5 professional development opportunities employees want

1. Management and leadership training

According to the report, 32 percent of respondents said they were most interested in management and leadership training. Though this is a broad category, the effect of fostering confident leaders is unmistakable — good managers can improve employee engagement and overall retention.

One of the best ways to encourage manager development is by offering online courses. At University of Massachusetts Global, for instance, professionals can enroll in classes like effective delegation and self-management. In addition to reviewing relevant case studies, students engage in interactive assignments and receive support from dedicated instructors. Webinars also offer an effective learning opportunity that allows employees to engage from their desks. For an in-person option, try hosting internal workshops that are run by high-level managers who share insight and offer practical tips.

2. Professional certifications

Certifications are great middle-ground options that don’t take the same level of commitment as degrees, which makes them appealing to employees moving into new roles or taking on additional responsibilities. According to the PayScale report, the industries most interested in professional certifications were:

There are certification preparation courses offered by schools that can help employees prepare for exams while earning continuing education units (CEUs). One good option for general business development in almost any industry is a Human Resources Certification Exam Preparation Course. This covers material necessary to pass either the Professional in Human Resources (PHR) or the Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) exams. Other popular courses can prepare employees to become certified in the Six Sigma approach for process improvement and payroll accounting, management and administration.

As you evaluate which options are best for your employees and organization, be sure not to mistake certification preparation with certificate programs. While certification often involves self-paced study, a certificate involves multiple courses that can be transferred into degree programs such as a master’s. Two examples of this include a Graduate Certificate in Business Administration — covering foundations of standard business practices like financial reporting economic influences and marketing management — and a Graduate Certificate in Business Intelligence and Analytics — teaching students how to leverage data to make better decisions.

3. Technical skills training

While certain industries have more opportunities for technical skills training than others, PayScale reports that workers in a variety of occupations are interested in advancing their proficiency in areas such as programming languages, search engine optimization, and 3D molding. They include employees who work in:

Technical training can be included as a part of certification requirements, workshops and individual classes. For example, University of Massachusetts Global offers a course in data science for those looking to take their analytics skills to the next level. Again, it’s possible to host your own trainings by leveraging existing employees who have already mastered certain technical skills. Some professional conferences will even host working sessions to help attendees learn new skills and deepen their existing knowledge.

As industries incorporate new technologies, it’s also good to keep in mind that IT certifications can go a long way toward pushing your personnel to remain competitive. Instead of outsourcing tasks, providing technical training can keep talent in-house.

4. Teamwork and interpersonal skills training

It may seem like investing in technical skills is the most sensible thing to do, but don’t overlook soft skills. Competencies like emotional intelligence, communication and collaboration are just as important. These are the types of skills that keep your departments thriving.

While some critics may argue that these skills can’t be taught, there are certainly ways to develop these competencies with the right training. There are plenty of informal exercises that can help workers improve their communication, collaboration and creative thinking.

5. Employer-subsidized degrees

Lastly, some employees are looking for tuition assistance as they work toward their degrees. This route can be more expensive than other offerings; however, the return on investment (ROI) may increase accordingly. One health insurance company actually experienced a 129 percent ROI through implementing an education reimbursement program. Between reduced turnover rates, increased employee engagement and lower recruitment costs, tuition benefit programs can save your organization a lot of money in the long run.



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