How to Support Employee Growth and Professional Development

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A competent and reliable employee shouldn’t get stuck on the corporate ladder. Sadly, they find themselves in this situation often. Many millennials and Gen Zs quit their jobs a year or so into employment. And instead of uplifting advice, their bosses call them entitled.

But are millennials and Gen Zs really entitled, or are they just seeking professional development?

Survey findings lean on the latter. In ManpowerGroup’s 2020 Vision Survey, it was found that 39% of millennials in Singapore expect to work past the age of 65, 22% past 70, and 14% until they can no longer work. In other words, their generation doesn’t necessarily think that “they’re too cool” for the corporate world.

Gen Zs are the leading generation that “ghosts” job offers. Employers find the behaviour disrespectful, but it turns out that Gen Zs have a quite understandable reason for ghosting. Given their age, they’re most likely financially dependent yet, so they aren’t pressured to land a job.

In addition, workers across generations, including millennials and Gen Zs, are abandoning traditional career paths. So even if you have a good offer but your candidate has found a better opportunity from another company, they’re going to drop you.

So the key to retaining your employees’ talents, regardless of their age, is sustaining their growth and professional development. And here are ways to do just that:

1. Include Working Students in Your Team

Many people at the working age still want to continue their studies but have to work to finance their education. In Singapore, employees who wish to do this can enrol in diploma courses, a work-study programme that can be fully sponsored.

Under this programme, students can focus on both their jobs and their studies. As such, they will earn a monthly salary and be entitled to employee benefits. This is a brilliant way to support their professional development because student-employees are more eager to learn and grow as long as you offer them what they need to do that.

Also, give your student-employees proper training. If they are already experienced employees, you can tone down their training, but young and inexperienced employees will need substantial supervision before becoming independent. Luckily, the work-study programme offers students training from experts and practitioners. Your student-employee can expand their knowledge and gain job experience at the same time.

2. Discourage Working Overtime

In many cultures, putting in more work than necessary is seen as a commendable trait. But this only decreases an employee’s well-being and doesn’t result in higher productivity. In fact, the ManpowerGroup survey also revealed that millennials are working too long—48 hours per week on average.

That’s way more than the ideal working hours a human being should clock in. According to a study, the optimal daily work hours should just be 7.6 or 38 hours per week.

So if you want to retain talent and maintain high productivity levels, try to aim for shorter working hours. Encourage everyone to leave the office on time. Sure, rendering more hours can be unavoidable at times. But that’s the point; it shouldn’t often happen.

employee meeting

3. Have an Active Personal Development Program

Developing employees doesn’t always require seminars and other corporate events. The simple act of getting to know each of them already gives you a head start on mapping out their growth. In addition, forming a personal relationship with your team allows you to discover what they want to do outside of their normal job scope. For example, if an employee from finance is also interested in public relations, take them to industry events wherein your company participates. That way, you can introduce them to other business leaders and expand their network.

If your employees’ interests are outside of their jobs, don’t take that against them. Encourage them to pursue them instead. Staff performance and loyalty increase when employees feel supported in their personal pursuits and goals.

4. Ditch the Formality

Growth and development can happen in your office’s break room. Employees don’t need to undergo formal classroom training to achieve that. As long as you make their career advancement the daily agenda, you can find growth opportunities anytime and anywhere. For example, if your employees share a common interest, start a club centred around that interest, and talk about different topics related to it. You can also create a group chat to encourage everyone to socialize. Interpersonal skills are essential in professional development, too.

Using these strategies in your employee support plans, you can expect a lower turnover rate, a happier workplace, and peak productivity levels. And it didn’t even cost you money. Investing in your employees doesn’t necessarily require raising their pay. Often, it’s seeing them as a person more than their job title.

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