How Professional Development Prepares Companies for the Future of Work

As job seekers evaluate companies, many are eager to find a job where they can grow over time. 

A quick search for companies known for offering professional development programs will lead to lists on trusted websites such as Glassdoor and Monster. Professional development can take the form of anything from a weekly discussion about an article to participation in major conferences where trends are previewed.

It’s clear that to remain competitive, companies should invest in providing professional development opportunities to employees.

You can use this article to learn how professional development prepares companies to weather the disruptions that define the future of work.

Opportunities to Learn Calm Anxieties About the Future

It’s natural for humans to fear the unknown. That’s why scary movies rely so much on unpredictability–a man in a hockey mask or a pair of identical twins aren’t too scary until they pop up when viewers least expect them.

When employees aren’t sure how changes in their industry might affect them, it’s easier for their imaginations to run wild with worst case scenarios.

By contrast, companies can use professional development to help employees stay informed about trends and disruptions in their industries. When employees see that their company values continuous learning, they will have more confidence that their company can adapt to the future of work.

A simple and inexpensive way to provide this type of professional development opportunity is to hold a regular discussion group where employees can analyze case studies of how other companies handle disruptive changes. Examining the successes (and failures) of other companies can help employees better approach challenges in their own jobs.

Rather than focusing on scary unknowns, employees who have access to professional development opportunities can apply their energy to mastering new concepts that will be essential to the future of work.

Reduce Turnover By Providing Reasons to Stay

At many companies, employees are required to complete at least a few tasks that they find repetitive or less than enjoyable. The reality is that this work still needs to get done, and employers might not always be able to offer a steady stream of unique, challenging, or creative projects.

Even if roles can be redundant, companies that offer professional development give employees a big reason to stay. Instead of leaving in order to master new skills and find new challenges, your company can provide learning opportunities in house.

For example, your company might offer select employees the opportunity to attend local conferences or enroll in online coursework that would otherwise be unavailable to an individual.

Employees who know that they have access to a regular schedule of compelling professional development opportunities will be less tempted to look elsewhere in order to grow their expertise and skills.

By retaining employees who have deep institutional knowledge, companies can prepare for the future of work while still preserving continuity with their brand’s history and values.

Cultivate New Talent In-House

Companies that offer professional development opportunities also have an opportunity to identify and develop talent among current employees.

This can help reduce the expense and time associated with recruiting. Some employees will naturally gravitate toward helping their peers adapt to new best practices or technology, and these employees might be ideal people to promote to coaching or management roles.

Additionally, companies can allow employees to take on small leadership roles by running professional development sessions on their areas of expertise. Providing regular opportunities for employees to engage more deeply with company strategy and processes allows them to sharpen the skills they’ll need for leadership and increased responsibility.

For example, a project manager might be tapped to run a session on how to use new project management software. In addition to teaching and coaching colleagues, the project manager will need to master the strategic reasoning behind adopting new software. Company leaders who observe the presentation can quickly evaluate and identify talent in this way.

Overall, companies can save time and money–and reduce the disruptions brought on by change–by developing an in-house leadership pipeline.

Final Thoughts

No one knows what the future holds, but everyone can study trends and research in order to gain a clearer idea of it.

Companies that offer ongoing professional development opportunities can quell fears, reduce turnover, and develop an internal leadership pipeline that will help them prepare for the disruptions promised by the future of work.

Overall, companies that invest in professional development are actually making an investment in their employees.

About the Author

Michelle Delgado is a content marketer and developer at Clutch, a B2B ratings and reviews firm based in Washington DC. She reports on how technology impacts the future of work.

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