Crafting an effective employee development program

A new employee development program will help boost engagement at Sapere.

Employee engagement means happier, more productive staff.

At Sapere, we work across a variety of industries to help clients realize more efficient processes, effective workflows and positive results. This continued focus on streamlining and improvement means we need to make similar changes internally as well, committing to the continued professional development of all staff members to ensure the best possible outcomes for our client and employees.

Why focus on employee development?

"Only 32 percent of U.S. employees feel engaged at work."

A broad-based issue facing both the U.S. and world economies is employee engagement. According to Gallup, just 13 percent of all workers worldwide are engaged with their careers. While U.S. performance in the category is better, at 32 percent, the current figure indicates a wide gulf between the total number of working Americans and those in that group who feel motivated, encouraged and otherwise involved while at work. While our internal research over time indicates we outperform the national average for employee engagement, there's always room to improve and better results to strive for.

Engaged employees produce better results because they feel an increased sense of ownership for their work and invest more time, effort, thought and labor into it, no matter which industry they work in. For Sapere, employee engagement is especially critical because of the level of autonomy our employees utilize in their day-to-day work, as well as their high level of work done directly with clients.

Sapere's staff members are critical for everything from executing projects to leading in effective, cutting-edge uses of technology and embodying the core competencies that move the company forward as a whole. For that reason, it's vital that our staff are engaged, involved and emboldened through their work.

Employee development is a major aspect of overall engagement that provides for further professional growth and skill development as time goes on, increasing their relevant knowledge and abilities. In turn, this means staff can expand their current roles and grow into new ones, adding the variety and offers of new challenges that keep employees engaged and invested in the work they do each and every day.

Creating an effective employee development program

Internal employee surveys and research into employee engagement as a concept revealed the concept of professional development as an effective pathway toward boosting staff sentiment, involvement, ownership and results. The next step, forming and deploying successful employee development framework, is now underway.

"The employee development plan takes a holistic approach to offer successful growth pathways."

The project started with the internal documentation, role assignment and approval processes that are vital to crafting any new program that is both effective and able to function properly inside the existing framework and workflows of the business. With the right people in the right places – an essential consideration that is very similar to how we staff external projects with our clients – the stage was set for further work.

The employee development plan as a whole doesn't focus on a single concern or pathway to improve engagement and offer growth opportunities. Instead, it focuses on a number of areas to take a holistic approach and offer a number of different pathways to successfully involve as many employees as possible.

One major element involved in the program is the implementation of regular employee review meetings. These events are an excellent opportunity to not only discuss work done during the three-month intervals between each session but to learn more about employees and their short- and long-term goals as well. To ensure the process is effective for the company as well as individual employees, templates for both the evaluations and tracking the results of those meetings were implemented. That means the information shared by employees, whether about their goals for professional development or past actions, is accessible in the future.

New onboarding and corporate value communication strategies ensure the newest employees at Sapere are quickly brought on board. That means they not only learn about direct work responsibilities, but the company culture and opportunities for growth and development as time goes on. While the culture has irrevocably shifted regarding the frequency with which the average employee moves between employers, we place a high value on developing long-term employees. That view was one of the significant factors in building a new employee development program, ensuring new staff can see how they can prosper and grow throughout their time at Sapere.

We've also invested plenty of time and effort into documenting career path options, providing a better definition of what skills and experience staff need to successfully move forward in new roles. That effort is similar to ones documenting the specific responsibilities and needs of each position inside the company. Those clearer definitions mean it's easier for staff and managers to determine what's needed to progress into a more senior position or entirely new role.

Encouraging staff and focusing on engagement is a critical element of success for any business. At Sapere, we'll continue to boost engagement with the goal of bettering operations and making employees active, informed decision-makers on their career paths.