The employee has always been a crucial aspect in conducting business. However, the events over the last few years have emphasized the importance and value of good employees even further. In fact this has happened on such a grand scale that it looks to fundamentally change the dynamic of the professional workforce and their employers for the foreseeable future. This is highlighted best by the current disconnect between the unemployed and the jobs available on the market. Many economists have pointed to this very disparity and used it to paint the working class as unreasonable, lazy, and unwilling to work. The reality, though, is that society is finally catching up to inflation and refusing to take on positions that treat them like subhumans. This is evident in the demands that employees make. Things like fair compensation, reasonable benefits, and safe working environments. Regardless of which side of the line you fall on in this regard, high-quality employees are extremely valuable in the current market.
For organizational leadership, this should bring up questions about how to best support their employees, set them up for success, and nurture both employee development and growth. By prioritizing employees and employee development, organizations see a higher quality staff that is more loyal and more productive.
“In healthcare, research shows that 40%-50% of health outcomes are determined by individual behavior, which means there is only so much we can offer as providers to improve health outcomes. Similarly, it’s time to recognize that policies and protocols only go so far in boosting job performance. The rest comes down to the individual. By investing in our employees — inside and out of the office — we support them in achieving their personal and professional goals, enabling them to bring their best selves to work each and every day.”
– Matthew Loper, CEO and Co-Founder, Wellth –
Delivering Constructive Criticism
When it comes to helping employees develop and grow, constructive criticism is unavoidable. However, how that constructive criticism is delivered can actually be a total game-changer. Constructive criticism is important because it plays a big role in the way that we learn and improve our skills and processes. At the same time, the wrong delivery can come off as harsh and completely demotivating. This is what needs to be avoided amongst organizational leaders and managers.
“Finding the right balance of encouragement and blunt-honesty can sometimes be like walking a tight-rope. You don’t want to sugar-coat things and you need to make sure they understand the mistake, but at the same time you don’t want to make them feel like less of a human or anything. It can definitely take some practice to find that right balance.”
– Lionel Mora, CEO, Neoplants –
One helpful trick in delivering constructive criticism is in identifying what went well before discussing the areas that need improvement. This can reassure the employee that they were, in fact, on the right track, but just need to work on a bit of the fine-tuning.
“I think the employees that are most receptive to constructive criticism are those who are brand new to the industry. They know that they don’t know everything yet, so they’re just willing to learn. I love the energy that they bring, too. It’s contagious”
– Natalia Morozova, Partner, Cohen, Tucker & Ades P.C. –
Create Leadership or Managerial Opportunities
Another great way to help employees grow and develop in the company is to present them with leadership and managerial opportunities. By giving team members a chance to step up to the plate and take a few swings at leadership roles, you can see who shines where, and in what contexts. This can be helpful in delegating tasks in the future, and making sure employees are being assigned tasks that suit their best skills and talents.
“Knowing who excels at what on your team is the magic ingredient in my personal opinion. When you know what your teammates are good at, you can much more easily make use of their collective talents in the context of a work-project. Having an eye for others’ talents is part of being a good leader.”
– Adam Bém, Co-Founder and COO, Victoria VR –
Additionally, by granting employees the chance to take on a leadership or managerial role within the context of a team, a group project, or anything else, organizations can stimulate and encourage employee engagement and job satisfaction.
“I think people want more responsibility than they’re given most of the time. So then, when the opportunity does show up, there’s a little light that turns on inside them. I love seeing the flicker of fire behind one of my team members’ eyes, cause I still remember the first time I felt that way about this job.”
– Chris Gadek, Head of Growth, AdQuick –
Promote From Within
One of the best strategies an organization can deploy in order to demonstrate employee investment is to continually promote from within. Prioritizing promoting from within shows employees that the organizational management and leadership is dedicated to helping employees climb the ladder, grow both personally and professionally, and find true job-fulfillment.
“It certainly isn’t the easiest thing to always do, promote from within, but we do it whenever we can. I think it really shows our people that there’s a lifetime career here if they want it. That’s what we’re after, cultivating an employee experience that people stay with us for their whole careers.”
– Daniel Kroytor, CEO, TailoredPay –
Promoting from within is a great way to keep people around for years and even decades. In a world that is constantly shifting, evolving, and seemingly accelerating, employees want to know that they have a secure future with plenty of growth potential.
“If you get hired somewhere, but then you get promoted and that’s it – well you’re eventually going to leave because there’s no higher for you to go where you are. If you get promoted and then a year later you get another promotion though, and so on, well then – that’s incentive to continue sticking around.
– Michael Burghoffer, CEO, PicoSolutions –
Reimburse Extended Education
Employee growth and development doesn’t only happen on the job, and definitely doesn’t always happen on the clock. Many working professionals decide to pursue either extended or continual education. This could mean going back to school, getting an advanced degree, or even simply completing professional classes in their relevant field. No matter what type of extended education in which your employees are interested, offering some sort of reimbursement policy will go miles in their eyes.
“The thankfulness that exudes from our employees who first learn about extended education reimbursement, it’s an unparalleled feeling. I mean it just warms your heart.”
– Vimla Black Gupta, CEO, Ourself –
Developing some sort of extended education reimbursement policy isn’t just good for the development and growth of employees, either. Having a more informed and more highly-educated staff can elevate your organization as a whole.
“At this point a bachelor’s degree is essentially an overpriced piece of paper. That being said, it can still be nice to have the accreditation. Especially if you haven’t had the opportunity before. That’s why we’re so committed to our employees pursuing extended education if they wish.”
– Susan K. Shaffer, President, Pneuma Nitric Oxide –
Hold Conferences and Professional Workshops
While employees should be encouraged to pursue extended education outside of their working hours, organizations can still offer opportunities to make continual professional development convenient and easy on their staff. For instance, organizations can host professional development workshops or conferences for their staff that are completely optional. These events can feature guest-speakers, presentations, or any other number of professional development tools.
“We host a professional development event for our staff about once a month if we can. Attendance is completely optional, and it’s typically right after lunch. It can be a nice way to end an afternoon, and it seems to promote conversation between our employees.”
– Matas Jakutis, CMO, Forcefield Digital–
Company conferences could even be held over a weekend or a special company work-trip, adding an element of flair and relaxation to the theme of professional development and extended education.
“Every summer we like to plan an optional company trip for our employees. We go somewhere that has plenty of beaches and sunshine and we get a little work in, as well as a little taste of vacation. It seems to really bring our staff together.”
– Patrick Robinson, CEO and Founder, Paskho –
Helping Employees Soar
It is one of the main roles of organizational leadership and management to help promote employee growth and development from within. Using the tactics outlined above, leaders and managers can help employees find job-fulfillment, gain extended education, and grow as both professionals and people.
“One way for businesses to keep employees satisfied and committed is through employee growth and professional development initiatives. Udemy found that 42 percent of employees said that learning and development were the most important benefits when deciding where to work. By taking a proactive approach to your employee growth and professional development strategies, you can mitigate employee turnover and drive more productivity.”
– Christine Soeun Choi, Data Manager, Fit Small Business –