All too often, the daily deadlines and shorter-term goals of a person’s job can take up so much brain space and diary time that they cannot think beyond what they have to do that day. Yet planning time out to attend conferences and external events relevant to one's work is crucial for career development.
Here's why every employer should send their people to regular conferences and training days, or even plan their own events to boost employee morale.
Firstly, employers seeking to motivate, engage and retain staff would be well-advised to help them find ways to widen their knowledge, meet new people and attend industry events to inform their day-to-day job. Employees who feel they are considered important enough to be sent on missions such as these to represent the company will feel stronger loyalty towards their bosses, as well as a greater sense of self-worth. Conferences and training sessions can also be fun, and make a nice change from a normal day in the office.
Recent research into employee development showed that three factors were revealed as being especially crucial for effective job engagement; psychological meaningfulness, availability and safety. In other words, employees engaged most effectively with their work when they believed it made a genuine difference to the wider world, when they were allocated adequate resources to complete it properly and when they felt safe and secure in the role. They wanted to feel that they wouldn’t lose their job if they made a mistake or if funding ran out – considerations linked firmly to the instinct to survive.
Again, these factors are all extremely relevant to attending conferences. Firstly, external events tend to offer additional knowledge about the industry that goes beyond a delegate's normal job spec and company briefing. This adds meaning to their role, as they start to see it as part of a much larger picture. It can also put them in the path of peers doing the same job in different divisions or companies, and give them the chance to meet other, often more senior members of their own organisation. Meeting them in a different context levels the playing field and removes office-based hierarchy, at least temporarily.
Conference or training delegates also get a valuable opportunity to debate issues and discover other ways of thinking about their job, its content and impact on both the company and society as a whole. They learn more about the availability of further training, extended responsibilities at work and new learning resources. They will hopefully come away from the conference with new ideas and ways to approach their role and the duties and goals it involves.
Finally, a key way in which attending a conference or training session aids employee engagement is that it helps them feel like they belong to a team. Satisfied employees will share their company’s values and believe that they are making a difference to its success. People who truly feel part of a team will put every effort into defending it and working towards common goals. These people are valuable assets for any company and will play a large part in ensuring its future success.