Encourage your employees to seek professional development opportunities

Open notebook at a professional development seminar

Your employees come into work every day, and they work hard for your organization and clients. Getting into that routine can be productive, but those comfortable rhythms also can suppress that all-important curiosity.  In other words, it can lose your yearning for learning. Encouraging and supporting your employees’ professional development efforts shouldn’t just be an employee benefit – it should be engrained in your company culture.

According to Gallup, 87 percent of Millennials say professional development or career growth opportunities are very important to them. Pit that against data from EdAssist which found that only 26 percent of Millennials felt their employers are actually invested in their professional development, and we can start to see a gap between senior leadership and the newest fleet of workers.

In the Wall Street Journal’s guide for employee retention for small businesses, supporting professional development is one of the key things you can do to enhance retention. EdAssist found that 53 percent of Millennials say learning new things or having access to development opportunities would make them stay at their current job — strengthening the case to support employee growth. So the point is clear: if you value your employees and want them to stay, respect and nurture the value they place on continual learning.

Even if you don’t have deep pockets to support expensive professional development opportunities like conferences or advanced degrees, there are plenty of ways to encourage your employees to get out of their bubbles and learn something new.

  • Allow your employees to spend time during the workday on professional development.
  • Make sure they take advantage of memberships they already belong in. AMA and PRSA both offer online webinars (some are even free!) to help support ongoing learning.
  • Look to your vendors and other services for free or cheap educational opportunities: Facebook/Instagram offer webinars, Google offers training and certifications – the options are limitless.

Here at Hodges, professional development is a mainstay in our work lives. Many of us serve on boards like PRSA Richmond, AMA Richmond, Massey Cancer Center, Boys and Girls Club of Metro Richmond, AdClub, Classical Revolution RVA and more. In addition to those professional growth opportunities, many of us attend workshops, webinars, lunch-and-learns and networking events to gain even more knowledge we can bring back to our work at the agency. Having the opportunity and the encouragement to seek out and participate in these opportunities not only enriches us as professionals, but it helps to support the overall mission of Hodges in serving its clients (thanks Jon and Josh)!

Casey Prentice

A self-proclaimed organizational junkie and data geek who confesses to a secret desire to be a professional organizer, Casey enjoys account management, writing, editing and digital content strategy. Her agency work has helped clients like Virginia’s Community Colleges, VCUarts and Swedish Match.

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