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Why You Need to Encourage Your Employees' Personal Development Goals

In recent years, employment has evolved in ways your parent and grandparents couldn’t have imagined. The era of ‘Lifetime Service Awards’ and 25+ year employees has faded, leaving employers and employees to establish a new normal: the constantly evolving workplace.
Within the last two decades, employers have shifted the responsibility for career development onto the employee. As a result, ‘personal development’ has become a buzzword that most people use to describe their continued education and career path. While there are benefits to learning for learning’s sake, personal development can support an organization in ways you may not have considered.
Supports the organization’s strategy
The direction and strategy of a company may change over time. Empowering employees to take ownership of their own development allows them to prepare for the new direction of the company. If a company is heading in a direction that requires a new skill-set or opens new opportunities, employees are able to align with those goals by learning the new skills needed.
Fills opportunities within the organization.
Often, opportunities for growth occur at various levels in an organization. An employee who has taken advantage of personal development opportunities is prepared to step into these vacancies and has a broader understanding of the organization. By encouraging personal development, an organization is preparing for the future, and developing an internal workforce that can handle any needs the company may have.
Allows employees to manage their own careers
The workforce of today is a steady stream of shifting and changing, with employees moving from opportunity to opportunity. Research shows, however, that it is worth the time and effort of a company to retain employees, rather than seeking new hires.
When there are options within an organization, most employees would choose to stay, rather than seek employment elsewhere. Personal development allows employees to expand their knowledge base, update their skills and take control over their own career.
Improves employee engagement
Richard Branson once remarked, “Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don't want to.” One of the most difficult tasks for employers is developing employees.
An on-going process of staff training and development can be time-consuming and expensive. Instead of managing every aspect of corporate development, adopt policies that support and encourage personal development. It will promote employee engagement and remove the need for complete company oversight.
How can you encourage personal development?
Lead by example
By modeling the behaviour, employees will see the value that you as a leader, and the company in general, place on personal development. It sends the message that development is an integral part of the company’s culture and is expected behaviour for employees. Talk about the development building activities you’re involved in. Discuss ideas and methods you’ve been learning and encourage others within your organization to do the same.
Be flexible
Allow employees to alter their work schedule to accommodate their development activities. Encourage participation by offering paid time to attend trainings.
Provide resources.
Set aside budget to support personal development efforts by your employees. Offer reimbursement, allow employee work hours to be used for development activities and provide information about available opportunities. Host on-site development opportunities, such as Lunch and Learn programs, evening workshops or half-day seminars and allow interested employees to attend.
Encouraging personal development is an effective way to support an organization’s strategy. Enhance your employee engagement efforts by putting personal development at the front of your plan, and initiate a plan to help employees manage their own career success.

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