Career development? What career development program?
If that was your response to this article’s headline, you’re not alone. Many organizations have set career development programs on the back burner or never got them off the ground in light of the many challenges they’ve had to overcome during the past 18 months.
Career development programs are vital for attracting and retaining top talent. According to one report, 94% of employees say that career development programs are “very important” and a good reason for staying with a company. And, if you want to attract and retain younger talent to your nonprofit, 87% of millennials rank career development programs as very important to their decision to join and organization.
For those nonprofits who haven’t launched a career development program or who set it aside to cope with the challenges brought about by the pandemic, now is the time to rethink your organization’s training programs with an eye to keeping them going no matter what challenges the new year brings.
What Makes a Good Career Development Program?
Good career development programs share certain characteristics:
- Caters to all levels of the organization: Career development isn’t just for newcomers to the nonprofit world or those just entering the workplace. It’s for everyone. Good career development programs include specific programs for leaders, too.
- Involves virtual training: The new world of work means including your virtual team in training and development opportunities. Technology connects workers to your organization and can connect them to training and development opportunities. Seek out hybrid or virtual models that can be accessed anytime, anywhere.
- Offers mentorships: One of the best ways to enhance career knowledge and skills is to partner with an experienced person in the profession. Mentorship programs provide an excellent opportunity for networking, skill development, and career growth.
- Focus on what employees want to learn: It’s not enough to offer professional development programs in matters that the organization believes employees should learn. Find out what your team wants and needs to advance their career development and find the right programs to suit them.
- Don’t forget fun too: All work and no play make Jack a dull boy, and it makes for a boring workplace. Career development programs should also include time for socializing and networking so that people feel connected to the organization, their teams, and their coworkers.
Focus on Virtual Career Development
Virtual career development opportunities must focus on overcoming the barriers to communication among virtual employees. This can be done through video calls, phone calls, instant messaging, and other technology that aids communication.
One thing to bear in mind when creating and launching virtual career development programs: frequent communication is very important to effectively include everyone on the team. Schedule weekly touch-base calls and consider partnering your virtual team members with experienced employees who can help them grow into their jobs.
Personal, one-to-one time is essential for virtual workers. Many refrain from asking questions in group chats or calls. Having time just with their mentor or manager to ask questions, even if it’s only 15 minutes a week, can help them ask what’s on their minds. These quick touch-base calls can take the place of visits in a physical office space where teammates often drop by an office or desk just to chat and can make people feel better connected to their team members.
Short, Frequent Connections Are Best
Career development isn’t “once and done.” It’s better to provide short, frequent programs than long, occasional ones, especially if using videoconferencing technology. People can become fatigued from too many video conferences. Keeping connections short, focused, and frequent helps keep professional development top of mind, rather than a chore.
When your organization prioritizes career development as part of its approach to personnel management, you can create a desirable workplace with better connections and teamwork. Not only will your employees be happier, but your organization will thrive, with more engaged and connected employees.
Welter Consulting bridges people and technology together for effective solutions for nonprofit organizations. We offer software and services that can help you with your accounting needs. Please contact Welter Consulting at 206-605-3113 for more information.