Professional development is an integral part of any successful career. Although additional education and training is not always required once an employee has been hired, continuous growth and learning have many advantages for both employees and employers.
So, what exactly is professional development and how can employees and employers participate?
Whether you’re interested in partaking in professional development personally, or you’re wondering how you can help promote this activity in your business, you’ve come to the right place.
This article will address the following questions:
What is Professional Development?
Professional development refers to additional learning and training that an individual completes on topics and skills related to their career.
While not always required by a business, focusing on professional development can help employees improve and even progress in their careers, further creating and facilitating a supportive and interactive company culture.
In fact, professional development offers several benefits for both employees and employers.
Benefits for Employees
First and foremost, continuous growth helps employees progress in their careers, leading to higher promotion rates, new opportunities and success.
Professional development serves to keep employees up-to-date on the latest trends, strategies and insight in their industry. It helps them develop new skills and improve their current skill set to advance in their career further.
In addition to helping an employee succeed in their field, professional development also allows employees to feel confident in their work, knowing that they have the latest information and most current necessary skills to perform their job.
Learning new skills and information can also frequently inspire employees and give them a newfound sense of enthusiasm for their job, increasing employee morale and productivity.
Benefits for Employers
Helping employees pursue professional development activities also provides an abundance of benefits for business owners as well.
Professional development helps create competent, capable, and qualified employees, meaning the businesses they work for can rely on knowledgeable and confident staff. Skilled employees are also much more effective and efficient at their jobs.
The newfound enthusiasm often experienced by employees given the opportunity to learn new skills and knowledge is also incredibly beneficial to employers in that it typically leads to increased productivity and quality of work.
Additionally, by supporting employees in advancing their careers, a company can show its team members that it values them and sees potential for them to grow. In doing so, trust is built, which also helps boost morale and productivity while decreasing the likelihood of increased employee turnover.
Finally, employees will also bring this new information and skillset back to clients and customers, resulting in increased customer satisfaction and, therefore, increased sales.
Overall, by investing in professional development, employers invest in their most valuable asset – their employees.
Examples of Professional Development
Conferences and Workshops
Conferences and workshops bring together groups of people working and operating within the same field to learn about new information, strategies, and skills in their industry.
They allow employees to learn from industry experts while also enabling them to share their knowledge with others and learn from their peers. In addition to attending a conference or workshop, presenting at one can also be a form of professional development.
In fact, teaching others about the insight and skills you have gained is thought to be one of the best ways to master a topic.
Formal education is another example of professional development.
Employees can improve their skills and knowledge by attending educational facilities and enrolling in programs, university or college courses, or even workshops to gain further insight and expertise in topics related to their field.
Dedicating company resources to subsidize these programs and making them easily accessible to employees demonstrates a clear understanding of the need for remaining current and up to date with best practices while also illustrating to workers that they are valued and have the opportunity to grow within their company.
Joining a Professional Organization
Sitting on a board or committee can also be a form of professional development.
It can help individuals in their pursuit of professional development by allowing them to learn new skills while serving their peers as well as collaborating with fellow board or committee members.
Additionally, this is a great networking opportunity, allowing individuals to meet others in their industry, as well as from other fields.
On the Job Training
Professional development can also take place while workers are on the job.
Management can offer on-the-job growth by providing employees with additional duties, roles and responsibilities, and training from experienced staff or outside resources.
Initiatives such as hosting a lunch and learn, whether it is run solely by staff in-house or bringing in outside experts, can promote a productive, educational experience that does not require as much time and effort as other professional development programs.
Hosting a lunch and learn program is an efficient and effective way to engage your team while encouraging professional development. Find out more in“Lunch and Learn – Hosting Lunch for Advancement and Engagement.”
How to Improve Your Professional Development
Focusing on professional development is one of the best ways to advance and accomplish your career goals and ensure success. There are several ways that individuals can improve their professional development, ensuring they are always learning and growing in regard to their profession.
Examples of strategies for personal, professional development include:
Adopt a Lifelong Learning Strategy
If you want to succeed and grow continually, you’ll need to adopt a complementary view of learning. Enthusiastic learners get more out of their experience and continuously looking for new opportunities to learn.
As a lifelong learner, it’s essential to allocate time for learning and improvement. Taking the time to plan for this type of activity will ensure that you make it a priority.
Evaluate Your Performance
If you’re wondering where to focus your learning efforts to get the most out of improvement opportunities, a great place to start is by reflecting on your past performance.
Examine what you have done and what the outcome was. From there, consider where you could improve.
Another way to determine areas of improvement is to ask others. As a leader, you can ask your employees and colleagues, and as an employee, you can seek feedback from your manager or your fellow peers.
By identifying weaknesses and areas for improvement, you can pursue learning opportunities that will be most beneficial to your career.
Attend or Participate in Formal Education
Individuals can learn and grow by seeking out and attending educational opportunities like conferences, workshops and other training courses. In addition to learning from instructors and speakers, participating as a presenter can also help you master your skills and knowledge.
Teaching others what you know helps you think about the content in new ways by presenting it from a different perspective and explaining it to others, which can help you better understand yourself.
As well, the questions and comments that arise from students can help you determine any potential gaps in the information and insight you have.
Conferences and workshops are also a great place to develop relationships with others in your industry from whom you can learn.
Build Relationships with Others in Your Industry
Developing relationships with professionals in your industry will allow you to learn from others, enhancing your professional development by gaining new perspectives on particular topics and sharing your ideas and receiving feedback.
Outside, impartial sources of information and feedback can be valuable, as they may present you with information you hadn’t considered or shed light on unknown weaknesses, suggesting where you can focus your improvement activities.
Reading is a great way to expand your expertise. Seek out new research, content, and documentation related to your industry.
Consider consuming materials from outside your industry as well. Reading about strategies and information from other fields can help by providing you with new ideas and perspectives.
Not only will this result in increased knowledge, but it may also result in innovative ideas for your industry.
How Employers can Support and Encourage Professional Development
The most effective way for employers to support and encourage their employees to engage in professional development is by creating a culture that stimulates and facilitates learning within their organization.
Management can promote conferences, seminars and other training opportunities by bringing them to their employees’ attention and offering time off for employees to attend events. If possible, management may also consider providing learning opportunities in-house by hiring and bringing in a professional or having a senior member of their team run a training session, lunch and learn, or seminar.
Online training, live or recorded, is also an option and may be preferred in some cases where employees are working remotely or for businesses with multiple locations or offices across the country. In instances like these, it is essential to be conscious of potential time differences and schedule accordingly to ensure that all those interested can participate.
Providing funding for employees to take part in professional development opportunities is a guaranteed method for promoting learning. Employers who are dedicated to supporting professional development will set aside a budget for conferences and seminars each year so that their employees can attend.
With the valuable benefits provided by employee development, this is a no-brainer for organizations able to provide funding.
Professional development refers to the additional learning and training that an individual undertakes to enhance their career. This development is beneficial to both employees and employers.
Employees who engage in professional development are much more likely to be successful in their careers, not to mention more confident in their abilities. For employers, professional development opportunities produce more competent and productive employees. In turn, this results in increased customer satisfaction and profits.
In addition, organizations that promote professional development have a much easier time recruiting and retaining top talent.
Professional development can encompass any form of job-related training or education, including attending conferences and workshops. Each form presents a different means in which employees can engage with experts and peers to discuss and learn more about pertinent topics within their industry from a unique perspective.
As well, employees can work on their professional development at an individual level in several ways. Such approaches may include reflecting on personal areas of improvement, networking, and reading about their field.
Management within companies should adopt a complementary, favourable view of professional development to encourage employees to participate. One such approach would be to provide employees with learning opportunities, either provided by a third-party or within the company.
Funding learning opportunities for employees is also a very effective way to promote learning among employees.
Ultimately, the pros far outweigh any cons regarding facilitating and encouraging professional development, making it entirely a win-win situation that benefits everyone involved.