Career progression

3 ways to use technology to support career development

You almost saw it coming. For a little while, one of your best team members hasn’t really been themselves, and you started spotting some warning signs: a few unscheduled absences, a small but noticeable drop in enthusiasm, a non-committal “maybe” when you asked them if they were planning on coming to the office Christmas party.

Receiving two-weeks’ notice from a high performing employee might not be always unexpected but it’s still a little disheartening. Besides the disappointment of losing a trustworthy team member, there’s the dreaded prospect of finding a well-matched replacement in a process that can last several months between finding the right candidate and getting them up to speed. And there’s no guarantee that this process will end in success.

Top of the list of reasons given by employees for leaving their jobs is a lack of career development opportunities: 22% of people jump ship because they can’t see themselves progressing their career within the business, while 87% of millennials consider professional development and career growth prospects some of the most important aspects of company culture.

The numbers speak clearly: if your company wants to improve employee retention rates, they need to make it easier for staff to learn new skills and advance their career without having to look for these opportunities elsewhere. Technology can help you create an effective retention strategy.

You shouldn’t be scared of having ambitious employees. As your own ambition has motivated you to learn and work towards the continuous improvement of your own skills, employees who have ambition (and the talent to back it up) are the key to the success of your own organization. As they say, nothing kills innovation faster than the sentence “That’s how it’s always been done”.

Managing a team of highly skilled, ambitious employees is a great problem to have, but it comes with its own challenges. After all, you know that if these talented go-getters aren’t happy with their position, there are plenty of recruiters out there who can’t wait to jump at the opportunity to present them with other options.

There are some technology-based measures you can take as part of your employee retention strategy to improve the satisfaction of high-performing employees. And while you won’t be able to keep them around forever, with technology on your side you can enable a long and fulfilling professional relationship for both parties.

Empower your remote workers

This becomes particularly challenging when these high-potential employees are not office-based, something that has become common practice in the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic.

Remote working can be a highly beneficial arrangement for both employer and employee at any time, but while some people are genuinely cut out for remote working, the nature of telecommuting makes communication a little harder.

In other words, it might be harder for you to gauge whether your team member is happy in their role, or whether they are becoming restless.

The solution to this problem is to put a little extra effort in keeping the communication channels open. To get to know the people who work for you and with you, you need to meet with them regularly, whether they sit across the room from you, or several states apart.

Use your teleconferencing tools, whether it’s Zoom, Teams or Google Meets, to get in touch with them once a week and try to create a friendly atmosphere so everyone can feel free to discuss ideas, contribute to projects, and share their personal goals and aspirations.

Because it’s harder to connect with remote team members, it’s important that you actively encourage them to be open and communicate by leading by example. Make sure they are involved in all the relevant aspects of the business and that you work together to define clear goals and expectations, including career development milestones.

Deliver great training

An essential component of any employee retention strategy (and of making an organization successful) is staff training. 93% of employees identify job-related training and development opportunities as important factors they consider when deciding whether to stay in their current job.

There is no doubt that providing effective training to your team should be high on your list of priorities if you’re hoping to keep them around in the long run. Once again, this can get trickier if some of your staff are not office-based, but remote access technology can come to the rescue.

Remote access software is a popular tool companies of all sizes adopted to allow staff to remote into their work devices while working from home or to provide IT Support from afar. It can also be incredibly useful when it comes to training people who can’t physically come to office premises. By sharing their screen, instructors can coach and guide their trainees through their exercises, making their sessions as effective and memorable as if they’d been delivered in person.

While we’re talking about employee training, integrating third generation technology can also help to make it particularly engaging. Virtual Reality (VR), for example, can be used to enhance the training experience by providing an accurate and realistic simulation of the trainee’s working environment, making the session one to remember for a long time.

We wrote more on this subject here: four technology tips for successful employee training.

Give your employees the tools they need to succeed

And by tools, we mean actual tools: encourage your team to try new technology to improve their skills and expertise so they’ll be able to not only excel at their current role, but at other roles that may become available.

By allowing them to experiment and learn using the latest technology developed in your industry, you’re not just helping your high-performers further their career, you’re developing their mental agility, a skill closely linked to the success of both individuals and organizations.

 This practice also contributes to keeping your employees’ jobs varied and dynamic and fights the feeling of stagnation that comes from the day-to-day repetition of tasks and processes, especially if you’re working for a smaller company where rotation isn’t really feasible.

It’s true that nobody is irreplaceable, but some employees are more replaceable than others. And while some staff turnover is bound to happen, there are a few things you can do to prolong their tenure with your company by making their stay as fulfilling as possible.

The first is totally up to you: be a truly supportive boss, and care about your team members as people. Employees who know they matter to the person they work for are more engaged, less absent, and more willing to share information with the rest of the team.

Once you make it your mission to help them succeed for their own good and the good of your organization, look around for technology which can help you define and fulfill their career development plan. It could be the beginning of a very exciting journey.

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