How Businesses Can Assist Employees with Professional Development

June 17, 2020

What your employees learn and where they learn it helps contribute to their professional development and likely affects their on-the-job happiness.

Studies have shown that ongoing professional development can make a person more productive and content, and it can groom them for greater responsibility. If a company has more engaged workers with professional development opportunities, it may reduce the churn of people looking for new jobs. Basically, it's a win-win for employers and employees.

Another part of the equation is creating a well-organized work environment - this is true for both company offices and home offices - that is conducive to ongoing professional development and work productivity.

well-furnished office helps a business create the right environment for learning and productivity. Part of this is having seating, workstations, and more that suit your design and decor and provide ergonomic benefits that can help a worker be healthier and more focused.

Why Professional Development Is Essential

Whether it is e-learning, going back to school, or attending a workshop or business conference, continuing education helps businesses to train their future leaders, attract talent, and keep their workforce's skills current, which is essential in a rapidly changing marketplace.

When offering professional development programs, organizations have been found to:

  • Enhance their credibility: progressive reputation helps to attract superior job candidates, who, in turn, will become brand ambassadors as they attend conferences and other special events.
  • Increase the collective knowledge of teams: Professional development not only expands an individual's knowledge but also helps those around them. In a highly competitive marketplace, a professional development strategy can be used as an incentive that can be added to a benefits package and contributes to the deciding factors in attracting in-demand job candidates.
  • Bring new ideas to the table: Professional training through online courses or webinars can expand employee horizons and spark their creativity and enthusiasm, which in turn can be brought back to the business to create new and exciting opportunities.
  • Make succession planning easier: Mentorship and leadership programs can help put in place the next generation of talent, helping to promote the company's continued success.

How Businesses Can Encourage Professional Development

Research reveals that 42% of employees believe learning and development are among the most important benefits when deciding where to work. Some ideas to encourage professional learning:

  • Recognition and rewards: To inspire staff to learn requires the right motivation. Create a work culture that recognizes and rewards exceptional professional achievement. Studies show that workers who feel well-rewarded for their accomplishments are more likely to be engaged in their work and try harder.
  • Mentoring and coaching programs: To help employees grow within a job, mentoring and coaching programs might work better than making change and development happen through rules and demands. Creating a management culture that promotes communication and training can help pass on that knowledge and experience from one generation to the next.
  • Ongoing feedback: To create a culture of continuous improvement requires more frequent feedback than annual reviews. Research shows that the majority of workers prefer to receive immediate feedback on mistakes and learning opportunities, rather than receiving yearly reviews.
  • Cross-department training programs: As today's businesses move away from a silo mentality, they are looking to find synergies between departments and teams. The learning experiences of one can help with the development of others. Better communication throughout the organization makes the enterprise stronger. 

Organization Is a Key to Productivity and Happiness

Living in a disorganized mess may cause anxiety during decision-making. By contrast, a clean, well-organized office helps workers stay in a better frame of mind and encourages productivity.

A messy desk, for example, can make it harder to find necessary documents, leading to stress and inefficiency. It's safe to say that people treat their offices like second homes, given how much time they spend there. A house that is clean and well-organized usually operates efficiently. One that is the opposite indicates there could be an issue.

A study in the Journal of Consumer Research shows that a clean, organized workspace can help improve focus so more can get done. In the study, students were asked to sit in a cluttered room or clean one and then had to work on an impossible geometry puzzle. The clean workspace group spent 1,117 seconds on the task, while the cluttered group couldn't muster a full 700 seconds.

A cluttered desk can mean a cluttered mind. By clearing away the clutter, people can open the floodgates to clear, creative thinking.

By getting rid of unnecessary things, people can focus on those that bring them joy, such as:

  • Photos of friends and family
  • Reminders of successful work projects
  • Vision boards
  • Posters with inspirational quotes
  • Things that promote relaxation (such as worry beads)

Create a Well-Organized Office or Learning Space

Whether a company or an individual in a home office wants to create a dedicated space that is conducive to professional learning or a more productive atmosphere generally, file cabinets and bookcases are a means to keeping spaces organized and uncluttered.

Many of today's filing cabinets go beyond the furniture's industrial origins to offer units done in different styles, colors, and materials, such as wood file cabinets. Locking file cabinets can provide additional security, while many file cabinets include features such as rolling units, ball-bearing suspension, and a choice of one to five drawers and lateral and vertical models.

Bookcases provide another important piece of the storage puzzle. Businesses have the choice of metal or wooden bookcases, with different dimensions, shelves, and colors, ranging from mahogany and brown to white or black bookcases.

The choice of the right file cabinet or bookcase not only provides a practical storage solution but also can be a complement to the office design and decor, creating a harmonious environment suited to study or work.

To set up a well-organized office space, HGTV suggests:

  • Filing away or disposing of all loose papers.
  • Color-coding the filing system to make things easier to find.
  • Storing office supply containers, drawers, baskets, and bins that can be put out of the way.
  • Organizing books on the shelves by genre, color, or size.
  • Using wall space to hang filing systems, calendars, whiteboards, shelving, and more.
  • Putting important papers in grab-and-go binders stored on bookshelves.
  • Creating a printing station.
  • Creating a mail station with folders for outgoing and incoming mail.

When setting up a filing system, you should first consider what your storage needs will be, so you buy cabinets with the right number of drawers and amount space, as well as the dimensions to fit your office.

Then, you need to decide on a filing system: Will you, for example, file numerically, alphabetically, or by some other system? Do you search for customer information by name or account number? Or do you file paperwork by category, such as expenses or marketing?

You might also consider investing in a good labeling system to keep your files organized. Being able to easily read file names will save you more time than you would believe. Most label makers provide templates that can be easily integrated with major word-processing programs.

At the end of the day, anything that helps make work and professional development easier is worth embracing.

About the Author

Peter Giffen is a writer and editor who specializes in business and technology.

All content provided herein is for educational purposes only. It is provided “as is” and neither the author nor Office Depot, Inc. warrant the accuracy of the information provided, nor do they assume any responsibility for errors, omissions or contrary interpretation of the subject matter herein.