One of your key roles as a finance leader is to encourage your employees to pursue professional development opportunities that can help them strengthen and refine their skills. Naturally, the more abilities your team has, the better your organization functions.

In addition, since employees who have more robust skill sets also increase their chances of succeeding and moving up the corporate ladder, professional development could positively influence their job satisfaction and your retention rates.

Here are 15 ways to support staff members' professional development:

1. Ease the path to certifications

With all their day-to-day duties, it can be difficult for financial professionals to find time for earning and maintaining professional designations. These certifications, however, can greatly enhance their career potential — and strengthen your organization. Allot a set amount of hours for employees to devote to their continuing education.

2. Offer a tuition match

As much as many professionals would like to obtain advanced certifications or degrees, some put it off because of the costs. Consider helping to defray these expenses while also allowing flexible work options to enable individuals to balance their work and study schedules.

3. Reimburse membership costs

Cover membership fees for professional organizations that offer networking and learning opportunities. Similarly, reimburse personnel for subscriptions to relevant publications and reports.

4. Identify CPE opportunities

In addition to helping cover some of the costs, work with employees to identify opportunities to rack up continuing professional education (CPE) credits. Point staff toward industry associations, online courses and webinars.

5. Create a library

Stock an unused office or a corner of the conference room with books on leadership, industry and business publications, and certification exam study guides. In the process, you’ll also establish a quiet place where individuals can conduct research and review the latest news and trends.

6. Provide in-house training

Schedule monthly sessions on hot topics such as in-demand soft skills, regulatory compliance mandates and the capabilities of your company’s financial system.

7. Host guest speakers

Invite business and financial leaders from outside your organization to present fresh insights and ideas to your team.

8. Coordinate a mentorship program

The benefits of these programs aren’t limited to mentees. Mentors hone their leadership skills and learn new ways of approaching tasks from their protégés.

9. Talk about career paths

Hold career-path discussions with employees. Work with staff to review their goals and the skills, experience and training they’ll need to achieve them.

10. Offer job shadowing

Set up days in which your team members shadow colleagues to help them gain a better understanding of different roles and how your organization functions.

11. Expand your teams

A Robert Half Management Resources survey found a large majority of chief financial officers implemented cross-departmental collaboration outside of accounting and finance in the past few years. Give your team a head start by assigning them to interdepartmental work groups. This offers the added benefit of helping employees build rapport with their colleagues in other parts of the organization.

12. Cross-train

Let individuals build their skills in different areas within accounting and finance, too. For example, a financial analyst may be looking to move into a business systems analyst role.

13. Develop leaders

Encourage employees with potential by creating a leadership development program. This can help you identify succession candidates as well.

14. Hold Q&As

Allow staff to gain from the benefit of your experience by hosting informal, brown-bag Q&A lunches. You also can invite subject-matter experts from your team and staff returning from industry events to present on hot trends.

15. Lead by example

The best leaders inspire staff. Make sure your actions reinforce the performance and attributes you expect from your team.

Any time is a good time to boost your organization's professional development efforts. It will be a win for your business, as well as your accounting and finance team.

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