There is much to be said for the benefits of developing employees internally. Not only will you have a happier, more engaged, and longer-tenured workforce than if you did not provide these opportunities for growth, but you can also save a fair amount of money by addressing issues such as skills gaps through training and development, rather than hiring pricey external candidates for the experience you could be building in-house. It is, however, much easier to talk about employee development than it is to do it. If you’re looking to make the most of the opportunity for internal development but don’t know where to begin, any one of these three methods should help you to get started without issue.

  1.    Learn at Your Own Pace Programs

Many employees find these programs appealing since they have the freedom to learn what they want whenever they want. These programs may cost a bit to put together, but it’s not difficult to find comprehensive curriculums online for purchase. Alternatively, you may choose to build these learning experiences internally, through your organization’s own Learning and Development resources. However you go about putting it together, the important thing is to make sure that employees know how to access the information, that they are given all of the tools they will need for success, and that they are encouraged to take advantage of the program. It will be a great perk for employees and will help your organization build internal bench strength in any number of skills.

  1.    Cross-Training Programs

Cross-training programs are a phenomenal way to solve several problems frequently faced by businesses. They can help to close known skill gaps, to aid in knowledge transfer, and to boost employee engagement. Cross-training employees will have a price tag attached and may be time consuming, but if it’s done correctly, the benefits of the program to both the organization and the individual employee should make up for any losses incurred.

  1.    Mentorship Programs

Mentorship programs are great for employees at all levels. Senior leadership will have the opportunity to build their coaching skills by mentoring junior employees, who will in turn gain access to valuable career guidance. These programs are most often voluntary and are not likely to have many costs associated with them, but can still have huge impacts on high-potential employees. From recommendations on technical skills to improve on, to guidance and coaching around soft skills, employees who receive mentorship should have ample opportunity to develop themselves and will be able to contribute at a higher level because of it.

Many organizations employ all three of these methods (and sometimes more) in the name of employee development. There is some investment necessary on the part of the business, but if these programs are built and administered correctly, they should more than pay for themselves. Companies can address multiple challenges by utilizing the right blend of developmental programs, so it is an investment well worth consideration for businesses both large and small.

Written: February 2017