This article was updated on Aug. 30, 2018.
Recruitment. Retention. Leadership succession planning. If you're struggling with any of these common HR leadership challenges, it could be time to revisit your employee development program. Broadly defined, development can involve leadership training, continuing education, mentorship and any and all ways organizations foster employee growth and knowledge. While it can be easy to let a well-established program run on momentum, an improved and optimized program can be a serious boon to success because it is the type of asset that enhances not just recruitment and retention, but engagement and productivity as well.
Here is a review of why an up-to-date program matters, signs your program might have gotten stale and how often to review your development options.
Why Up-to-Date Development Options Are Crucial
In the age of disruption, technology workers aren't the only ones who need to worry about changing skill sets and markets. As the Harvard Business Review (HBR) reports, the very nature of professional knowledge has changed drastically. The article explains that "it used to be that what you learned was valuable for years, but now, knowledge and skills can become obsolete within months." Many employees fear becoming obsolete. Additionally, development offerings matter immensely to your current and future employees, with 82 percent of employees feeling positive about being able to use "tech to learn anything, anytime, anywhere," according to the ADP Research Institute® report The Evolution of Work: The Changing Nature of the Global Workforce.
So in a fast-paced and ever-changing business world, HR leaders can't put their development offerings on the back burner and expect their employees to still feel secure in their roles. So by constantly refreshing, refining and improving your employee development programs — in response to benchmarking data on your workforce's goals aligned with business strategy — you can kill two birds with one stone, improving your workforce's productivity and keeping that workforce comfortable and motivated with opportunities for growth.
Here are three indicators that it's time to reset your employee development offerings:
1. It's Not Centralized
Is your mentoring program managed on an individual basis, while compliance training is offered through your intranet? If your development resources are scattered across several technical and non-technical platforms, you're probably working much harder than necessary to manage your offerings. Your employees may also not be engaged because they're simply unaware of all the resources that are already available to them.
2. It's Not Meeting Your Employees' Needs
With five different generations in the workforce, a one-size-fits-all approach to learning won't meet everyone's needs. While classroom training may have been an effective approach for baby boomers, it won't necessarily accommodate the more digitally oriented generations. HR leaders must account for their employees' diversity, generational differences and learning styles when planning an inclusive approach to development.
3. It's Not Engaging Management
If your leadership isn't able to take an active role in encouraging their teams to map development activities to their goals, you could face a disconnect between individual development plans and learning activities. If your development programs lack competency-based learning paths, or the ability to align learning with roles, you may struggle to keep management engaged with your development offerings. But by offering integrated solutions that encompass both development and human capital management, you can empower your leadership to oversee learning and development without feeling overburdened with their other responsibilities.
Employee development isn't one of those projects that can be set aside and worked on when you've solved your talent gap or fixed your engagement issues. An employee development program should be maintained and updated on an ongoing basis and can be a major component of a satisfied and motivated workforce.