With the cost-of-living crisis looming over everyone’s heads, businesses are cutting back more than ever. One of the first things to find itself on the chopping block is professional development training.
But this cost-cutting measure can have major drawbacks.
If you’re not offering learning and development opportunities, your people might take things into their own hands and seek an employer who does.
Professional development doesn’t have to be role-specific either. Lifelong skills like communication or collaboration can increase your return on investment exponentially as you’ll see the effects of them well into the future.
If you’re considering professional development for your team, here’s our top ten reasons why we think it’s the right path to take:
Organisations that invest in development opportunities are more attractive to job seekers
The right talent can be hard to come by in today’s job market. Employers are trying an increasing number of tactics to attract more candidates, from streamlining the hiring process to personalising job offers.
Aside from great company culture, one great way to increase your candidate attraction is offering development opportunities.
Investing in learning and development can not only grow your existing team’s skills but can also entice new talent looking for an organisation that values its people.
Incorporating clear learning and development plans into every stage of your recruitment strategy also attracts talent who are motivated to learn and pursue excellence.
People retention is higher when you offer professional development
We already know it can be hard to find talented employees, but it’s just as challenging to retain them. With so many open jobs, employers need to work harder to keep their staff onboard.
Retention isn’t just important for company culture, it’s also vital to your budget. According to Oxford Economics and Unum, replacing an employee who earns over £25,00 a year will cost your business around £30,000.
If you’re losing engagement from your people, they may not feel challenged or believe that you as an employer believe in their success. As a result, they might go elsewhere leaving you to try and fill the gap.
Providing professional development opportunities shows that you’re interested in cultivating advancement and want your people to achieve their potential. In fact, a report by LinkedIn Learning showed that 94% of employees would stay at a company longer if there was investment in their professional development.
Continuous education builds confidence
When people don’t feel confident in their abilities, they won’t perform at their peak.
The 2021 Skills Index report by City & Guilds Group found that 61% of working age adults in the UK aren’t confident that they have the skills needed for the next 5 years in their roles.
The report shows that a lack of interest in professional development isn’t a recent phenomenon. Their data suggests that there has been a chronic underinvestment in learning opportunities for several years, with 30% of employees reporting they’ve not received formal workplace training since 2016.
So it’s not surprising that people are feeling disillusioned and unsatisfied in their jobs.
Aside from gaining additional skills or certifications, employees who undergo professional development will also be much more confident. They’ll also be more engaged and satisfied in their role, which will likely translate into positive results for your business.
Ongoing learning and development help to combat the skills shortage
The UK has been facing a skills shortage for many years now, with 66% of large businesses struggling to employ people with the skills they need. The Oxford Learning College estimates that up to 6.5 million people will be significantly underskilled for their jobs by 2030, which is not good news for businesses.
Skills shortages undermine business confidence and dramatically affect economic growth, so investing in learning and development is critical.
Workplace learning is also far preferable. Of those currently working, 23% found none of their qualifications to be most useful. In comparison, 83% of people who undertook formal workplace training found it beneficial for their current job, and 73% found it useful for their career aspirations.
Additionally, industry trends move quickly, so ongoing professional development gives your people the opportunity to keep their skills up to date and prevent you falling behind competitors.
Succession planning is easier because of professional development
Growing your own talent is far more profitable than endlessly searching for someone who ticks every single one of your requirements. There’s also much less risk involved as you know that the individual is a good fit for your business, so you don’t have to wait weeks or months to discover otherwise.
Planning for the future is critical as older generations begin to leave the workforce and younger employees fill their space. Giving younger employees the opportunity to learn and grow ensures they will be ready to take on these leadership positions and have what they need to succeed.
A good way to start closing the gap is to offer mentorship opportunities and have more experienced employees serve as role models and allow mentees to show leadership teams new ways to increase efficiency.
Knowing that promotions and career development are available options is also fantastic for retention.
Learning and development sessions offer opportunities to build your network and gain new perspectives
Professional development isn’t just for new employees – even more senior team members can greatly benefit from it.
Many training and development courses are the ideal place to mingle and connect with a variety of people. Interacting with and learning more about these people can provide you with a fresh perspective on how you could be doing things differently and help you better understand your industry.
By mixing with people outside of your business in a development setting, you might also start conversations that could spark new opportunities for your organisation.
While these partnerships may not present themselves immediately, establishing a connection with someone will help bring your name to mind if an opportunity arises later down the line.
Opportunities for your people to learn and grow leads to more satisfied customers
It goes without saying that learning opportunities will create a more knowledgeable individual, but how does that benefit everyone else?
Your team actively sharing what they’ve learnt is the key to maximising the value of professional development.
Take an interest in what new skills and insights they gained and maybe offer them to lead a meeting to share their takeaway. Not only will this help reinforce what they’ve learnt, but it will also improve the knowledge base of the rest of the team.
Strengthening the skills and knowledge of your team will also do wonders for your customer satisfaction, as your people will be better equipped to deal with more complex situations than previously.
Professional development leads to great productivity and ROI for your business
While continuous learning is still beneficial in the short-term, its real benefit is in the long game.
Over half of UK adults would consider changing jobs if they were offered more skills building opportunities, according to research.
The report by Skills Builder Partnership, in liaison with the CIPD, KMPG, and Edge Foundation, also showed that 51% of UK workers have missed out on soft skills building opportunities.
The cost of not providing such development equates to £22.2 billion a year. It’s no surprise then, that over two thirds of learning and development professionals in the UK agree that professional development has a positive impact on revenue.
By offering ongoing development opportunities, your people will become more productive and, as they are less likely to change jobs, your return on investment for training them will increase exponentially.
Professional development can lead to a greater sense of empathy
Research by the Center for Creative Leadership shows that to be successful today, leaders need to be more person-focused. This doesn’t just mean getting along with your desk neighbour, but also with people from varying departments, cultures, and backgrounds.
The key skill to achieving this, is empathy – the ability to understand and relate to the thoughts or feelings of others.
Investing in soft skills like communication and conflict resolution can increase empathy levels in your team leading to a more harmonious and effective workplace.
Learning and development impacts workplace culture
With industries evolving at rapid paces, it can be hard to have a competitive edge and stay ahead of the curve. That’s why you should be investing in your most important resource – your people.
Incorporating learning and development plans creates a workplace culture that nurtures curiosity, collaboration, and innovation.
The added benefit of improving your culture is that positive cultures are more likely to create brand advocates out of your employees, ultimately resulting in increased brand awareness and a better reputation.