Research carried out by financial services firm the MPA Group has found that a quarter of office workers invest no time at all in professional development and learning new skills. For some that will be a personal choice, but for many more, it will be because their company simply doesn’t give them the time or opportunity to learn.
The report found that 30% of workplaces surveyed didn’t offer employees a chance to learn new skills which would help them in their professional lives, with 9% of workers saying it had been more than five years since they spent any time on career development. With all the challenges facing businesses in the UK, it might be worth asking yourself if your organization could be offering more to its employees. Here are just a few reasons why you need to review your employee development initiatives.
Higher Levels of Engagement
Giving staff development opportunities during office hours can boost levels of engagement. People can become demoralized and ‘switch off’ if they don’t feel there’s enough variety in their day, and if they don’t feel they’re being mentally stretched. Offering them a chance to do something outside the normal routine can have a re-energizing effect, meaning they’ll return to work with more motivation.
Higher Levels of Staff Retention
People these days are far more likely to ‘job hop’ than in the past, particularly younger members of the workforce. People switch jobs for any number of reasons, but most of the time it will be because their company simply isn’t giving them enough of an incentive to stay. If there are no signs of career progression or their engagement levels are low, staff are inevitably going to start looking elsewhere and that can lead to higher turnover rates in your organization. If there are development opportunities then there’s also the promise that they could climb the career ladder, and that means they’ll be more inclined to stick it out.
Better for In-House Recruitment
Recruitment drives can be a costly and time-consuming exercise, but training staff in-house means you can probably find a suitable candidate within your existing workforce. If a vacancy arises and there’s already a wide, in-house talent pool to choose from, then you can save yourselves a lot of hassle. Even if they’re not quite the ‘finished article’, there’s still scope to train them on the job by offering further development opportunities.
A Higher Skilled Workforce
Who doesn’t want a workforce which is better skilled? Offering people the chance to pick up new skills and learn on the job ensures you have a more agile and flexible workforce. By diversifying their skillset, you ensure that there’s always someone who can step into a new role or cover when other team members are off sick. If they’re trained in things beyond the usual scope of their position then that knowledge will probably come in handy at some point.
Long-term Cost Efficiencies
According to the MPA research, more than half of companies (52%) said a lack of budget was the main constraint when it came to up-skilling employees. Diverting staff away from their usual work and sending them on expensive training programs was seen to be too much of a financial pressure on businesses, yet there’s some evidence that it can prove cost-effective in the longer-term. Many businesses would qualify under the government’s Research and Development Tax Credit initiative, which could mean they’d recoup up to 33% of the money they invested into development. As employees are often named as the number one asset a company has, it makes sense to invest in them for the long-term health of the organization.
If the MPA statistics are to be believed, then by offering training opportunities you could gain a competitive advantage on every level. If so few organizations are giving their staff the chance to develop new skills and grow professionally, then your company could start to look like a more attractive prospect to those on the outside. It also goes without saying that if you up-skill your workforce, they will be better at what they do, be more productive and produce work of a higher standard.
While there are costs to offering more professional development to employees, your organization could reap the rewards in greater levels of engagement and a happier, more productive workforce. People like to feel they’re valued by their company and given the time, space and guidance to flourish in their working lives, so now might be a good time to think about offering them more.
About the author: Lizzie Exton writes for Inspiring Interns, which specializes in sourcing candidates for internships. To browse our graduate jobs London listings, visit our website.