Keeping your trainees engaged: your guide to help them through the PSC process

11 Jun 2019
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The Professional Skills Course (PSC) is a pivotal part of any legal trainee’s development programme, helping to shape the course of their career. As well as bolstering professional knowledge and skills during this time, it’s crucial to keep your trainees engaged to encourage loyalty and help to ensure career longevity. However, employee engagement needs to be genuine and individual-focused, rather than a tick box exercise. According to Forbes, employees are increasingly looking for a holistic approach to how firms partner with their team members, meaning that the overall experience during this time is more important than ever.  So, for our blog this week, we’re sharing our top tips to help bolster your trainee experience and to keep them engaged.

 

Encourage networking opportunities
A professional network will be important to your trainees throughout the course of their careers and networking events and opportunities during the course of their training will prove invaluable. Organisations such as National Junior Lawyers or Young Professionals Group can help your trainees to engage with their peers and enhance their industry knowledge in an external environment. Additionally, according to Forbes, networking events can provide a great sounding board for additional advice, sharing knowledge and can help to create a sense of belonging within the industry.

 

Introduce a mentorship scheme
Although not a new phenomenon but certainly one that has withstood the test of time, mentorship schemes can present a number of significant benefits for your firm, both for your trainees and more senior members of your team. Research shows that 80% of all learning is informal, meaning that mentorship should be considered essential when looking to keep your trainees engaged. In addition, it can help to improve team satisfaction levels, with the Journal of Vocational Behaviour highlighting that people who have the opportunity to participate in a mentorship scheme report greater job satisfaction and a higher commitment to their employers. You can even utilise technology to help bring this to life, with mentoring conducted across virtual meeting rooms such as Google Meet and Skype to help encourage cross-location communications.

 

Regularly evaluate development
According to research from Breathe, 30% of the UK workforce has never had meetings about their personal development, a figure which is quite shocking, particularly as 75% of employees consider personal development to be very valuable. However, reviewing development and conducting appraisals should be more than just a tick box exercise. To truly engage your trainees, you need to understand what they want, what your business is able to offer them and be able to identify key areas for training not for compliance sake, but for true personal and professional development.

 

Reward and recognise achievements
While trainees will usually begin their professional journey as highly engaged and motivated, it’s important to encourage this attitude continuously for their benefit and that of your firm. One way to do this is through employee recognition schemes. This doesn’t always have to be a monetary reward, but internal recognition in team communications or a small prize can help to drive the employee experience and show them that they are valued. According to Inc, seven out of 10 employees who received appreciation for their work said they’re happy with their jobs in comparison with just 39% of team members who hadn’t received recognition.

 

Allow time for development
We know that while they are completing their PSC, trainees will be responsible for contributing to fee-earning activity, often in fast-paced environments. While this is an essential element of their development, gaining hands-on experience of live cases, they also require ample space to continue their PSC learning. Whether they’re undertaking modules in a face-to-face classroom outside of the office or if they opt to take their learning online with virtual classrooms, it’s crucial to give your trainees the space needed to give the PSC their full attention.

 

During the course of the PSC and the training contract, trainees will develop enormously both personally and professionally, and it’s key that they stay engaged and encouraged during this time to ensure that they do not lose focus of the end goal. There are a number of measures that you can put in place to ensure that this happens including a mentorship scheme, regularly evaluating development, encouraging networking opportunities and more. But above all, it’s crucial that your trainees have the time and space to complete their PSC, allowing them every opportunity to thrive in their new roles. For more information or to book your place on our upcoming PSC dates in both face-to-face and online classroom environments, contact us today on 02920 451 000 or email us at altior@kaplan.co.uk