Why Employers Should Prioritize Personal Development for Employees

Do you have a clear development plan in place for your employees? As a small business, now is a great time to prioritize a personal development plan for your team.

Personal development in the workplace means figuring out what your employees want, setting goals, and connecting them with resources.

When employers prioritize their employee’s personal development, they set up their business for success. Top employers like Google have used this strategy with great success. Here at Small Business BC, it’s an approach our organization takes, too.

Chief Operations Officer Joshua Ludgate said that SBBC’s approach to supporting personal development goals with its team is to come at it with structure and flexibility.

“It starts with conversations. Many conversations. With managers, peers, and leaders to help staff members explore and identify areas of growth that appeal to them individually and professionally. We pair that with, then seeking to find and provide opportunities,” he said.

Why is personal development in the workplace important?

Both employers and employees benefit when personal  development goals are aligned with the company’s and individual’s needs. This leads to greater engagement by empowering staff, something that’s more important now than ever with the prevalence of remote and hybrid work environments.

Your company, at any stage, could benefit from helping employees with personal development goals because the process:

  • Prevents burnout and boredom
  • Leads to better employee retention
  • Creates an upwardly mobile team

How to support employee personal development

Your first step is to work with your employee to identify challenges and opportunities. Knowing your teams’ weaknesses and strengths in competency sets the stage for success. Ask your employees where they are and where they want to be.

A good place to start is to  see if there are any competencies they want to develop. For example, an employee who feels held back because of a fear of public speaking could work on their presentation skills. Other examples could include improving technical abilities, interpersonal skills, time management skills, and seeking formal education.

No matter where you land with your staff, set goals that matter to them, not goals that they think they should achieve.

Creating a personal development plan

Once employees and employers come to an agreement, it’s time to set up a frame work. This can look like a document that will change and adapt over time. Write down your employee’s long term (one to two years) and short term (three to six months) SMART goals, meaning they should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.

“The earlier employees are in their careers, the more important it is to spend time educating, coaching, and training them, not only in their roles but more broadly about the organization, to be proficient in supporting the current state of business so they have the foundation to stand on, and capacity to incorporate and adapt to these changes,” said Ludgate.

Personal development plans can include:

  • Formal learning – ex. training courses, conferences
  • Work-based learning – job shadowing, taking on new projects, mentoring, coaching
  • Self-directed learning – offer tools for employee self-development

Ludgate said at SBBC,  “We encourage taking advantage of career development grants and provide an individual Professional Development fund they can use to further their personal development and professional skills.”

“You should never stop learning and it has never been more apparent that businesses, the economy, and technology are in a constant state of change. The ability to contribute and grow a company as well as an employee is rooted in both of their abilities to endure and adapt to these changes,” said Ludgate.

Where is your business at with supporting employee development? You can learn more about Business Education opportunities to learn more and connect with our team of experts.

Small Business BC is Here to Help

SBBC is a non-profit resource centre for BC-based small businesses. Whatever your idea of success is, we’re here to provide holistic support and resources at every step of the journey. Check out our range of business webinars, on-demand E-Learning Education, our Talk to an Expert Advisories, or browse our business articles.