For many companies, shaping a professional development program is a key component of human resources strategy for 2016 and beyond. Research indicates that for seventy-six percent of employees, opportunities to advance their skills are among the top three non-financial motivators. Bersin reports how companies are spending fifteen percent more on professional development today than they did just one year ago. It’s clear that strengthening your staff’s skills can yield a significant competitive advantage. Whether your goals are to attract a better caliber of employee, retain your best talent or close critical skill gaps, you can benefit from recent advancements in employee learning strategies and yield better outcomes.
1. In-House Certification Programs
Developing an in-house certification program can create a level playing field that allows motivated workers to shine. In a Forrester case study of travel brand Maritz, the organization saw a number of benefits by having custom certification-driven eLearning courses developed for technology workers. These benefits included:
- A centralized road map for incremental skills development
- Increased employee motivation to pursue certifications
- Improved recruitment of talented new hires
Creating transparency in your professional development programs can facilitate healthy competition and move your organization toward a culture of continuing education. Maritz realized many common approaches to skill assessment were faulty. By implementing “competition and code judging” among their developers, the organization improved their skills assessment and culture of learning. Transparency in your professional development programs can facilitate small learning groups, higher achievement and better self-awareness among your staff.
3. Community-Based Learning
IBM is an organization that has taken a particularly community-driven approach to growing talent. Per Training Mag, IBM’s community-based learning resources include:
- Technical communities “lead by subject matter experts”
- Online employee directories
- Employee-driven knowledge assets, such as an internal wiki
- Socialization, career and expert mentors
Today’s talented workers need more than learning programs to improve skills and competencies, although these programs are critically important. Facilitating community-based learning can allow organizations to transfer context-based knowledge between the older and younger generations of workers. By including mentor programs in your professional development strategy, your organization can foster positive decision-making, industry-specific knowledge and relationship-building qualities critical to shaping tomorrow’s business leaders.
Twenty percent of the American population will be 65 or older by 2020. Human resources professionals are acutely aware of the pending “silver tsunami,” or a wave of retirements among baby boomer employees that will leave many organizations with significant skill gaps and difficulty recruiting technology and leadership roles. By establishing a strong professional development strategy for 2016, you can facilitate a culture of learning for years to come.