What Business Leaders Can Offer to Retain and Develop Their Employees

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Employees are interested in professional development and organizations want to hire and develop employees who can take on leadership roles. But where is the disconnect? What must organizations do to move up the corporate ladder?

Here are some specific steps employers can take to grow their leadership pipeline while providing demonstrated opportunities to increase employee engagement, productivity, and longevity.

A look at research

According to Gartner Researchmore than half of employees indicate that it is important for their employer to offer real opportunities for personal growth.

Employers also benefit. the Association for Talent Development (ATD) indicates that when organizations provide comprehensive training, they realize a 24% higher profit margin than those that spend less time on training and development activities.

These efforts can also help create the kind of diversity in the leadership ranks that so many companies – and their customers and employees – enjoy today.

Related: Employees Now Have the Upper Hand: How Should Companies Respond?

Positive impact on diversity

Being proactive in finding ways to lay the foundation for employee development and growth can go a long way to addressing the lack of diversity in leadership positions. This is true right down to board seats.

It is well known that the leadership pipeline can be a limiting factor to the upward growth rate if that pipeline is mostly populated by traditional stereotypes. And yet, in many organizations, this continues to be the case. It’s not necessarily because of anything these organizations have deliberately done to exclude people from diverse backgrounds, but rather because of what many have failed to do — taking proactive steps to ensure that typically underrepresented employee groups receive the training, development and coaching support to move into higher-level roles.

Here are some ways organizations can invest to move up the corporate ladder while paving the way for greater leadership diversity.

Helping managers develop their coaching skills

Don’t assume that your managers are all adept and comfortable mentoring employees and helping them grow and develop into higher-level positions. Many are not. But you can help provide the tools, training and resources to help them play this very important role.

As part of this training, teach managers how to work with employees to develop personal development plans (PDPs) as part of the performance management process.

Encourage both upskilling and retraining

Not all employees will be interested in moving up the proverbial ladder. And, let’s face it, most organizations have very limited opportunities for employees who might be interested in moving into higher-level positions. That doesn’t mean, however, that they can’t or shouldn’t seek out opportunities to learn new skills that could prepare them for other side or even lower-level positions within your organization.

In today’s fast-paced and ever-changing environment, the need for new skills is evident in organizations of all kinds. Upgrading skills can be as valuable in meeting the employee development needs of some employees as it is in preparing them to move into other roles.

Many companies already know this. In reality, LinkedIn’s 2021 Workforce Learning Report reported that 59% of respondents say upskilling and retraining initiatives were their top priority in 2021.

Related: Six Ways to Make Your Employees Learn on the Job

Provide leadership opportunities

Leadership opportunities don’t have to be limited to those that involve supervising or managing other people. The ability to lead a committee, task force, or project team can provide a valuable leadership opportunity for employees while providing a way to assess employee skills and their potential to serve in more formal leadership roles.

Develop a role for career development coaches

Managers and supervisors aren’t the only members of your staff who can play a role in supporting employees in their career choices and preparing for new roles. Your HR managers and staff members can also play a role here, as can learning and development staff. In fact, having dedicated, go-to career coaches on staff can provide valuable resources to employees and managers.

Serving in this role can provide an excellent professional development opportunity for employees, helping them develop a key management skill that, as we have seen, is often lacking.

Offer tuition and certification reimbursement

If you are not already doing so, consider offering tuition and certification reimbursement to allow employees to take college courses or other training programs that may be of interest to them. Organizations can earn fiscal advantages to offer a refund, which makes it a win-win in more ways than one.

As employees develop their skills, they become more valuable to their employers. It’s an investment that can pay off in multiple ways, including allowing employees to grow in their current roles.

These are just a few of the most effective ways to help your employees climb the corporate ladder, if that’s what they want to do. And even if they don’t, providing support and resources to help them develop the personal and professional skills they want can pay off big – for them and for you.

Related: Creating an equitable workforce to inspire future generations

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