teaching opportunity for the employee throughout the whole company.
Establishing a culture of development for remote teams not only means that companies are actively investing in their employees, but it helps to create a more collaborative spirit and highly effective team that can work in isolated conditions while still being productive. When someone has completed a course, it is shared with all employees, including our remote team members. The same process is expected from the remote team member who has just taken a course. They “teach” what they have learned (over Zoom) to the whole office — and we are instantly connected.
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Featured Image Credit: Photo by Andrea Piacquadio; Pexels; Thank you!