Insight June 26, 2018

8 Ways to Encourage Professional Development


As the old adage goes, “you are only as strong as your weakest link.” This is true of chains, and this is true of businesses. You are only as innovative and informed as your least innovative and informed employee. A business is like a hive, and while everyone has different roles, they all work together to keep the hive flourishing. How do you ensure your employees are up to the task? You encourage professional development!

Here at inferno, we make it a point to hire the best of the best. We look for employees who know their discipline and have the soft skills to thrive in our work culture. However, that doesn’t mean everyone who works here knows everything there is to know. In an ever-changing discipline like advertising, there is always room for growth. That’s why we put a strong focus on professional development.

Helping employees hone their crafts or even develop new skills not only shows a return on investment in their work, but also creates a culture of innovation and creativity. According to Inc., encouraging professional development helps companies attract and retain top talent, keeps employees engaged, and actually saves businesses money. No matter your industry, investing in employees helps your company look to the future and produce better work.

Types of Professional Development

There are many ways to encourage and facilitate professional development for your employees. Here are some of our favorites:

  1. Web Resources– Webinars, e-books, and white papers are inexpensive (often free) tools that cover a variety of topics from which employees can learn. We’re partial to webinars by Hootsuite, Adweek, and Brandwatch to keep up with trends in the advertising industry. In the fast-paced web development world, online tutorials are one of the ways our developers find the latest hacks and advancements.
  2. Certifications– There are dozens of online classes and certification tracks that employees can take to increase their knowledge. Here at inferno, we have employees who hold an accreditation in public relations, as well as certifications with Nexus, Google Analytics, and Yoast SEO. It can be a lot of work, but having certified employees lets customers know you are truly an expert.
  3. Check-ins– Scheduling regular meetings with a supervisor or mentor within the company is a great way to encourage professional development. It provides employees with an opportunity to run issues by someone with more experience, as well as discuss potential career projection.
  4. Brainstorming Sessions – The creative team at inferno constantly amazes us with their innovative ideas. One of the ways they stay at peak creativity is through creative mashups. These mashups get them away from the daily grind and allow them to brainstorm, have fun, and teach each other new things.
  5. In-office Workshops– We love bringing in outsiders to teach employees about various topics from being a good public speaker to wellness at work. We also support Lunch-n-Learns hosted by employees, which helps with their own professional development, as well as that of the departments to which they are presenting.
  6. Associations– As an agency, we are proud to be part of several industry and local organizations, and we support employees in their involvement with various associations. Groups like the American Advertising Federation,Public Relations Society of America, and the Greater Memphis Chamber give our employees opportunities to learn from and network with others in the industry, both on a local and national level. Our employees are not just members of these associations — some are even on the board or hold officer positions.
  7. Conferences– Conferences are another chance for employees to not only gain professional knowledge, but also to grow their networks. Our team has attended or has plans to attend Content Marketing World, PRSA International Conference, Adobe Max, Creative Works, DisruptHR, and Digital Summit.
  8. Community Service– At inferno, we place a huge focus on how we give back to our community. As part of our Fuelanthropic initiative, employees are given one full week of civic time each year to devote to organizations of their choice. While some are getting their hands dirty on the ground, others are using their skills as marketers to help nonprofits amplify their message, increase funding, and reach potential volunteers.

If you’re a leader at your company, we encourage you to adopt some (or all) of these professional development tactics. You are sure to see a return in the form of innovative content and strategies, as well as employee happiness and retention. If you’re not in a leadership role, send this post to your supervisors or find opportunities for your own professional growth and pitch them for yourself.

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