Deciding to spend more money, or take time away from work productivity, may not seem clever during times of inflation, but investing in workplace development may give your organization the edge you're looking for. Professional development is a valuable undertaking that can increase employee engagement, morale, and performance. If you're thinking about investing in professional development here are some suggestions.

Identify Areas Of Weakness And Opportunity

In the beginning, you may not need to add professional development programs throughout the organization. If teams or individuals are showing signs of lower morale or engagement, weaker performance, or they're expressing a desire to improve in certain areas, pay attention. Check in with managers, individuals, and even new hires, to identify where more energy and investment could be needed. 

Pay Attention To Industry Leaders

Allow yourself to be inspired by what large and established companies are offering their employees. Shopify offers employees a monthly budget for books alone, Amazon covers some employees' education, and Schneider Electric created their own "university" platform of resources about energy efficiency and data. With these ideas in mind, your organization may be inspired to develop relevant learning programs or create small budgets to invest in your workforce. 

Every Little Helps

Professional development does not have to entail a 6-week, all-expenses-paid training retreat. Offering short, convenient "Lunch and Learns" (which could be offered by an existing employee), or allocating 1 hour per week for individual employees to work on skill development during company time can be enough to increase engagement and improvement. Alternatively, a one-day training session can create bonding, a lasting impression, and skill improvement for your team, without spending excessive time or money. These lower-budget options allow employees to grow their skills, without a large financial burden. 

Competitive Compensation

If your organization is ready to leap, establishing ongoing professional development programs can be an effective strategy for attracting and retaining high-achieving employees interested in lifelong learning. Offering individuals yearly or monthly stipends (for books, courses, attending or presenting at conferences, tuition, and further education) can become part of your compensation packages, and could set you apart from the competition. 

After implementing, look back on how your efforts have improved or affected your employees' performance and engagement. Check-in with your team members and leaders through conversations, surveys, and assessments to determine how effective these programs went, and continue to adapt them for the future.