The past few years have been tough for businesses across the globe. In an effort to survive, many have significantly reduced their operating budgets, which means employee development has basically come to a stand still.
Investing in your people is a lot like home maintenance. You can let it go for a while, but eventually things begin to rapidly deteriorate if you fail to maintain one of your most important assets. Now is the time to begin investing in your infrastructure, so that you are well positioned for the recovery. Here are some ideas to get you started.
Less is more
I've always been a huge proponent of less is more. I prefer to leave a restaurant slightly full, not overstuffed. Organizations that sell training programs have you believing that you have to have the whole enchilada in order to be satisfied. I say, begin with a bite and see how you feel.
Lunch and learns are the perfect way to whet people's appetites. These are sessions where speakers are brought in to discuss the latest trends or to provide skill-based training to a group of people who have expressed interest in a particular topic.
Here's an off-the-menu item that you probably didn't know existed. Many experts, who are authors, will reduce or in some cases waive their speaker fees in return for an organization purchasing a minimum number of books. This is a great way to stretch your budget while filling people's hunger for knowledge.
Start your own book club
If Oprah can do it, so can you! Ask people in your company to recommend their favorite business books. Select a book a month and host a session where people can share their findings. For those who are eco-friendly, consider purchasing Kindles for participants, as this will cut down on the cost of purchasing books, as well as what winds up in our landfills.
The communal table
Perhaps you don't have enough people to start a learning and development program. Nor can you afford to have your staff for off-site meetings that last for days. Consider pooling your resources. Here's an example of how this might work. Suppose you know directors at other organizations who also have people just been promoted into management. You could suggest to your contemporaries the idea of setting up a program that will rotate between your locations. Your people benefit from being able to exchange ideas with like-minded people while you get the benefit of workers who are ready and able to try out their new skills.
Feed your star performers
Most organizations tend to provide training and development to those whose skills are lacking. Sometimes this strategy works, but in most cases, it's simply throwing good money after employees who will never shine. Now imagine what would happen if you made your best employee better!
World-class organizations provide executive coaching to a select group of people who are their stars. They recognize this investment will have a much larger payoff than if they were to take this money and divide it evenly.
Look around your organization. Who are your star performers? Has it been a while since you nourished them? Hire an executive coach who can help them beef up their performance.
Studies show that one of the key drivers of employee engagement and retention is an employee's perception regarding their organization's willingness to invest in them. If it's been a while since you've fed your people's souls, this is indeed the perfect time to serve up an order of learning and development that can put a boost back into your organization's performance.
The economy is turning around and people are beginning to review their satisfaction levels with their current employers. Now would be an excellent time to remind your employees why a seat at your table is indeed the best seat in town.
Roberta Chinsky Matuson is the President of Human Resource Solutions (www.yourhrexperts.com) and author of the highly acclaimed book Suddenly in Charge: Managing Up, Managing Down, Succeeding All Around, Sign up to receive a complimentary subscription to Roberta's monthly newsletter, HR Matters.