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8 steps to support your employees’ personal development

June 16, 2023
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As humans, it’s only natural that we’re always striving to improve and grow. No one likes feeling stagnant. The same goes for your employees — they want to feel like they are developing, both personally and professionally, while they work for you. If they don't feel this way? Well, quite frankly, they’re going to leave.

So, how can you support your employees’ personal growth and therefore increase retention?

What is personal development?

Personal development includes leadership training, honing a new skill, or improving on their strengths and weaknesses. In other words, it’s anything that helps your employees grow, whether it’s a personal passion of theirs or a professional competence.

For example, many workers choose to develop skills such as their communication, problem-solving, and leadership skills.

What are the types of personal development?

There are many things you can do to help with employees’ personal development. These can be divided into categories:

Formal learning

This includes external training courses, diplomas, educational qualifications, and conferences.

Work-based learning

For example, shadowing a coworker, taking on new responsibilities, or leading special projects or campaigns.

Self-directed learning

Reading a book or industry documents, delving into an academic textbook, or learning something new through the internet.

Professional activities

Networking, mentoring, or training.

What are the benefits of personal development?

Supporting your employees’ personal development is extremely useful for your business. Not only will they be happier and more loyal — employees who have access to self-development opportunities are 15% more engaged — which will increase your retention rate, but they will also be better employees.

Personal development improves people’s skills and performance, increases productivity, and makes for a more motivated workforce. It also helps your company handle change more efficiently, as well as encourages upward mobility, saving you money and time that would otherwise be spent on recruiting managers.

Further reading: Why is personal development important in the workplace?

A stack of books with glasses on top

How to support your employees’ personal development?

Developing your employees can be done through a variety of ways. We’ve gathered some top tips for creating a fantastic employee personal development plan:

1. Set goals

The first step towards a productive personal development programme is to know what you’re building towards. Setting goals — both long and short term ones — is essential for this. These objectives should combine your employee’s personal passions, your organisation’s needs, and the role’s responsibilities and growth structure. We also recommend adding a timeframe to each goal: which ones are goals for the year, for the quarter, and for the month?

2. Get personal(ised)

It’s the 21st century. Nothing is one-size-fits-all anymore, and nor should it be! And when the number one reason why personal development plans fail is them not being driven by the individual, it’s clear that your programme has to be tailored to your employee. By involving your workforce in their own plans, you’ll immediately be ahead of the curve. If you want to take it further, platforms like Thrive use information gained from cultural surveys and personality assessments to determine the best ways individuals in your organisation learn and their skill gaps, allowing you to truly support their development in the best way possible.

3. Invest time

It’s not enough to build a phenomenal personal development plan — your employees also need time to complete it. Make sure your staff is encouraged to spend time on their development, allowing for about 10% of their time for these efforts. Including a small budget for this purpose could also be beneficial to, for example, purchase a textbook, enrol in a course, or obtain a qualification.

Further readingHow to create an Employee Development Plan (EDP)

4. Promote a culture of learning

Your workforce is full of untapped knowledge. Isn’t it a shame not to share? Successful personal development programmes make the most out of the fresh skills and learnings your employees have mastered, so give your staff ample opportunity to share with learning lunches, presentations, and even a Slack channel for people to dump ideas and thoughts in. Let your workers innovate and don’t be afraid to utilise technology to support your efforts.

5. Focus on feedback

Personal growth is not just about learning new things, but also improving what you’re already doing. Constructive feedback is crucial for this. Ensure your work environment is accepting and open, and encourage consistent feedback (not just at a quarterly catch up!). If someone sees something that can be better — they should say so. At the end of the day, everyone’s goal is to reach the best results. That’s what growth is all about.

6. Go beyond work

If you treat personal development as an exclusively work-related thing, you’re not going to reap the benefits to its fullest potential. First of all, you want to encourage activities that are not necessarily career-based, because they can teach your employees invaluable transferable skills. For example, if one of your employees loves volunteering on weekends, incentivise them to introduce the rest of the team to it and even organise a volunteer day.

But even the job-related skills they learn can help them outside of work. If you approach personal growth from a whole-life perspective rather than through an employment lens, you can inspire employees to be more involved as well as really understand the benefits of your programme.

7. Incorporate growth into catch-ups

If your workplace has regular catch-ups and 1-2-1’s between managers and staff, make sure personal development goals feature in those discussions. This will make sure your employees are on track, but it will also prove your commitment to growth, and inspire workers to take it seriously. More importantly, in case someone is struggling, it will give you the opportunity to support them and their goals before it becomes a source of anxiety.

8. Start a mentorship programme

One of the best ways to both improve leadership skills and help knowledge cascade down your entire workforce is to develop a mentorship programme. This can encourage networking and learning, while improving relationships within the organisation and between managers and employees.

Want to kick off your employee development planning in the right way? Book a demo with us to understand your workforce better.

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