Lack of professional development is a major source of workplace dissatisfaction. Our Employee Engagement Report found that a mere 25% of employees believe they have enough professional-growth opportunities. And development is linked to employee retention.
But if your organization has a tight budget, this might seem like a difficult need to address. Luckily, professional development doesn’t have to involve hiring a guru who demands a five-figure speaker’s fee. There are plenty of easy, cheap ways to help your employees stay at the cutting edge.
1. Low-cost or free software
Fantastic online resources exist for every field out there. Check out sites like Lynda.com, which includes thousands of tutorials on everything from marketing to graphic design to photography. Another great site is MediaBistro.com, offering inexpensive courses in branding, social media analytics, and much more. These sites are designed by experts and offer solid info your team will benefit from.
Pairing a mentoring program with onboarding is an ideal way to keep newer team members engaged. A veteran employee can pass on institutional knowledge and provide valuable feedback. Conversations with a mentor can provide that additional support that new employees need.
3. Keep a well-stocked company library
Be sure to maintain subscriptions to relevant industry-specific journals and magazine. You could even provide a specific time each week for employees to discuss what they’ve read. Staying current in your field will help build that sense of professional growth.
4. Attend local conferences
While plane flights to conferences hosted at fancy hotels might be outside of your budget, there may be excellent options at the local level. This is a low-cost way to allow your employees to get to know their counterparts and better understand the new challenges in your field.
5. Join professional associations
Chances are there’s a national organization linked to your field. By joining up, you could receive information about developments in your field, have the opportunity to take classes, and get discounts on conferences.
6. In-house sessions
Use the experts you already have. If one of your employees excels at organization or devising creative solutions, have them present to the rest of your team. You could even set aside an hour each week for employees to present on a topic of their choice.
7. Soft skills
Expertise in a particular skill or area of knowledge isn’t the only key to success. Encourage employees to seek out training in communication, interpersonal skills, and stress management. There are plenty of books, online courses, and other materials on the subject — and employees will use these soft skills for the rest of their careers.
While sending an employee to get a master’s degree may be a tad pricey, your city might offer relevant, low-cost adult education classes. It’s also possible that local universities offer discounts for adult learners. These courses exist to help strengthen the community your business is a part of.
Don’t let your employees think that you’re not invested in their careers. You have plenty of opportunities to help them develop as professionals if you get a little creative.