In this new working world where employees work remotely and training happens virtually, the importance of solid upskilling practices has never been greater. Keeping workers learning is likelier to keep them feeling engaged and skilled in their jobs, which are essential pieces to preventing burnout.
Professional development can be challenging for leaders to implement when face-to-face learning and collaboration opportunities are limited, especially if they’re still adjusting to a remote-first environment themselves. Even so, leaders need to develop strategic processes to ensure that workers have the space and the means to learn new skills so that they stay engaged and learning and that they maintain a more positive relationship with their work. After all, 89% of workers leaving their jobs amid the Great Resignation attributed the exit to feeling burnt-out and unsupported, according to a Cengage poll.
So what are intrepid leaders to do? Here are a few strategies to consider for helping employees grow and develop in a remote world:
1. Establish feedback loops
Communication is key, particularly when it comes to coaching and mentoring others professionally. To that end, it’s vital to create effective ways to build avenues through which all parties can share their thoughts and distribute helpful feedback that can serve to coach, develop, and educate employees. Enter the feedback loops.
“The use of feedback loops in remote coaching is akin to any other educational setting and may, in fact, play a more critical role in learning and engagement: The employee obtains instructions, performs an action and then receives feedback,” says Allison Esenkova, managing vice president at Pariveda, a people-first strategic services and information technology consulting company that creates change by creatively solving complex, ambiguous problems with its clients.
Citing that receiving meaningful feedback heightens workers’ likelihood of being engaged at work, she says, “Remove that input, and the individual no longer has a chance to solidify or adjust said action, significantly affecting their development trajectory.”
2. Encourage networking opportunities
With more events moving online and accessible widely, leaders should encourage employees to embrace opportunities to learn from industry leaders and subject matter experts and connect with others doing similar work. One way is to provide workers the time and funds to attend industry events and conferences for insights and training that could help them grow in their roles.
“Virtual networking events and conferences are a great way to provide training for all employees companywide or that is specific to the needs and goals of smaller groups or individual workers,” says technology writer Mark Crawford, adding that “conferences are an effective way for remote employees to gain a lot of knowledge in a short amount of time.”
Attending a conference or other networking event, even virtually, could give employees a boost of energy to help them feel newly engaged and refreshed in their professional lives.
3. Offer educational resources
One successful way to upskill employees and support their professional development is to put together educational resources that will help them grow in their roles. Whether through structured professional development sessions during work hours or by making available training materials for workers to peruse when they find the time, leaders should invest some effort into advancing their teammates’ learning.
“Education is the most important investment employers and managers can make on behalf of their teams,” says Mohana Radhakrishnan, founder of ExpertusONE. “By providing the right tools for career development and advancement in their industries, employers can demonstrate to their teams that they want to facilitate growth.”
This education can come by way of offering practical certification courses on a new technology, personal development courses around “soft skills” like time management and leadership, or providing training resources through a learning management system. Regardless of the delivery method, it’s essential to support employees in taking their skills to the next level.
4. Create (and share) a succession plan
A crucial element to supporting career advancement is looking ahead to the skills workers will need and preparing them now, and that starts with mapping out who will fill your organization’s future leadership roles. That’s where succession planning comes in: Experts advise developing a succession plan for each key role within the company so that employees are better positioned to take over when the time comes.
“Succession planning can demonstrate to high-potential employees that you not only want to invest in their professional development but also see them evolving into future leaders for the business. That is a powerful message,” according to Robert Half Talent Solutions.
Even if your team has moved to working remotely in the short or long term, it remains possible and necessary to make professional development and career advancement top priorities for the business. Take these pages out of experts’ books to ensure that your team feels supported and skilled in their roles, now and in the future.