This Insights article was contributed by Laura Gail Lunsford, PhD, Director of the UNCW Swain Center
Investing in professional development can yield big dividends for the individual and the organization.
Skip to the front of the line on developing and investing in high-quality professional development by checking off the items on this cheat sheet to make sure you will have an engaged and talented workforce.
1. Engage And Retain
Your best employees can always get paid more somewhere else. Thoughtful professional development opportunities engage employees and increase their loyalty to the company.
For example, a recent Deloitte report
found that millennials who have mentors are twice as likely to stay at their organization. There are a lot of millennials in the Wilmington workforce.
Do you have formal opportunities for employees to:
- Develop technical skills (project management, business analytics, Six Sigma)?
- Learn managerial essentials (accounting, finance, HR, operations, sales excellence, customer delight)?
- Develop leadership (self-awareness, strategy, leading change)?
- Coach and mentor (develop coaching and mentoring skills)?
If you are lacking in these areas, then consider how you can start conversations to formalize these opportunities. Even small organizations can take advantage of external consultants or university executive education centers.
2. Develop Internal Talent
Promoting employees means you retain their knowledge about your organization and your customers. Organizations typically promote the best performers to be the leaders, yet the best performers may not have the skills to bring out the best in others.
Professional development for talented aspiring managers and leaders will create a pool of talented individuals who are ready to lead when needed. Many organizations an annual performance review process but it is important to look beyond one year when developing talent.
Does your organization:
- Ensure managers ask, at least annually, about employee professional goals in five and 10 years?
- Have transparency in how employees are selected for opportunities?
- Connect professional development back to the job, e.g. managers ask how learning will transfer back to the employee's work?
3. Save Money
Hiring employees is expensive. Estimates are that it costs 1.5 times the salary to bring in a new person. Creating professional development opportunities that support employee growth saves money by keeping them engaged and reducing the time it takes for employees to learn the business – especially when they are promoted.
Does your organization:
- Have a succession management plan that ties to professional development?
- Co-create opportunities for professional development with the employee?
- Survey employees about skills gaps?
4. Plan For The Future
Where does your organization need to be in five years? Ten years? A formal and well-developed universe of professional and executive development requires you think about the company's future.
Recently, New Hanover County developed a new strategic plan. They are really building on that plan by mapping professional development to their strategic goals.
Does your organization map professional development to strategic plans?
If you answered yes to all these questions, then you earn a 100!
Partnering with UNCW (or other universities) can be a cost-effective way to supplement professional education offerings. Check out the Swain Center
for our open enrollment and custom program offerings.
Robert T. Burrus, Jr., Ph.D., is the dean of the Cameron School of Business at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, named in June 2015. Burrus joined the UNCW faculty in 1998. Prior to his current position, Burrus was interim dean, associate dean of undergraduate studies and the chair of the department of economics and finance. Burrus earned a Ph.D. and a master’s degree in economics from the University of Virginia and a bachelor’s degree in mathematical economics from Wake Forest University. The Cameron School of Business has approximately 60 full-time faculty members and 20 administrative and staff members. The AACSB-accredited business school currently enrolls approximately 2,000 undergraduate students in three degree programs and 200 graduate students in four degree programs. The school also houses the prestigious Cameron Executive Network, a group of more than 200 retired and practicing executives that provide one-on-one mentoring for Cameron students. To learn more about the Cameron School of Business, please visit http://csb.uncw.edu/. Questions and comments can be sent to [email protected].