Career Pathing for Remote Workers
How L&D leaders can enhance professional development, career growth, and productivity for remote workers.
Flexible work is the new normal, and that’s not expected to change anytime soon. If anything, the trend is expected to take deeper roots.
The biggest reason remote work isn’t going anywhere is that people have a strong preference for it. These days, about 58% of Americans have an opportunity to work from home at least one day per week. When given a chance to work flexibly, 87% of people are taking that chance. They’re also relishing the opportunity: 97% of remote workers recommend it to others.
This transformation creates a key moment for learning and development (L&D) and HR leaders to be proactive in setting up their online learning programs for the future of work.
Career and professional development for remote workers can be a differentiator
Clearly, most companies have room for improvement in terms of career development and creating opportunities for growth. People have been quitting and switching jobs at previously unseen rates for a while now – even those working remotely. Pay is a factor, of course, but so is professional growth. Asked why they left their job, 63% listed lack of opportunity for advancement as a reason, the same percentage who listed low pay. Feeling disrespected at work (57%) wasn’t far behind.
By improving professional career development programs for remote workers, L&D leaders can make their companies more stable, capable, and profitable. At the same time, L&D leaders can help today’s remote and hybrid employees become more productive, satisfied, and suited for upward mobility. The best part is that both goals can be achieved congruently.
“Today, we’re seeing more L&D practitioners embrace their role as agility enablers, which often means less content creation and more learning culture creation. Smart L&D leaders are getting out of the way and creating the conditions to help employees to focus on the right stuff to build the right skills to move the org forward.”
Prioritize agility through professional growth
Since 2015, the skills needed for job roles have changed by 25 percent. Your company requires certain skills right now. There’s no denying that. But historical evidence suggests that companies will need different skills a few years from now.
When skill development is tightly aligned with an employee’s own professional growth and career goals, the odds of them engaging with learning content and following through are much higher – even if they are working independently outside of an office.
Across the globe, people crave career progress
According to LinkedIn’s 2023 Workplace Learning Report, employees’ top motivations to learn are:
Progress toward career goals
Staying up to date in their fields
If they had more time
Personalized learning for their interests and career goals
Emphasize professional development in everyday operations
In the past, professional development consisted mostly of workshops or conferences. The events were usually one-offs, and often of the employer’s choosing.
Today, technology has made it possible for employers to capitalize on learning and development opportunities in real time — at the precise moment when guidance will have the greatest impact. Tools like LinkedIn Learning give L&D leaders a broad library of on-demand resources for capitalizing on immediate opportunities for professional development.
By taking advantage of all delivery methods, employers can instill a culture of learning and growth that enables remote employees to not only increase their professional value, but also feel valued in the process.
“One of the top reasons people leave their company is that they don't see the pathway to career advancement or where new opportunities will come from. If employees don't know their career paths when they're in the office, can you imagine how much harder it is when they're working remotely?”
Enable self-directed professional development
When employers dictate the development of a specific skill and give rigid guidelines for acquiring the skill, that’s not really professional development — it’s a professional who’s being developed in the company’s image. Employees can sense the difference.
That’s why self-directed professional development is so important. For starters, self-directed professional development can help put your remote workers and in-person staff on the same playing field. With self-directed development, those working remotely can feel as though they have access to the exact same learning and advancement opportunities as everyone else.
Self-directed learning doesn’t mean the organization is completely uninvolved in the planning process, but rather that once a plan has been jointly agreed upon, the learner is empowered to take control.
A big advantage of self-directed professional development is flexibility. Every individual at your organization has their own priorities, as well as their own work and learning preferences. Remember: “if they had more time” and “personalized learning for interests and career goals” were top learning motivators, both of which are maximized under this self-directed model.
Resources that can help L&D leaders get started
LinkedIn Learning offers a treasure trove of timely resources for employers and employees alike. Here are a few that may be of interest to L&D leaders looking to enhance career pathing for remote workers.
For your employees:
For your managers and other leaders:
In an increasingly remote and hybrid work environment, using learning as an opportunity for employees to connect, collaborate, and grow together is a big opportunity. Especially in larger organizations, it’s important to seek employee training software that offers supportive and interactive community features, like the ability to join groups, recommend courses to others, and watch content together (even remotely).