The Importance of Learning and Development Opportunities blog

The Importance of Learning and Development Opportunities

In today’s business world, employees want more than a stable paycheck and decent living–they want fulfilling careers. That’s about more than money: People want to learn new skills and to understand how their work contributes to the company’s success.

Not only that, but the average millennial employee plans to stay at their job for less than three years, according to the Future Workplace. This short tenure is a signal that employees don’t feel like they’re getting what they need at the organizations where they work.

Enter learning and development. Established training programs give employees insights into their strengths, weaknesses, and goals, as well as actionable plans for improving skills and making more of an impact at work.

Ultimately, offering learning and development opportunities expands the knowledge base and skills of your people increases retention and is attractive to incoming hires. Here’s why today’s businesses are investing in learning and development programs for their teams:

Trained Employees Are Better Employees

Some leaders may be unsure about investing in training and education. After all, it’s difficult to measure success and it’s a softer addition to the employee benefits package. But ultimately, training employees isn’t just for your team and their careers– it’s also for your organization. Part of being a great leader is viewing organizational learning and development opportunities as a way to improve performance and motivate your workforce. 

The old business joke seems apt:

Two leaders are talking about sending their employees to an expensive training. One asks, “What if we train them, and they just leave?” The other responds, “What if we don't train them, and they stay?”

The joke makes an excellent point. Investing in learning and development opportunities for your employees is a smart business decision. After all, you want your business to be staffed with the best and brightest. You want your staff to be good at what they do. If you don’t offer training opportunities, you rob those employees– and your business–of their potential.

Learning Opportunities Can Help Improve Retention

Employees want and need to learn as they progress in their careers. Take, for example, that 87% of millennials believe development and career growth is important in a job, according to Gallup. When employees (particularly millennials) are satisfied with the career development options that are available to them, they’re more likely to stay with their employer, according to the report.

If employees feel that they’re challenged, growing, and constantly learning, they’ll be less likely to get bored or stuck. Providing opportunities for learning is a good way to keep current employees with your company for a longer time.

Training Has a Big Impact on Business

According to Harvard Business Review, “Work groups in which employees report that their supervisor (or someone else at work) cares about them as a person, talks to them about their career progress, encourages their development, and provides opportunities to learn and grow have lower turnover, higher sales growth, better productivity, and better customer loyalty than work groups in which employees report that these developmental elements are scarce.”

Based on these results, you’d think that companies everywhere would be offering training, growth and learning opportunities to increase employee retention. Even so, opportunities to advance learning aren’t always there.

This could be because many organizations don’t understand the effect of their training programs. McKinsey research found that only 50% of organizations keep track of participants’ feedback about training programs. If you don’t record feedback from your educational programs, then you won’t see its impact on your business.

A Few Tips for Developing Learning and Development Programs

If you’re investing in a training program, you want to make sure you do it right. Here are a few tips to keep in mind as you implement educational programs:

  • Understand what your employees want. Before launching programming, make sure you have a good understanding of where your employees want to grow. Without their input, you might not provide the learning and development opportunities they want.
  • Consider digital training programs. With today’s technology, training doesn’t have to be in person. There are online options available that can scale for your whole team and allow you to provide learning and development opportunities on-demand.
  • Create a system of measurement. As mentioned earlier, 50% of organizations don’t bother to keep track of their employees take on training options. If you don’t ask your employees what they think, how can you know if your programming is successful?
  • Dip your toes in first. Rather than introducing training to your entire organization, experiment. Implement a small program, perhaps one that is just for your leadership team, to see results before scaling it to the rest of your company. To create a positive workplace culture that fosters professional development, you need to refine the process. You can finetune workshops and training with a small, trusted group before providing access to the entire office.

This post is part of a special blog series on ‘Get Fully Staffed: Finding and Keeping Great People' in support of ProService’s Growth Series event. Offered exclusively to ProService clients and special guests, the Growth Series are interactive learning experiences that feature industry-leading speakers and networking opportunities that will inspire and provide tools for business leaders to take their organizations to the next level. 

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