What Employers Need to Know About Supporting Employee Growth

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If you’re an employer, chances are you’ve probably been an employee at some point in your career. However, if you’ve ever been an employee, it’s more than likely that you’ve had at least one job that did not prioritize employee growth. 

Think back to that time… we’ll wait. 

How did you feel in that role? Stagnant? Undervalued? Unmotivated? All of the above? 

It’s no secret that the last couple of years has altered the business landscape and how work is done. Between mandatory work-from-home orders, isolation, and just overall uncertainty, adjusting to the “new normal” has presented some unique challenges for people. So it makes you wonder… how are employees really feeling?

According to the Human Resources Director, more than three in five professionals (63%) have labelled 2021 as ‘the most stressful year at work ever.’ This links to findings that at least a quarter of respondents feel like they lack career motivation. 

Implementing a growth strategy framework to develop employee skills has always been important, but at a time when professionals are feeling more stressed and more unmotivated than ever – it is absolutely paramount.

Why Do Employee Growth Strategies Matter?

2 Employees on their laptops with a plant and coffee beside them.

A 2018 study by Udemy identified that 42% of millennial employees list learning and development as one of the most important benefits (coming in only after salary) when deciding where to work. An additional 73% expect that they will need to pursue further education or training to advance in their careers. Considering that millennials will make up 75 percent of the global workforce by 2025, these are essential stats to pay attention to. 

If workers expect you to have growth and development ideas, you certainly aren’t going to attract, let alone retain, top talent without them.

Looking to hire? Check out “The Recruitment Trends You Need to Embrace”

Aside from adapting to meet the expectations of the changing workforce, developing employee growth strategies in your business means, well… happy staff. More and more studies show that happiness is linked to productivity in the workplace, and people are delighted when they feel valued. Investing in the professional growth of your employees not only prepares them to grow in their roles and career, but the effort also shows that you care about them on a personal level. It’s simple, really – work hard to support the growth of your employees, and they’ll work hard to grow your business.     

I’m An Employer. How Do I Help Employees Grow?

Backlit image of woman in glasses contemplating through a window.

To remain happy, engaged, and productive at work, they need to continually grow in their skills and abilities. Promoting professional development in the workplace is not a “set it and forget it” process – you’re dealing with people, not crock-pots. As with many things, consistency is vital.

We recommend a “Three E” approach:

Encourage

An encouraged staff is the first piece in a successful growth framework. To create an encouraging environment and comfortable culture that prioritizes employee growth, employers should consider the following: 

Be Approachable: How can you expect employees to come to you if you make them nervous? Everyone has bad days, but you must check your attitude around the staff. When an employee comes to you with a problem, ensure your body language is open, maintain eye contact, and give them your undivided attention. If you are not in a position to offer these things, politely ask them to schedule a meeting with you. 

Connect: With much of the workforce now working from home, part-time or even permanently, individuals can start to feel siloed within their companies. To combat this increased level of segmentation, it’s more important than ever to make an effort to connect with your people. Pop by their desk to say hello or send them a quick note to ask how they are doing if they work from home.

Communicate Openly: Open communication within a workplace is extremely valuable. When you practice open communication, you allow employees to express their thoughts and feelings assertively. This communication style tells the employee that they are safe to be transparent without fear of repercussion. 

Welcome Feedback: People require constructive feedback to learn and grow, employers included. Therefore, deliver honest feedback and communicate that you expect it in return to your team.

Enable

While employees must take ownership of their own development, it is the employer’s responsibility to facilitate and enable their growth by:

Asking The Right Questions: Asking the right questions is key to unlocking employee growth potential. Examples of quality, growth-focused questions include:

  • What do you want out of this role?
  • What do you enjoy about the work you do here?
  • What are you finding difficult in your role?
  • How do you hope to advance in your role?
  • What do you need from us to support you in your growth? 

Pro tip: Integrating innovative screening tools in the beginning stages of the hiring process can help you build a motivated team by removing the guesswork. ResumeFree’s features, such as our Best Hire Booster™ reports, streamline your hiring process early on by identifying how candidates are best empowered and rewarded. By partnering with ResumeFree™ and taking advantage of our one-of-a-kind features, you can expect a higher retention rate and increased employee productivity. 

Remember, you can never fully know what hardships an individual is facing behind closed doors and how those hardships may be affecting their performance at work. So keep that in mind and respond to answers with empathy.  

Creating Growth Plans: If you want your employees to be receptive and excited about growing, take a personal interest in their goals. Professional development is not one-size-fits-all – every person learns differently, has unique needs, and retains information in their own way. Therefore, it’s crucial to create a tailored growth plan for each employee by including them in the brainstorming process. 

Offering (And Supporting) Training Programs: Can you believe that in 2021, 45% of employees said they would be more likely to stay at their current job if they were offered more training? That statistic clearly illustrates the importance of equipping employees with the tools they need to succeed from the get-go.

If you’re not convinced, consider that when companies offer comprehensive training programs, they have 218% higher income per employee and a 24% higher profit margin, according to Forbes. Wow!

If you are planning to offer internal L&D programs or support employees wishing to seek external training, make sure that these initiatives are accounted for in your budget. 

Did you know that you can utilize government grants for employee growth and professional development as an employer in Canada? Be sure to visit the Government of Canada for more information.

Strengthening your growth strategy framework doesn’t have to break the bank. Implementing mentorship programs, job shadowing, and Lunch & Learns are all effective, inexpensive ways to support employee growth while simultaneously making them feel appreciated.

Empower

You’ve created a promising approach. You’ve provided them with a framework to enable their development. Now, it’s time to empower your people to continue to grow and keep kicking butt.

Support Work-Life Balance: Mandatory work-from-home orders have proven that people can adapt and be productive in environments other than the office. Try being open to the idea of a more flexible workstyle, primarily if it benefits the employee’s well-being. Trust that the employees you’ve chosen to hire can manage their time and workload appropriately. 

Another way employers can support work-life balance is to encourage taking breaks. High-performing employees put enough pressure on themselves as it is, so mandates that break times and lunches are to be taken away from desks. Reject the “always-on” mentality and respect vacation time because remember that these people are already giving you a third of their lives!

Offer Recognition And Rewards:

Empowered employees can move mountains. So whether it is a bonus, a Starbucks gift card, or a simple “good job!” and pat on the back, don’t shy away from openly offering recognition and reward.

Employers want skilled and reliable labour, year-over-year growth, and a solid bottom line. Employees wish for a promising career, support from their higher-ups, and to feel valued in their role. If a business has a strong growth strategy, it can effectively meet the needs of both employee and employer; employees can experience advancement and job satisfaction, while employers can enjoy a lower turnover rate and increased profitability.

At the end of the day, if you want your business to succeed and grow in perpetuity, supporting employee development is a requirement. Because, the truth of it is – if you aren’t going to prioritize the growth of your people… someone else will.

Man looking up at the sky in relief.

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