07 Dec How to Professionally Develop on a Budget
How to Professionally Develop on a Budget
You’ve got a team full of superstars. They have the necessary skills, positive attitudes, and a team focus. Now, it’s your job to keep them happy and engaged, which includes maximizing their potential through professional development.
Athletes never stop training, and neither should business professionals. Continued employee training can have such an impact on your company’s success, so it shouldn’t be overlooked due to perceived time and money restraints. In fact, learning can stretch an employees’ area of expertise, encourage innovative thinking, and help them find ways to accomplish tasks more efficiently — things that can actually help save time and money in the long run.
But, alas, there is a little thing called a budget. If you’re not able to send employees to out-of-town conferences or pay for MBA courses, you can still offer a number of affordable learning opportunities — some of which can be completed from within the company office space.
Professional Development on a Budget #1
A number of highly regarded sites offer free or inexpensive training courses on a wide array of topics, which learners can tackle on their own schedule:
- Khan Academy has free classes on computer programming, economics, finance, math, art history, and even interviews with entrepreneurs.
- Udemy offers courses in graphic design, marketing, personal development, IT, business, and more, with most courses priced between $39 and $299.
- Lynda.com has single memberships for about $30 per month, or you can opt for a group membership plan — all options include unlimited access to the site’s 4,000+ courses, which cover many disciplines.
Professional Development on a Budget #2
Pairing an experienced worker with a new employee or someone just starting out in their field can be a great way to share company-specific skills. People on both sides of the relationship can reap the benefits of mentoring, including becoming closer as a team as well as learning to give and receive honest advice and feedback.
Professional Development on a Budget #3
Having employees teach each other how to do parts of their jobs allows others to explore new areas of interest. It also makes your company stronger and more resilient. If someone goes on vacation or has to be out of the office for a number of days, another person can more easily step in to fill the temporary gap if cross-training has been implemented.
Professional Development on a Budget #4
Local colleges, libraries, community centers, and other organizations in your area most likely offer a variety of classes in personal and professional development. Many of these continuing education courses come with a very affordable price tag and are typically offered during the evenings or on weekends.
Professional Development on a Budget #5
Who doesn’t like a team lunch once in a while? Once a month, have employees bring their lunches into a conference room to listen to a presentation. You can invite guest speakers or have each team member take a turn being the presenter, informing the others on department responsibilities, current obstacles, or recent successes. As time goes on, employees will have a more holistic view of the company as well as an understanding of the importance of their contributions.
Now that you’ve discovered a number of affordable professional development options for your team, you’ll need to consider how much money you’re willing to allocate toward such development, as well as how much company time can be spend on such endeavors.
Many entrepreneurs have found that a one-size-fits-all approach just doesn’t work. People have varying interests, schedules, and preferred ways of learning, so it can be important to offer flexibility and options. Mark Lurie or Lofty.com goes so far as to say that even giving people a budget to spend themselves hasn’t been very successful for him. It’s only when he did that and set a monthly team meeting in which people shared their individual learning initiatives did everyone respond positively to professional development opportunities.
As for allotting time, you could approach it in a number of ways. You could give everyone the same amount of hours per week to spend on professional development. Or, you could treat it as a benefit that accrues, much like vacation days. You could also allot time on a case-by-case basis.
Whichever way you choose to implement continued learning in the workplace, know that you’re doing a service to your employees and your company by offering these opportunities.