Many employers are finally beginning to understand that employee development is essential to keeping workers engaged, developing an internal talent pipeline, and retaining top talent.
The research backs it up. In a Deloitte survey of millennials, 63% said their leadership skills were not being fully developed, and 71% of employees likely to leave in the next two years are dissatisfied with how their leadership skills are being developed. Those numbers continue to rise.
These statistics alone show that not investing in employee development can hurt a company—and often it can be hard to get buy-in to allocate time and money to robust employee development programs.
Here are 5 ways that employee development can benefit your organization, now and in the future.
5 Reasons to Invest in Employee Development
1. It helps attract great employees.
In the modern workplace, employees are looking for more than a transactional relationship at work, especially as “work” has in many cases now spilled into “home.” They want to feel as though they are more than just a labor resource for a company. In fact, 82% of employees want their organizations to view them as people with individual goals and aspirations and not just as resources (Gartner).
When a job seeker sees that a company invests in employee development, they know that the company is much more likely to value them and wants to see them grow both professionally and personally. According to the University of Phoenix Career Institute’s 2022 Career Optimism Index, 68% of respondents say they would be more likely to stay with their current employer if more upskilling opportunities were provided.
Plus, job seekers who want to be developed are good candidates for open roles because they demonstrate the desire to grow their skills, and in turn, help the company succeed.
2. It keeps employees engaged.
A 2023 Gallup study found that nearly 70% of U.S. employees are disengaged at work.
Disengaged employees are less productive and are more prone to burnout. They don’t feel a sense of connection or loyalty to their workplace and are more likely to leave. With more remote work that blurs the lines between work and home, and the potential lack of comradery that office environments typically offer, burnout and disengagement are continuing to rise.
Investing in employee development creates opportunities for employees to feel excited about learning and growing. It also builds opportunities for employees to form greater connections with one another by practicing new skills together.
3. It is an investment that pays off in the long run.
Companies may be hesitant to make an investment in employee development as the returns are not always instantaneous. Providing pathways for employee development, however, pays off greatly in the long run.
The most noticeable return is increased employee retention. LinkedIn’s Workforce Learning Report states that 93% of employees would stay at a company longer if it invested in their careers, and a study by SHRM found that the average cost of losing an employee can be 6 to 9 months of their salary.
Even one employee sticking around because a company offers employee development makes it worthwhile. Imagine the return on investment if the majority of the workforce stays with the company over the course of years.
4. It creates promotable employees and strengthens the internal talent pipeline.
Beyond simply keeping employees at the company, investing in employee development creates a clear path for employees to have upward mobility.
Building a robust internal talent pipeline, as opposed to always looking outside the organization to hire more senior level employees, provides many benefits. Employees who’ve already been with the company know the ins-and-outs reducing ramp-up time, and already have a sense of loyalty.
5. It helps your organization be future-ready.
As we continue to grapple with the effects of the pandemic, it’s obvious there were many traditional, outdated workplace practices that needed to evolve. What we thought we knew about how employees can and like to work is changing, with adaptability being a crucial factor in creating a more resilient workforce.
LinkedIn’s Global Talent Trends 2019 report found that 92% of talent professionals said soft skills are equally or more important to hire for than hard skills. And 89% said that when a new hire doesn’t work out, it’s because they lack critical soft skills. Investing in employee development is more than just upskilling employees with technical skills. A focus on soft skills such as effective communication, adaptability, and more helps to prime employees for whatever changes come their way.
It’s easy to get caught up in performing and managing the day-to-day operations of a business, but employee development needs to be a part of every modern organization’s business strategy.