How a Professional Development Strategy Boosts Recruiting and Retention: HR Unplugged Ep. 5

Professional development might not be the first strategy that comes to mind for boosting recruiting and retention, but it’s growing in popularity. In a recent LinkedIn Global Talent Trends Report, employees listed professional development as the number one way to improve company culture. And with a boost to company culture plus more career growth opportunities, employees are more likely to stay at the company.

Anita Grantham, Head of HR at BambooHR, makes this clear in HR Unplugged episode 5, as she discusses the importance of a professional development strategy and how it can increase retention and improve recruiting efforts.

Watch the full episode, and enjoy all of Anita’s insights on professional development strategy.

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Why Is Professional Development Important?

Employees who get professional development opportunities are at least 15 percent more engaged and 34 percent more likely to stay at their jobs than those who don’t get those opportunities.

“It’s a fascinating time,” says Anita. “We’ve seen a lot of data that proves you have to have professional development to have a great, engaged workforce. And when we look at exit interview data, people leave for opportunities to grow.”

Prioritizing learning and development is also good for the business. Compared to companies that don’t do much with learning and development, organizations with a strong learning culture win across the board:

How Can You Build an Effective Professional Development Strategy for Each Employee?

Anita shared a three-step process to help your team build a professional development strategy that works, even for employees who might not be taking advantage of all the learning opportunities available to them at your organization today.

1. Make sure you have the right job profile.

For each position in your company, make sure you’re hiring not just for what you need today, but for what you’ll need in the next two to four years.

2. Show each team member what success looks like for them.

Get specific and clear on what success for each role looks like, and show each employee what they need to do to succeed.

3. Ask each employee what they want for their career path.

Not all employees aspire to be high achievers. “And that’s okay!” Anita reminds us. Help those who want to achieve more get better at their jobs and increase their skills, and help those who want to do their current jobs do those jobs well, too. “Don’t over-index to learning. Not everyone wants it,” she points out.

What Should Every Business Include in Their Professional Development Strategy?

Anita shares three critical pillars you should include in your professional development strategy, whether you’re building a professional development strategy from the ground up or revising an existing strategy at your business.

  1. A clear vision of the organization
  2. A clear understanding of the talent you need to complete the vision
  3. A plan to build or buy the talent you need

As a business, it’s important to look at your talent and ensure it aligns with your vision as a business. “If you’re serious about your vision, you need the talent that will help you bring that vision into reality,” says Anita.

This is where the discussion about buying talent versus building talent comes into play. Is your business going to grow people with professional development to get the skills you need? Or will you have to buy the talent you need today?

How to Start the Learning Journey

If you’re looking for ways to increase the talent at your organization without expending more resources, consider these tips for low-cost ways to grow people in your organization today.

Pairing employees

Pairing employees offers a low-cost opportunity to grow people into the next job in as little as a few hours a week. Consider pairing a junior member of the team with a more seasoned member of the team for eight hours a week. Slowly give the junior member more responsibility and projects with supervision. Eventually, you’ll grow that employee into the skills you need.

Job rotation

Consider job rotation as another low-cost opportunity for professional development at your business. “I love when everyone on the team knows how to do the other jobs on the team,” says Anita. “You can learn new skills, and you can learn what you don’t want to do, which can often be more valuable. Plus, with this strategy, you have a solid back-up plan for your team.”

Catch up on the last few episodes of HR Unplugged by listening to episode 3 and episode 4. And don’t forget to register for the next HR Unplugged session, so you can join the conversation live!

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Hooray for Learning!