While the customer is the most important part of any business, it is the relationship that our employees have with them that becomes integral to the success of any developing company. Whether you are a struggling business, or a well-established one, most important investment you can ever make is in your employees. Their development has to be part of the business framework. In addition to this, there should be a culture in place to inform and educate your employees. But as many businesses have to play Sophie’s Choice with their finances, we've got to figure out a way to invest in our employees’ development. Why do we need to do this, but what are the ways that we can implement this effectively?
It may seem like stating the obvious, but our employees need developing. Nobody comes into the company fully formed. It's those rough diamonds that need polishing that can be beneficial to the company in so many different ways. We've got to stop looking at our employee as a bunch of skills in one person. But our employees can benefit the business in so many different ways…
There are so many different training and development programs that can benefit employees, but it can make a company more flexible in the wider market. Having employees either take part in an in-house development program, or undertake one by a more professional body, like the University of Southern California, can be pivotal in having a group of employees that aren't just well trained, but are able to react to changes in the market. This naturally benefits your company now, but also in the long run.
Employee turnover is one of those dreaded subjects in any business. When you have to dig deep to find the reasons why, they can seem very obvious. It can be due to the corporate culture, or it can be due to the fact that an employee doesn't feel supported. When you support an employee, by actively taking an interest in their development, you naturally minimise turnover. In addition to this, you increase their loyalty. Having your employees feel appreciated makes them more loyal, which means they are more likely to stay at your business, but also recommend others to come and work for you.
Finding the right employee is gold dust. As such, you've got to be more competitive in finding the right people. When you offer employee development and training, especially this is part of your benefits package; this can attract a certain calibre of candidate. These days, people don't want a job that they can coast in. Instead, they want to be supported and nurtured, but at the same time, they need to have the perks in abundance. By supporting your staff, especially those that have come from a more professionally deprived background, makes them feel like you have their back. Having support for your staff members in this respect is a very simple thing that can inspire trust.
Everybody has their own approach to employee development. But when the budget is an issue, we can struggle to find the one best approach. Investing in our employees isn't a one-size-fits-all method, but it's about playing the long game. As such, investing in our employees’ development can take numerous forms…
It may sound like common sense, but by providing constructive criticism of your employees' development means they get a better idea on how they are progressing. Employee appraisals are a regular thing that should be done. But as many businesses feel that they don't have the time to give their employees the necessary feedback, this can result in employees feeling unimportant. Instead, implementing the approach that you provide regular feedback, but also constructive feedback means that they are able to take on board proper criticisms, but also figure out where they are falling down. Part of their development isn't just about putting them on courses; it is about making them realise where they stand and in the bigger picture.
And as a logical follow on from this, by giving them their own personalised development plan, that they have an active input in, they will be able to develop their own strengths, but also learn new ones as well. It's important that you don't use a one-size-fits-all approach. While general frameworks are all well and good, it could benefit you to ask the employer what they want to achieve. You'd be surprised, because a lot of people feel that they are not able to speak their mind, or tell you what they really want to achieve, because of fear that it won't fit into the business culture or framework. But this is why it's important for you to continually develop your business concurrently. That way, everybody is developing at the same time. While you have a certain vision for your business, you have to remember that it has to be malleable to an extent. Your employees need developing, but they won't develop the way that you want them to.
In the modern business framework, collaboration is integral. If we want our employees to develop, but we don't necessarily have the budget, collaboration is one of those great ways to get a free education. Having employees collaborate on certain tasks, especially those employees that are diametrically opposed in terms of values and skills, could bring up a whole new way of working, and generating new and exciting ideas. It's one of those aspects that many companies want to encourage, but they don't necessarily have the time or the resources. Instead, by encouraging collaboration on a small percentage of tasks, you can find a method to slowly alter the approach your employees have to their work. As a business slowly develops and stretches itself further, it can be an important stepping stone to altering the corporate culture. Many businesses talk about people being the priority, when it is anything but. If you want to shake up your employees and get them to develop in a manner that suits them and you, it's important to get them out of their comfort zone. Collaboration can do this.
And for those people who are looking to progress, they may actively ask you if they can go sit on other teams, but it's beneficial for the business across the board. When employees need to develop their skills, or get a wider appreciation of the business, implementing departmental rotations and getting people to sit with other teams give them a better perception of the big picture. But in terms of development, it means that they can add numerous strings to their bow, give them a sneak preview of what else is within the business, and give them something else to aim for.
In terms of developing employees’ skills, you don't always have to send them on an expensive course. Instead, if you work at meeting the framework of the business malleable, and develop the culture as one that works towards development for each individual member, and is tailor-made to their capabilities, this will work far better for the development of each individual employee, as well as the business. We should invest in our employees’ development anyway, but many businesses don't. And perhaps it is now time for you, especially if you think yourself focused on people that you practice what you preach. We need to invest in our employee development, not just for their sake, but for ours.