Can You Afford NOT to Invest in Employee Development?

Most employees, especially your best employees, like new challenges and want to develop.  Still, for most organizations developing employees can be difficult.  Uncertain managers might hold employee development at arm’s length, often under the guise of not having time, tight budgets, or worst of all, a lack of interest in the employee’s career aspirations.  The tough message we share with prospective clients is that not investing in your employees will lead people to leave your company.

Fact: Employees who aren’t being developed will look for new jobs.

LinkedIn recently published its annual Global Talent Trends report. This year focused on the “reinvention of company culture”; a recognition that we are in a period of disruption regarding what it means to “attract, retain, and grow the talent that will bring sustained success”.  The top recommended area for companies?  Investing in professional development opportunities.  This scored higher than flexible work support and mental health and wellness. 

Employees are communicating, loudly, the risk of missed opportunities to learn and grow.  In 2021 Gallup published “The American Upskilling Study” and found that 48% of American workers would switch to a new job if offered skills training opportunities and 65% – almost two thirds – of workers believe employer-provided upskilling is very important when evaluating a potential new job.

Fact: Companies suffer without development.

It’s clear when development is missing employees will leave.  However, retention is not the only risk companies face:

  • Employee Engagement goes down.  Any Employee Engagement framework is at least partially measuring a willingness to extend discretionary effort.  Without development opportunities employees can get bored, which hurts overall engagement.  Not investing in development can therefore limit motivation to go above and beyond to support company goals.
  • Company culture stagnates.  This is particularly dangerous because declining company culture has short- and long-term impacts.  In the short-term, low engagement could lead to less collaboration and souring attitudes.  Think about workplaces that shift from being about making an impact to becoming just a job.  Long-term, companies lose top employees and might receive a poor reputation in the marketplace.
  • Creativity and innovation evaporate.  Declining engagement and stagnating culture can cause the organic elements of innovation – exercising creativity and the open exchange of ideas – to dry up.  Managers emphasizing the need to “first do your job, then think about development” is effectively dis-incentivizing behaviors that drive innovation.  Ultimately a less developed (and less skilled) team is also less creative, less able to respond      quickly to market changes, and less able to execute on new opportunities.

Fact: There is always time for development and the best development is experience.

I’ve never met a manager who is against development.  There is almost always positive intention and a desire to help.  The biggest hurdle is usually time, and occasionally money. 

  • Time is an easy excuse – development is important, but not urgent.  The common assumption is that you must do your work first, then you can focus on development.  Instead, think of work and development as together, not separate.  Savvy managers recognize the best development is experience, and the opportunity becomes finding projects or assignments that add value to the company and help team members build new skills.
  • Moneyis a challenge when employees are interested in expensive conferences or programs.  These opportunities are a good investment for top performers, but likely not an option for all employees.  A cheaper and more sustainable solution could be mentoring and on the job development (see above).  A 2019 study found that employees who have mentors are more satisfied in their role.  And being a mentor has been found to be an equally impactful development experience as being mentored.

Fact: CorTalent can help if you don’t know where to start.

At CorTalent we help clients get the people part right.  We are experts in employee development, from assessing individual employees to creating processes that develop talent throughout your organization. 

In today’s competitive talent market maintaining growth is nearly impossible without having a plan to attract, retain, and develop top talent.  Our consultants start each project by first reviewing your business goals, then create people plans which advance the growth of your company.  Curious to learn more?  Share your questions – we’d love to chat with you!

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