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Professional development benefits company growth

Updated: 01 Mar 2014
Many employers in Hong Kong are not offering their staff continued professional development, yet this is one strategy to help overcome the skills shortage and retain expertise within an organisation, according to recruiting experts Hays.
“Professional development has many benefits for an organisation; it’s not just about the career progression of individual staff,” says Marc Burrage, Regional Director of Hays in Hong Kong.
“By providing ongoing professional development, an organisation ensures it has the skills and capabilities needed and that all employees are making the best contribution possible. Development also allows an organisation to advance individual employees’ skills in the direction of existing skills and knowledge gaps.
“If you consider the increasing trend of candidates keeping their eye on the jobs market in response to a lack of career development over recent years, then it’s also a proven strategy to aid in staff retention and motivation.”
Hays provides these five tips for any organisation wishing to implement a professional development program for staff:
1.     Identify and track development needs:
Sit down with employees individually to discuss and agree their career development and career goals.  Use performance appraisals, formal and informal discussions and feedback from colleagues and customers to track and review development needs. Know what motivates individual staff. For example, one employee may be motivated by a fast-tracked development program to senior management, but a less ambitious employee could be encouraged to take on more or different responsibilities.
2.     Set clear expectations:
Professional development does not solely involve training. It is as much about an employee’s ability to see a clear path of progress and know exactly what they need to do to achieve it. So clearly set your expectations for each individual’s professional development pathway.
3.     Review progress:
Having a process to track and review development is critical; it is far better to invest in development that is actually required rather than perceived to be so.
4.     Training that works:
Identify the most suitable training. Set clear objectives so that everyone can be involved in measuring the effectiveness.  But remember, training doesn’t always have to be in the classroom. Coaching can be directed to many different scenarios, from correcting poor performance (it is one-to-one which is usually more effective) to improving motivation and encouraging employees to find their own answers.
5.     Mentorships:
Another common development strategy is the use of mentorships. Provided you have appropriate mentors within your organisation, mentorships allow development to be tailored to your own needs. Through mentorships, less experienced employees gain the knowledge of their more experienced colleagues on a one-on-one basis. Given the informal nature of information exchange and the relationship-basis of mentoring, mentorships allow a firm to retain such knowledge as lessons that have been previously learnt, right through to implicit awareness such as why reports are written in a particular way or who to contact in the organisation for particular information. Mentorships also allow your business to retain technical knowledge. In terms of overall productivity, this in itself has obvious consequences. 
Hays, the world’s leading recruiting experts in qualified, professional and skilled people.

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