7 Ways to Help Your Employees Grow

A recent LinkedIn survey on employee development told an interesting story about how to retain employees today.

It showed that employees 24 and under are three times more likely to change jobs than Baby Boomers. Additionally, 40 percent of employees said they’d talk to their boss about making a career change if there were additional opportunities for learning and growth within their workplace.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, this same study found that 22 percent of professionals are motivated by opportunities for career growth. This is where you can improve the health of your business.

It’s crucial to find ways to help employees grow without taking too much time away from their core responsibilities. And it’s key that these efforts don’t take a lot of time or money. This post will offer up a few tools and strategies for showing employees that you are invested in their growth and highlight how this can help your business grow.

1. Set Goals

It doesn’t take a lot of time to set quarterly goals for individual performance. Employees who are looking to make the case for their next raise will respond positively to goal setting exercises.

Make sure the goals you set align with individual and team priorities, and tie these team goals to the company as a whole to help give employees a sense of purpose.

2. Offer Them Challenges with Clear Parameters

Look for opportunities to deploy performance metrics and help employees measure their progress against benchmarks.

For example, you may want to challenge your salesperson to close a certain number of deals in the next quarter above their most recent achievement. Or, you may want to track a writer’s word count week-to-week to track the volume of work they’re turning in for publication.

It can be difficult to demonstrate individual growth without tracking some kind of quantitative measure. If you’re not sure what metrics would be the most meaningful, ask your employees. They’ll likely see their work from an angle you hadn’t considered.

3. Provide Opportunities Outside Their Job Description

Look for cross-functional team opportunities to expose them to different sectors of your organization. If there are training or growth opportunities available in different departments, look for ways to make those paths available to interested inside candidates.

These opportunities may also include “soft skills” trainings. Even if a customer service representative has limited opportunities to lead presentations in their current role, the confidence they build at Toastmasters or a public speaking workshop could shape their future.

4. Fund (or Partially Fund) Opportunities

Look at your budget and try to find room to offer some kind of funding for employee training related to their job functions or growth opportunities.

For example, if you have an employee who’s interested in a two-weekend course to jumpstart their learning of a programming language, consider the impact this relatively small investment could have:

  • How is this employee doing? Are they looking for a growth opportunity that fits into their career plans, or are they looking to make a change?
  • Will this training set the employee up for success in their current role or in a different role within the company?
  • If you could offer them $200 to fund the second half of the training, would they be likely to pay for the rest?

The answers to these questions will help you evaluate the impact investing in your employee’s education could have.

If your organization is large and well-established, you may even be able to offer an education reimbursement program, but this isn’t the case for most small and midsize companies. If you’re short on resources, look into partnering with outside institutions (including LinkedIn) to see if they can help you find the right solution.

5. Ask Your Employees What They Need

Periodically survey your employees to make sure they have the tools and resources they need to thrive. Helping employees grow in and out of the workplace may mean making sure they have the right benefits to perform at their peak during the workday.

Financial stress doesn’t go away during business hours and this kind of stress can hurt your employees’ productivity. Make sure your benefits program aligns with employee needs, including their financial needs.

Set your employees up with the tools to weather a financial crisis, and you may find that they have an easier time focusing in the office.

6. Pair Employees with Mentors

If an employee is interested in growing into a leadership role or moving to another area within your organization, find a more senior employee who might be available to mentor them.

Establishing a rapport doesn’t always happen organically. You can help by creating a loose structure for a series of mentoring meetings. It may also help to define a cadence and a period of time to try out the new relationship.

Should you find your senior staff short on time, encourage employees to network and attend local opportunities where they might be able to make the connections they’re looking for.

7. Sow the Seeds of Trust

Build trust within your company by letting employees know how the company is performing against its goals, quarter by quarter. Employees who feel like they’re working as part of a whole will have a stronger sense of purpose and look for opportunities to contribute to the larger organization’s goals.

Sharing quarterly goals and talking about the company’s roadmap may also help employees envision their own futures, whether that’s in their current role or in a new position within the organization.

Communicate That You’re Invested in Your Employees

This may sound obvious, but one of the best ways to help your employees grow is to tell them you’re open to helping them meet their career goals. If you value employee retention and developing deep relationships with your people, let them know.

Clearly communicate your expectations for employees’ relationship to the company, starting in the text of the job description. Reinforce this message every step of the way, from onboarding to weekly check-ins, and you’ll find that your employees stick around to grow with your company.

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