Your employees do so much to help your small business run efficiently. They are the cogs in your company’s machine, the people who do the heavy lifting to help you succeed. As valuable as they are to you, don’t you want to give them more opportunities to expand their knowledge and grow in the industry? Of course you do. What are some ways that you can offer professional development to your employees?

Help With Education Expenses

Education opens doors for everyone. Helping to fund all or a portion of employees’ secondary education can be a great work perk, but can also help your staff to grow personally and professionally. Many large corporations are offering full-ride educational programs, although there are stipulations to know about ahead of time before signing up for them.

If your staff is small and intimate enough that you can afford to do it, think about offering educational assistance. This doesn’t have to mean a traditional four-year degree, it can mean things like professional certifications as well. Programs such as obtaining an online project management certification can be a cost-effective way to further staff education, but also to help them work around their busy schedules as well.

Send Employees to Training Courses

If full-fledged college classes are out of your budget, think about other courses that might be beneficial for your staff to know. Most community colleges offer adult enrichment classes that can help them succeed in the professional world. These might include classes such as:

  • Basic adult education like reading, composition and math skills
  • Computer software overviews such as the Microsoft Office suite
  • Public speaking classes

Although these courses are not the same as a professional certification or college degree, they can be highly effective: Your employees gain confidence and learn new skills, which can help them to be more efficient in their daily jobs.

Hire a Consultant

If the word “consultant” sends you into instant flashbacks of the Bobs from Office Space, retrain your brain. Consultants are not always snakes in the grass looking for fresh meat to strike; more often than not, consultants are nothing more than professionals in a certain field who are particularly knowledgeable in their area of expertise. Companies bring them in to help teach and retrain employees so that the business runs more smoothly.

Consultants might observe your business for a bit and take notes on how things are done. After the designated time has passed and they have been able to conduct enough research, they suggest areas of improvement and show you routes to take so that you can make those improvements. This doesn’t always mean that you need to fire all your staff and hire a fresh one by any means, so don’t get scared! All it means is that you might need to change certain processes and maybe reconsider the way things are done here and there.

Remember, all final decisions are yours to make. An expert might know from experience how things tend to work best, but they don’t know the heart and soul that is your business. You and any hired consultants need to work together, and if at any time you don’t feel comfortable with their advice or feel that they are overly pushy, then it’s your call whether or not to continue business with them — just remember to read any contracts that you’ve signed before terminating services early.

Host a Team-Building Retreat

Sometimes when you’re out of your element and in a fresh environment, you see things with a different pair of eyes. This is the case sometimes at work too, so it’s refreshing to get everyone out of the workplace from time to time. Have you ever thought about hosting a team-building retreat?

Whether you want to go camping over the weekend or put everyone up at a hotel for a night or two, retreats can be a great way to strengthen your staff. You can do any number of exercises to tighten bonds and bring everyone together, but often the sense of unity is brought on simply by being away from the familiar. Bring everyone together for a couple of days and watch your team come out stronger for it on the other end.

When you see your staff for eight hours every day and you build relationships with them over time, their personal and professional growth is something that you take seriously. Think of creative ways to help your employees grow and flourish not only as workers, but as human beings and individuals.

Author:  Finnegan Pierson