National Learning Development MonthNational Learning and Development Month presents a perfect opportunity to re-evaluate our developmental track.
September 1st 2021
We know one major pathway to success is education. National Learning and Development Month, held each September, reminds us all of the importance of supporting education and learning at every stage of life.
Remember — it’s not just for kids. Gaining knowledge doesn’t have an expiration date. Education and learning are critical to human progress. Don’t assume others will do the hard work for you. Take the initiative and never stop learning.
This article addresses the benefits of learning and development in the workplace which advance both personal and professional skills of you and your employees.
Development Areas for your Employees
A flexible workplace is a successful workplace. Your employees are your driving force, running all functionalities of the business and creating your workplace culture. A successful business needs to proactively reconfigure themselves in order to adapt to the changing customer and market demands. Having a flexible team of employees supports this endeavor.
Benefits: Your team will be proficient and welcoming to learning new skills. They will be adaptable to changes, versatile, resilient, and responsive to challenges. By encouraging flexibility, your team will be better able to improvise when needed.
How to incorporate:
- Cross-training – Allow employees to be able to function in other roles if needed.
- Involvement in decision-making – Help employees to understand the factors that are involved in company decisions.
- Challenges – Encourage employees to step out their comfort zone.
Rockfish Hint: Make sure to educate your employees in setting boundaries for themselves and their peers. Although flexibility is a revered trait, it should not be misconstrued with an opportunity to be taken advantage of. Make the expectations of your employees clear and communicated. Make sure they understand what “flexibility” means to your business and how they can help to engage flexibility in the workplace.
2. Communication Skills
Effective communication is essential for any and every business. According to the Carnegie Institute of Technology, only 15% of financial success comes from knowledge or technical skills, while the other 85% comes from an individual’s ability to effectively communicate, negotiate, and lead. (Forbes)
Benefits: Communication Skills are the basis of teamwork, collaboration, and interpersonal relations. Communication development will help to build relationships both with customers and colleagues. Public speaking, listening skills, and empathy are all built on when developing your employees’ communication skills.
How to incorporate:
- Frequent meetings – Bring the team together to collaborate. Make sure to encourage open dialogue for all.
- Formal training – Soft-skill training is a great option to develop interpersonal skills.
- Assign group projects – This forces the team to listen to each other and work together to accomplish a task or goal.
- Mentoring – Not only does a mentor allow an employee to observe, but it also provides the opportunity for immediate feedback and subsequent growth.
- Cross-functional workshops – Brings about mutual understanding of tasks and responsibilities which aids in communication development.
Rockfish Hint: Something often forgot about in communication skill development is How to Choose the Right Medium. The medium, ultimately is, the message. For example, if there is a miscommunication or a message that could elicit emotion, a face-to-face communication will have better results than an email.
3. Work Ethic
Emphasizing the values in your workplace is best developed through guidance and encouragement, and, is directly correlated with job satisfaction and productivity.
Benefits: Creation of an accountable, dependable team valuing honesty, integrity, and professionalism. A virtuous team is a dedicated and tactful team, skilled in interpersonal communication, ethical actions and reactions, and conflict resolution.
How to incorporate:
Make it a top priority – Always encourage work ethic and professionalism. Create a safe and fair working environment for all employees in order to support the effort.
- Formal training – Provide ethics training seminars to be clear in expectations around the topic. .
- Mentoring – Model the behavior you want to see more of.
- Self-assessment – Encourage employees to first look at themselves and to always seek improvement.
- Mentoring – Not only does a mentor allow an employee to observe, but it also provides the opportunity for immediate feedback and subsequent growth
Rockfish Hint: There are many categories of workplace ethics. In order to develop your workplace, as a whole, you will need to address each area individually.
- Business ethics – Accountability and Honesty in items like contractual agreements, advertising practices, and product quality
- Employer & Management Ethics – Fairness and impartiality in hiring practices, fair treatment of employees, and development of employee guidelines
- Sexual harassment ethics – any issue stemming from unwanted sexual advances and discrimination based on gender. Every employee should be treated with respect and be free from unwanted or inappropriate advances.
- Diversity ethics – situations related to race, religion, and cultural differences. Respect should be required for every religion, race, gender, sexuality, and culture.
- Environmental Ethics – incorporating values of environmental sustainability into business practices. Involves air, water, noise pollution which could disrupt the surrounding community
Effective leadership skills motivate and ensure the team is performing at or above expectations. It provides the ability to assess problems, manage situations, and provide sensible solutions.
Benefits: Nurturing Leadership increases employee self-confidence, personally, and in areas of management, decision-making, delegation, and problem-solving. As a result, engagement, productivity, and job satisfaction are greatly increased. By continuously grooming employees in leadership skills, the future transition into future leadership roles becomes seamless.
How to incorporate:
- Increase responsibilities – Expand their knowledge and sharpen their skills.
- Mentoring – Coach them and, also, teach them to be coaches.
- Align goals with company mission – Helps the employee to feel ownership and purpose within the company. In turn, they become more motivated to excel within the company.
- Implement job rotation – By putting your employees in unfamiliar roles, you are exposing them to new skills, and therefore, expanding their expertise.
- Formal training – Leadership development can be effectively supported with formal Leadership Training. It can help to bridge the gap between senior management and the front line, as well as, give consistent top-down messaging.
Rockfish Hint: According to the Centre for Creative Leadership, Employee retention is 20 times better at companies that focus on leadership development. The fact of the matter is simple, invest in leadership development for your company.
5. Organizational Skills
A skill set that includes planning, prioritization, and productivity in order to achieve goals and keep the business running smoothly and successfully.
Benefits: An employee who can effectively multi-task, manage time, and prioritize will save their company time and money. They achieve the desired results consistently, even when challenges or delays arise.
How to incorporate:
- Tracking and analyzing time – By understanding how the team currently functions, you can address potential time management concerns
- Delegation – Support smart and strategized delegation to competent and capable team members
- Formal Training – Teach your employees methods of staying organized and managing their time.
Rockfish Hint: Set clear expectations and timelines. Furthermore, ask if the systems you’ve put in place are helping or hurting their ability to stay organized and productive.
According to the LinkedIn Learning 2019 Workplace Learning Report, “creativity is the single-most in-demand skill for companies to cultivate in their employees”.
Benefits: Creative thinking solves complex problems in new ways and is the backbone of bringing a company to the next level. Fostered by curiosity and foresight, creative and critical thinking and conceptualization can be taught and encouraged amongst your team.
How to Incorporate
- Task rotation – A new look at a situation or project often will spark creativity.
- Team brainstorming – in person collaboration gives new and diverse perspectives on a project.
- Suggestion boxes – Helps your team to feel welcome to share ideas when they have them.
- Reward Innovation – Positively acknowledge all creative ideas in order to create a culture where creativity is valued, safe, and motivational.
- Assign Loved Tasks – When a person feels excited about a task, their creativity is automatically sparked.
Rockfish Hint: You can’t force creativity, but you can foster its growth
7. Stress Management
In today’s fast-paced world, stress is, unfortunately, very common in the workplace. According to SHRM, 8 in 10 workers say they are stressed by at least one thing at work.
Benefits: Stress level is inversely correlated to employee happiness and engagement. The less stress they have, the happier and more engaged they are in their work.
How to Incorporate
- Hold a team workshop – Stress Management is a tool that will benefit your employees, and therefore, your company. Workshops are great opportunities for training your team in a short, engaging setting.
- Set clear goals – Clear goals and expectations will help to alleviate stress.
- Encourage stress-relieving activities – Whether it is “at-desk” relaxation exercises, leaving the office for lunch, or getting up and moving around throughout the day, encourage your employees to incorporate what they need during their workday.
Helpful Hint: According to Happify Health, the top five things that employees say make them feel stressed have to do with workplace conditions that managers could probably do something about. Those include lack of opportunity for advancement, too heavy a workload, and unrealistic job expectations.
Continue to Learn and Develop Your Team!
Did you know that workers today would rather have a job that contributes to their personal well-being instead of just improving the bottom line? (Happify) According to Gallup’s State of the American Workplace 2017 report, 53 percent of employees say that having a position that allows greater work-life balance and better personal well-being is “very important” to them.
Here’s a Helpful Hint: Putting a priority on your employee’s personal lives DOES improve the bottom line. By treating employees as people outside of their professions and investing in their personal development, they both increase their happiness in the workforce and their productivity and engagement.
For The Employer
Are you thinking about how you can further develop your team? Start by providing resources to your employees that support personal and professional development. Encouraging personal goals alongside professional goals will bring you the best results. In addition, look into how you can evolve your company’s trainings to the next level.