Why creating a culture of professional development is critical for your company’s success

by | May 16, 2017 | Employers, Learning and Development

Just about everyone knows the time old analogy of making a house a home, you need to fill a basic structure with things personal to you in order for you to feel comfortable enough in it to call it “home.” Similarly, to keep your employees happy and motivated, you need to give them a home, and in today’s working world, the freedom to learn is the best way to do this. It takes away some of the stress of a job knowing that you are able to explore interesting topics that engage your intelligence. Basically, if work feels just like work, your employees will clock out at 5pm to follow their passions rather than exploring some of those passions in their work setting.

This is why professional development is critical for your company’s success, and today, is considered a benefit that is expected along with health insurance and 401k plans. In fact, many millennials value this professional development more than money early on in their careers.

Here are 4 ways professional development will increase your company’s success:

Retention

This is the single most important benefit of professional development. Without dedicated, diligent, and HAPPY employees, your company cannot succeed. Last year, the average range of costs for replacing entry level employees was reported at 30-50% of their annual salary, while replacing mid-level employees added up to 150% of their annual salary.

It’s holding onto employees that permits companies to grow and thrive. This is especially important for startups that already work as a small team. Having employees come and go strongly disrupts the dynamic of the team, stunts the growth of the company, and creates waste around the time and efforts of having to retrain and reintroduce employees to the existing role.

Performance

If an employee has the added benefit of working in collaboration with senior leads, supervisors and coworkers to learn and mature within their role, their performance will be higher. As a leader, you need to challenge your employees. One way to do this is to set up a bi-weekly mentoring program, distribute books, start a book club…anything that may help shape an employee’s overall company experience and allow them to think differently. Nurturing these “soft” skills is one of the most prevalent ways in closing the lapses in an employee’s development.

Having talented managers dedicate time for employees to work with them results in higher employee engagement. If a company can double the rate of engagement for its employees, they will see an average of 147% higher earnings per share than their competition. People learn what to do by following good leadership, so boost their performance by challenging them and sharing your knowledge.

Motivation

If someone has the opportunity to expand their knowledge for their personal career development, while simultaneously working for a company they are passionate about, their motivation is going to be high (which increases performance). Therefore, you may want to think about implementing a 90-10 policy, or something similar, where employees have the opportunity to spend an allotted amount of time (in this case 10 percent of a work week versus 90 percent of the time dedicated to their usual work) to learn or develop a new skill.

Years ahead of its time, Google recognized this initiative with their “20% time” policy, which allowed employees to work on passion projects during the workweek. For smaller companies, it’s probably better to start with allocated times where your employees have this opportunity–say every Thursday or Friday from 11am-noon.

This is an opportunity that will impact your company today, and be useful for the employee’s career in the future. It not only provides motivation for employees to improve their skillsets, it also keeps motivation high by allowing employees to switch gears if they hit a roadblock in their usual work. 

Lastly, don’t just allot this time for your employees, encourage them to use it to read a book or step away from their regularly scheduled programming.

Company Brand

For any company, building a strong employee brand is hugely important when trying to attract top talent. If your employees love your company, it will become stronger and you will organically attract more good employees. If you treat your employees well, your brand will develop a stronger reputation and if you treat them poorly, the reputation will sink. Websites like Glassdoor have made it all too easy for employees to report on their past (or current) employers, so make sure they’re thriving.

If you have a positive and nurturing working environment, you will see the benefits that result from this, such as maintaining talent, attracting future quality employees and ultimately reducing talent acquisition and churn costs. So, don’t be afraid to encourage your happy employees to leave a Glassdoor review to get this snowball effect started.

In general professional development comes down to knowing your employee and understanding their personal and professional goals.  If a company knows what motivates each employee, as well as what learning, working, and collaborating conditions will allow them to perform to their peak potential, then they have created that “home” environment which will hold onto that top talent for a long time.

By Jillian Rinehimer

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