The employee landscape is changing, and with it has come new needs, desires and areas of importance for employees. This means employee development is no longer just about career development, but also goal alignment, non-monetary offerings, and simply, opportunities to prove themselves.
A quarter of employees would be more satisfied at work if they were given more opportunities to do what they do best, according to a 2013 study by BlessingWhite, and 5 percent directly said career development opportunities and training would increase their satisfaction.
As a leader, it’s critical to keep up with these changes and start investing time into employee development. Here are some ways I’ve been able to do it:
1. Place more importance on non-monetary motivators. Beyond money, things such as career growth and even professional inter-office relationships are extremely big motivators of satisfaction and engagement. The BlessingWhite study found that 25 percent of employees believed they would be more satisfied with their job if they had a better relationship with their manager.
Employees want to learn and grow with people they respect and who respect them in return. Maintain healthy office relationships by leading by example. If leaders within the organization get along well and openly work together, employees will do the same.
Additionally, it’s important to remember that, while professionalism is important, it is equally important to know your team on a personal level. Make an effort to have fun with your team and initiate conversations about things other than work.
2. Let employees do -- and improve upon -- what they do best. No matter their role or level, everyone wants to feel like their strengths are appreciated, effectively utilized and built upon. Companies are getting smart about this: A 2014 Bersin by Deloitte study found that, in the last year alone, corporate budgets for training and development have risen by 15 percent.
Related: 7 Ways to Keep Your Team Hungry
Whether you actually have one or not, don’t get stuck in the “corner office” rut and forget what truly motivates employees to keep contributing. Give them tools and opportunities that will help them exceed at their specialties, as well as build new ones. Get them outside the office to learn from other people and pick up new ways of doing things.
3. Align employee goals and preferences for a clearer vision. Throughout the company, every employee needs to not only have a good understanding of their personal goals and work preferences, but also of their colleagues’ roles and goals.
When working closely together, employees will naturally learn the work preferences of their team. However, it’s important that leadership learns those and respects them, as well.
Additionally, openly communicate how each role plays into the bigger picture of organizational goals to motivate employees to work harder and more efficiently in their position. This will also encourage employees to help co-workers who may be struggling since they understand how it plays into the big picture.
Constant open communication throughout the company and visual indicators, such as progressive steps to reach an ultimate goal, are great ways to keep everyone aligned in real time.
4. Let serendipitous learning happen. Research has shown that nearly 70 percent of learning happens informally while on the job. Whether it’s from watching others, utilizing various resources or trial by error, this type of serendipitous learning is crucial to employee development.
Encourage this type of development by making employee schedules less rigid and more flexible. Allow time for them to learn their own way and observe the processes that will benefit them. It may be necessary to provide some amount of structure, but keep in mind that employees are more satisfied when they have flexibility in their job conditions.