Forward-thinking employers understand the inherent value of investing in their employees. Whether through wellness programs, ongoing training and development, or recognition, business leaders know that supporting their greatest assets can boost retention and satisfaction, and increase long-term profitability.
In particular, small businesses that don’t have enough funds to hire additional full-time employees may want to put a greater emphasis on growing and developing their current workforce. Shifting focus to your existing employees and helping them to advance in their careers will not only improve performance and minimize turnover but could also have a positive impact on your business’ brand image and bottom line—a win-win in any book.
Read on for four ways small business owners can best support their employees and help them progress in their careers to ensure business continuity and success:
- Support Your Employees’ Needs and Aspirations
Some employees already have a general idea of the direction they would like their career to go, but they might not know what they need to achieve their career goals. Others might not understand their potential or may need the support and encouragement of upper level management in order to advance in their roles. A lack of career development opportunities is a leading cause of employee turnover, which is why you must take the time to help your employees envision a clear path to their professional success.
Career development should be a joint effort between employers and their workforce. Take the time to understand the goals and aspirations of your team and help them lay out a career development plan that identifies specific, measurable goals. Each employee’s plan should incorporate a starting point, endpoint, and distinct milestones, as well as the necessary training and steps needed to achieve them.
If your team is working from home for the foreseeable future, you should also take into account any unique accommodations they may need in order to be most successful. For instance, an employee may need support with setting up a home office or require additional means of communication in order to feel engaged in their work.
- Promote a Healthy Work-Life Balance
By promoting a work-life balance, you can boost productivity, increase retention, and improve your overall relationship with your employees. If your business is in an active phase of growth, or your workforce is currently operating remotely, it’s especially important to promote employee wellness to avoid burnout and disengagement. By prioritizing work-life balance, employers can maintain a happier, healthier, and more productive workforce.
You can promote a healthy balance by encouraging workers to take advantage of any employee assistance programs (EAPs) offered at your company. These types of programs are designed to help employees address personal problems, such as mental health issues, financial stress, or other issues that may impact their ability to work effectively. Support may come in the form of financial or legal assistance.
As an employer, it’s your responsibility to ensure your teams have the adequate tools and resources for an optimal working environment, especially when they are working remotely. For some, this may require upgrading their homes to add a dedicated workspace or even moving to more suitable housing to accommodate their budgets and needs. If your company isn’t able to financially support these accommodations, you should provide them with resources like articles on home office tax deductions or information on FHA loans, which could help ease the financial burden of renovating or moving to a more suitable living and working space.
- Prepare Future Leaders
Succession planning involves preparing entry and mid-level employees to eventually take the place of senior leadership. For some small businesses, this may even mean preparing the next business leader to eventually take over the company. These are strategic management decisions that shouldn’t be taken lightly as they can have lasting impacts on the continual growth and success of your business.
In order for your plan to be effective, you must identify skill gaps within your organization and focus on strengthening the management skills of potential candidates. You should also have a strong understanding of the critical positions for your company’s success and work to ensure your employees are ready to fulfil those roles when necessary.
Preparing your employees will take time, which is why you may want to consider enrolling promising candidates and any other employees interested in taking on a managerial role at your company in training programs that are designed to hone in on their management skills and knowledge. Preparing your employees for the next step in their careers keeps them on track with their advancement plans and helps to ensure your company has the internal capabilities to keep driving business forward.
- Consider Different Types of Training Methods
Ongoing training is crucial for keeping your employees agile and resilient. However, each individual learns differently, which is why incorporating several different types of training may be beneficial for your business. To accommodate everyone’s needs, you could offer a variety of learning methods, such as one-on-one mentoring, online courses and certifications, special assignments, hands-on training, or local networking opportunities.
Given the pandemic, eLearning has become a particularly valuable resource for SMBs that are working remotely. While some smaller companies fear the initial cost of incorporating an eLearning program into their training, there are many benefits of leveraging virtual platforms for employee education. For instance, it provides employees with autonomy and allows them to complete learning objectives at their own pace.
It can also be more cost-effective as you end up saving time and energy that you would’ve otherwise put toward planning and paying for in-person training. As an added bonus, eLearning may be offered in the form of self-study or synchronous learning. That means that, regardless of whether your employees prefer live instruction or pre-recorded sessions, there are several different methods of learning virtually that they can benefit from.
Business leaders have a huge stake in the growth and development of their employees. By supporting employee’s career advancement, you can ensure a capable workforce that’s ready to take on any business obstacle.