Professional DevelopmentAs a company, you want your employees to be invested in your goals. You want them to get excited about your successes, and feel motivated to improve your products, contribute to your workplace culture, and be an active part of the company community. Your employees will not be as apt to be invested in you, though, if you don’t make it a point to invest in them.

Professional development opportunities in the workplace are more important now than ever before. The next generation of workers are the famous millennials, and companies are working to adapt their programming in order to attract this powerful group that is filled with new ideas and different priorities.

It may come as a surprise to some companies that millennials prioritize professional development over financial rewards like cash bonuses. According to a report published by PWC, millennials are looking for a company that will allow them to learn, grow, and develop as an individual. They want to enhance their career and balance it with their personal lives. Millennials also are constantly seeking new career possibilities, so it’s beneficial for employers to provide professional development opportunities that makes the worker feel valued and respected.

These are a few of the ways that you can foster professional development in the workplace and keep employees loyal, interested, and invested in your company:

Create a Mentorship Program

A mentorship program allows lower-level employees to connect with senior employees on a personal and professional level. You can create a mentorship program that links employees who have similar job responsibilities, or a program that helps employees discover the new opportunities that might be available to them within the company. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, a successful mentorship program allows employees to create a long-lasting professional relationship and helps them to understand the value of networking.

When establishing a mentorship program, it’s essential to create consistent guidelines that will be followed by all parties. For example, a mentorship could be established for a year-long period, or it could be developed as a permanent relationship. The company should make an effort to create events that allow mentors to connect with one another on a personal level, such as mentorship lunches or mentor outings. Mentors should be encouraged to communicate with one another on a regular basis, and a program coordinator should monitor the success of the relationships.

Utilize Massive Open Online Courses

Massive open online courses, or MOOCs, have recently been introduced to human resources departments as the latest professional development tool in the industry. These courses are open to the public and can provide employees with opportunities to learn more about themselves and their industry, as well as grow their skill sets. Many MOOC platforms provide a solution for businesses to help them distribute and create courses for employees. Courses cover a wide variety of topics, ranging from Spanish language learning to leadership development.

You should encourage your employees to enroll in MOOCs that help them in their current role and also enhance their overall career. This will entice your employees to participate, and allow your organization to benefit from the skills that they learn.

Provide Access to Valuable Industry Resources

When you provide employees with access to resources, not only will they feel like they are gaining value from their relationship with their employer, but also they will be empowered to develop their professional skills. To this end, your company may want to invest in a library of resources, such as webinars, software tools, and subscriptions. You also can consider scheduling lunch-and-learn events and training seminars with industry experts.

Professional development is pivotal for any 21st century company, and it’s essential to make these opportunities fun and inviting. Your employees should not feel like they have to go to yet another professional development event. They should be excited and interested in the opportunity that is available, as it will help them grow within their current role and also on a personal and professional level. When your employees are excited about professional development, they will get more from the programs and are more likely to feel valued by you and your company.

This article originally appeared in the CultureIQ Blog.