Why Leaders Must Embrace and Commit to Employee Growth

by Granville Triumph

Successful organizations must be able to quickly and effectively adapt to market conditions, improve their products, services and business processes, and better serve their customers. An organization’s ability to evolve is essential to business growth. In order for organizations to have this kind of agility, they need to invest in the growth of their employees.

In other words, employee growth enables organizational growth.

If employees feel as if company leadership has a stake in their personal and professional growth, employees will be much more satisfied, engaged and motivated to contribute to the growth of the organization. In fact, a new study from BambooHR shows that three-quarters of respondents want on-the-job training so they can get up to speed and contribute more quickly. On the other hand, less than 1 percent place any importance on trivial perks such as free food.

The vast majority of employees want to be valuable contributors. It’s up to employers to invest in the tools and training to maximize those contributions and create a culture that is conducive to growth. This investment has tangible business benefits for the organization, including higher profitability, improved productivity and customer satisfaction, the ability to recruit the most highly qualified individuals, fewer missed days, and low employee turnover.

Employee growth can be broken down into three categories – career and financial growth, professional growth and personal growth. The most talented individuals are often motivated by more important job titles and responsibilities that lead to higher compensation and respect inside and outside of the organization. Generally, these employees prefer to advance their career with the same company.

Employees value professional growth resulting from having the opportunity to expand their skill set and knowledge, which makes both the organization and the employee more marketable. From a personal standpoint, employees value friendships and camaraderie in the workplace. Creating a supportive, enjoyable work environment is an often overlooked component of employee growth.

Fostering employee growth begins with authenticity and clarity. Halfhearted efforts perceived as less than genuine can have a harsh, long-term backlash. Employees understand that growth initiatives are launched with business benefits in mind, but they need to know you have their best interests in mind, too. In order to get employee buy-in, you need to clearly convey the goals both for the organization and the employees, how you expect to achieve those goals, and how all parties will benefit.

Leaders can also foster growth by providing valuable feedback and inviting feedback from employees. Just like an employee can learn from your unique perspective, the organization can benefit from employees who share ideas for improving how the company operates. Employee growth isn’t just about the big picture. Day-to-day job functions and interactions with both co-workers and customers present opportunities to grow and assume a greater leadership role.

“Employee growth” and “opportunities for advancement” need to be more than empty promises in a job listing. By documenting and developing employee growth strategies and showing a genuine commitment to these initiatives, organizations will make a smart investment in the long-term wellbeing of their employees and the organization as a whole.

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