On average, people will spend a total of 13 years of their life at work. With such a significant amount of time dedicated to being ‘on the job’, employers should be working to develop and nurture their workers, as opposed to simply managing them.
Though time restraints and other tasks factor into how much time you can spend day to day with your employees, taking those few extra minutes to show that you care, rather than just assigning a task and leaving them to it, can go a long way. The truth is, people leave managers and supervisors more often than they leave companies or jobs.
Employee development is a long-term goal but one that produces results in a short amount of time. By working with your employees, you will be able to see immediate, positive results. By speaking to people from a variety of different industries and roles, we were able to gain some valuable insights into how developing employees ultimately helps everyone.
Development = Retention
The hiring and training process for new workers can be timely and costly for businesses, so employers want to cut down on time spent here as much as possible. This is where employee development comes in. By taking the time to invest in workers, instead of having a ‘set and forget’ approach, you build more meaningful and lasting relationships- and this encourages workers to stay.
Jayne Bachelor, Learning and Development Manager at ELMO, agrees with this sentiment. “Research shows that employees who feel supported and have high job satisfaction levels are more likely to stay. This support can come from training, coaching, mentoring and peer support.”
“Those provided with ongoing development and opportunities for advancement, both up and sideways, feel valued by the business. Creating this environment, where employees are valued and feel empowered in their role, promotes retention.”
94% of employees said that they were more likely to stay in a role if the company were to invest in their development. Luckily, there are many ways to develop an employee. To begin with, you can focus on an individual’s personal development and invest in their emotional wellbeing, soft skills and physical health. You can also dedicate time to fostering intellectual growth, through professional training and learning initiatives.
“Creating a learning culture promotes continuous learning to update existing skills and stay on top of industry trends. These developments aid employees by teaching them to adapt and respond in an agile environment,” says Bachelor. “At ELMO we are working on a series of staff engagement strategies that provide ongoing development and clear paths for advancement.”
Relationship between Culture and Development
A particularly effective method of developing employees is ensuring a positive team culture. This benefits all employees as it creates an environment of engaged workers and helps build relationships. Culture plays a critical role in how teams perform and when teams work together more efficiently, there are many more opportunities for development.
Nicholas Himonas, Senior Consultant at EY, believes micro-cultures are the key to developing stronger overall cultures of a workplace. “When it comes to microcultures, the development needs to be owned and driven by the team. Microculture teams share commonalities with the majority culture, and also naturally have a separate shared grouping that can define them. The role of a manager is not to define it or bound it, but to reinforce it and enable it.” This, in turn, allows for an environment where managers understand the needs of their workers and can better develop individuals and areas of work.
“My project team shares similar experiences, skills, and traits.”, says Himonas. “We work together for extended periods of time and develop a shared appreciation of work challenges and practices. In essence, my project team develops its own microculture. We develop a shared language and understanding – the microculture enables us to form group norms and ways of working that reflect the common values and experiences of the team.”
The benefit of cultivating a culture that sees everyone working together on the same level is that when anyone needs assistance with something, everyone comes together to support and develop them where they need it.
Start at the beginning
Developing your employees can be done at any time but like most things, it’s best to start at the beginning. Fostering growth from the start of someone’s career is the best way to ensure good habits and set them up for a successful career in their field. Graduate programs are a great example of this as they take people just starting out and coach them through the industry.
Telstra is one such company that has a well-established graduate program to help those just starting out. Ankita Suryavanshi is a part of the Telstra Graduate Program and has found her experience to be rewarding in a number of ways. “The best thing about Telstra is the people that are around you – every single person is extremely nice and always ready to help you – especially as a grad. That was honestly the biggest thing that got me through my graduate experience – no matter who I asked, they always had time for me and always answered my questions. Even today, I am still in touch with those people because we’ve ended up becoming really good friends.”
On average, 94% of the 2018 cohort of grads continued working for the company that hired them. This level of retention is clear proof that the time and attention given to developing graduates truly benefits everyone in the long term.
By creating a workplace that is dedicated to developing over managing, at every stage, you will see a positive change in many areas of business. For more insights into developing and retaining employees, why not check out our other publication Ten Ways to Keep Valued Employees.