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14 Fun Professional Development Activities

How can you possibly make professional development fun? We'll show you with these 14 engaging ideas! Read on to learn more.

#Work-Life Balance
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What is professional development? ๐Ÿง

Professional development allows people to grow and learn in their careers. It's about taking the time to reflect on your experiences, skills, and goals and then using that knowledge to make changes in the way you work.

Professional development can be done through various activities: reading books, taking courses or workshops through a training management system, or even just talking with other people in your industry about what they've learned.

But what does that mean for you? Is it worth investing in for your team?


Why should you offer professional development opportunities? ๐Ÿ‘€

An organization that wants to elevate the employee experience has to offer growth and development opportunities.

Why? Well, for starters, 70% of employees are somewhat likely to leave their current position for an organization willing to invest in their growth. And turnover costs companies roughly $11 billion each year. ๐Ÿ˜ฑ

But that's enough of the scare tactics. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Let's look at the benefits!


The benefits of professional development ๐Ÿ˜

At the company level, the benefits of development training look a little like this:

  • Retention rates rise anywhere from 30 to 50% for companies that emphasize learning in their company culture
  • Companies that spend $1,500+ per year on employee development reported 24% higher annual profits than companies that spent less

And on a personal level, professional development training can help your employees:

  • Gain confidence and overcome imposter syndrome as your employees are better equipped to handle career-related challenges.
  • Feel fulfilled in their career as professional development indicates a clear path to career growth. Aka - your employees won't be bored or feel stuck!
  • Better prepare for company changes, like succession planning. Your employees will have the confidence and knowledge to transition into future leadership roles because you've helped with their leadership development skills!

By investing in professional development workshops and activities for your employees, youโ€™re setting them โ€” and your company โ€” up for success! ๐Ÿ™Œ


But wait...can you actually make professional development fun? ๐Ÿค”

Yes, of course! Professional development doesn't have to be a chore.

As a leader, you know how important it is for your employees to grow and learn new skills. But sometimes, professional development can feel like an obligation or an interruption to the workdayโ€”and it's easy for your employees to feel that way too.

Good thing we have a few tips on how to make it fun. ๐Ÿ˜‰


3 quick tips to make professional development a win ๐Ÿ’ก

Professional development is a key part of being a leader, but keeping your employees engaged and excited about it can be hard. Here's how to make professional development fun for your employees:

  1. Make sure that any professional development is relevant to the needs of your team so that it actually helps them do their jobs better. Incorporate a skills-based learning strategy into your skill-sharing program to ensure that employees are developing targeted skills that directly contribute to their roles and the organizationโ€™s goals.
  2. Make sure that any professional development is structured around learning by doing, not just sitting in an online learning sesh just listening to someone talk about something (unless they're going to be doing some hands-on training, too).
  3. Make sure there's some kind of reward or recognition involvedโ€”this could be as simple as saying "good job" when someone learns something new!


14 professional development ideas that will keep your team engaged ๐ŸŽ‰

1. Do some vision boarding ๐Ÿ–ผ

A vision board workshop is an excellent, hands-on way to spur growth!

In a vision board workshop, participants are given the opportunity to reflect on their goals and aspirations for themselves, their company, and their industry. They then use this reflection to create a visual reminder of what they want from life and work.

As far as career development activities go, vision boards provide clarity for a career path, allowing your employee to understand themselves better in their personal and professional lives and help you better understand your employee's needs!

Where to get started ๐Ÿ‘‰ Manifest your goals in this guided Vision Board Workshop!


2. Think faster with an improv class ๐ŸŽญ

It's not enough to have all the knowledge in the world: you need to be able to apply it quickly and effectively, no matter what situation you're in. That's where improv comes in.

Improvisation is about taking an idea, making it yours, and putting it out there for others to react toโ€”and that requires quick thinking, active listening, flexibility, and creativity.

Improv classes help you develop these skills by giving you a safe space to fail without fear of judgment. You'll learn to listen closely to what other people are saying so that you can deliver it without hesitation when they ask for more information or clarification.ย 

And because they know they're not going to get stuck with something they didn't want from the start, participants will be more likely to open up and share their ideasโ€”which means more innovation!

Where to get started ๐Ÿ‘‰ Get creative in Think Faster, an improv workshop designed for corporate teams!


3. Hone communication skills in an interactive workshop ๐Ÿ—ฃ

Communication skills are a massive part of professional development because they allow you to express yourself clearly and effectively. If you can't communicate what you need to say and why, it's hard to understand your own goals and how to meet them.

Communicating effectively is also the key to building relationships with coworkers. If you can't explain your ideas clearly, then other people won't be able to understand them and effectively work with you. And if you can't communicate your emotions clearly, then it's hard for other people to know how you're feeling and how best to support you through workplace challenges.

Where to get started ๐Ÿ‘‰ Become an effective collaborator in our Communication Skills Workshop!


4. Plan mentoring Lunch and Learns ๐Ÿด

Your own professional development activities don't have to include the entire team at once.

Mentoring Lunch and Learns are informal, yet structured sessions where employees can gather over lunch to learn from experienced mentors within the organization. These sessions typically focus on specific topics related to career development, industry insights, or personal growth, providing a relaxed setting for knowledge sharing and networking.

Plan a variety of sessions covering different aspects of professional and personal development to cater to a wide range of interests. Use interactive elements such as Q&A sessions and group discussions to make the sessions more engaging and impactful.

Be sure to collect feedback from participants to find out what they'd like covered in these sessions and ensure they meet the needs and expectations of the attendees.


5. Build up emotional intelligence with exercises in empathy ๐Ÿ’™

Emotional intelligence (EQ) is a term used to describe how you relate to yourself and others. It's what helps you manage your own emotions, understand other people's emotions, and work effectively with others to meet shared goals. Plus, empathy is perhaps the biggest indicator of high EQ!

If you're not empathetic, it's easy to slip into thinking that your way is the only way. By exercising empathy, especially with the people you work with, you can understand how others are feeling and why they do the things they do. And this can help you better connect and become a stronger team player!

Where to get started ๐Ÿ‘‰ Learn about your team when you book Empathy at Work, featuring empathy-focused icebreakers designed to get your team talking, sharing, and connecting on a deeper level.


6. Practice conflict management ๐Ÿคผ

Conflict management is the ability to identify and resolve issues between parties, intending to create an environment where all parties feel comfortable solving puzzles and other workplace conflicts. Professionals need to practice conflict management because it helps them interact with others in a way that benefits everyone involved!

But practicing these problem-solving skills isn't always fun, especially if your conflict resolution exercises look like a weird pop quiz sent by the HR team.

To make conflict management skills stick, it's best to practice it through low-stakes, hypothetical activities like โ€œStranded on a Desert Islandโ€ and The Two Dollar Game. On top of folks developing their own understanding of conflict resolution, your team will understand how to resolve conflicts together!


7. Take personality tests โœ๏ธ

Understanding one's personality traits and preferences is a foundational step in professional development. Personality tests, such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), DISC assessment, and the Big Five Personality Test, offer insights into how individuals perceive the world and make decisions.

These assessments can help employees identify employees' strengths, weaknesses, and areas for improvement, fostering self-awareness and personal growth.


8. Practice mindful leadership ๐Ÿง 

When it comes to fun professional development activities, hosting an activity centered on leadership is vital!

Empowered leadership, people who understand how to lead, can make an organization come out on top. Leaders play a huge part in the employee experience, and leaders who know how to focus on the whole person (vs. only output) are the ones you need on your team.

Plus, by developing leadership skills, your company is better preparing itself for future employee succession. Three cheers for a bright future!

Where to get started ๐Ÿ‘‰ Create caring, empathetic leaders in our Mindful Leadership Workshop!


9. Attend a conference together ๐Ÿ’ผ

There are plenty of online learning opportunities, but remember that you can also find the perfect professional development session at a conference!

Conferences or business trips are great for networking and can equip your team with unique industry knowledge that spurs their growth.ย 

The best part about a conference is your team gets the opportunity to create their own schedule and attend seminars catered to their needs. Plus, in the downtime, you'll have plenty of chances to bond more!

Although it's not always the most cost-effective solution, an annual conference for your team's professional development is worth it.

Where to get started ๐Ÿ‘‰ Search for conferences based on your industry to find one best suited for your team. For HR leaders, here's a handy list of the Top HR Conferences in 2024!


10. Start a skill-sharing program ๐Ÿ‘ฏ

Of all the fun professional development activities, skill sharing is one of the best ways to have your staff members help each other with professional growth!

Setting up a skill-share program between your employees is one of the best professional development ideas. It helps your employees connect with workplace leaders, creating a stronger community among all involved.

When a team member learns from a team leader, they get the unique opportunity to learn from someone who aligns with their interest, values, and career trajectory.

Where to get started ๐Ÿ‘‰ Ten Thousand Coffees offers all you need to set up the ideal skill-sharing program for you and your colleagues!


11. Meet at the Water Cooler ๐Ÿ’ผ

Getting to know your team's backgrounds is a helpful step to working in harmony with your colleagues. But, as weโ€™ve all experienced โ€” the getting-to-know-you conversations can get a little boring from time to time. That's where our Water Cooler comes in handy.

This workshop employs a standard team building tool, icebreakers, as a networking opportunity. Your team will get hands-on experience in listening, sharing past experiences, and getting to know each other's backgrounds better โ€“ watch the results at work!

How to get started ๐Ÿ‘‰ Letโ€™s meet up at the Water Cooler and get to know each other a little better.


12. Break for a Workplace Mental Health Workshop ๐Ÿง˜

One in four people will experience a mental health disorder at some point in their lives. It is a normal part of life that we often push to the margins. Together, we can break the stigma. Our facilitator will guide your team as they safely discuss and share how mental health has affected their lives.

Employees who feel comfortable talking about mental health in the workplace are five times more likely to trust their leaders and the company as a whole. Better your team's mental health through this team building activity, which provides an action plan for tackling these tough moments without shame or embarrassment.ย 

How to get started ๐Ÿ‘‰ When youโ€™re ready to talk โ€” weโ€™re ready to listen. Sign up for the Workplace Mental Health Workshop now.ย 


13. Celebrate differences with a Diversity & Inclusion Workshop ๐Ÿ“š

Everyone lives with unconscious bias, which can lead to decision-making they arenโ€™t even aware of. Breaking down that bias is essential to accepting the hard personal truths behind Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion training. This eye-opening workshop is essential to bring your team into 2024 and beyond.

Thereโ€™s no way to spearhead a strong, bonded team without taking the time to prove that everyone has an equal seat at the table. The more comfortable your team feels speaking freely,ย  the more ideas and conversation you can foster at work.

How to get started ๐Ÿ‘‰ Promote diversity, elevate every team member, and create a safe space now, take Diversity & Inclusion Workshop.


14. Host a negotiation skills workshop ๐Ÿค

Negotiation skills are a major professional development topic, from salary discussions to project management and client interactions, especially for professional organizations in a sales-based industry.

Hosting a negotiation skills workshop can equip employees with the techniques and confidence needed to negotiate effectively in various situations. Such workshops typically cover strategies for preparing for negotiations, understanding the interests of all parties involved, and finding mutually beneficial solutions.

Incorporate role-playing exercises like The Pitch Game or The Auction Game to provide hands-on practice and reinforce learning. Offer additional resources, such as reading materials, online courses, or follow-up coaching sessions, to help employees continue developing their negotiation skills after the workshop.


Hold professional development workshops with Confetti ๐Ÿ’ช

At Confetti, we care about your team's development and employee experience as much as you do! That's why we're here to help you find the most fun ways to inspire professional and personal growth. Book directly from our Learning & Development collection or schedule a call with our Happiness Concierge to get started. ๐Ÿฅณ


Frequently Asked Questions โ“

Why should organizations offer professional development opportunities to their employees?

Offering professional development opportunities is crucial for organizations looking to enhance the employee experience and reduce turnover rates. Organizations that prioritize professional development often see increased profitability and productivity compared to those that don't. By investing in employee growth, companies can retain top talent, boost morale, and ultimately improve their bottom line.ย 


What are some professional development ideas?ย 

Aside from the ideas mentioned above, a few more professional development ideas include:

  • Goal-setting sessions, either with the whole group or in a 1:1 meeting between you and an employee
  • Inviting an industry-related guest speaker to discuss their own career advancement


โ€How can you make professional development fun?

Making career development fun is relatively simple! It's mainly about making your professional development activity engaging and relevant to your group.

For example, we flip the typical empathy training on its head in Empathy Water Cooler by taking a more personal, interactive approach through peer-to-peer conversation.


What are the 3 most important areas of development for you professionally?

The 3 most important soft skills anyone interested in professional development should focus on are emotional intelligence, communication (including active listening), and conflict resolution. These are 3 skills vital to anyone in any career across any industry!



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