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Investing in employee professional development is a smart strategy for businesses. It takes time, effort, and money to attract talent to your organization, so offering learning opportunities to employees can help you retain them.
According to Edward Fleischman, Founder and CEO of The Execu|Search Group in a recent Forbes article, “If you don’t offer learning and growth opportunities, your employees will take their professional development into their own hands by seeking employers who do. Professional development is something you need to start taking seriously.”
Invest in Employees To Protect Your Bottom Line
When a company spends money on professional development, it shows employees they are valued. This creates loyalty from current employees and helps with recruiting new ones. After all, your employees are your best assets to provide reviews about what it is like to work for your organization.
Encouraging loyalty with professional learning opportunities also improves employee retention – which is a cost savings for your business. According to Employee Benefit News (EBN) it can cost employers up to 33% of a worker’s annual salary to hire a replacement if that employee leaves. For example, if your employee is making an annual salary of $45,000 a year, it will cost your business approximately $15,000 to search and ultimately hire a new employee to take their place.
A study conducted by Work Institute, an HR consulting firm, stated the number one reason employees gave for leaving the company in their exit interviews was career development. Today’s employee expects professional development opportunities within a company and will leave if they are not offered.
Use Professional Development Conferences or Workshops
Not everyone has the skills necessary to succeed in the different facets of their job. Attending conferences or workshops that build on perceived weaknesses helps employees feel more confident. Technical or 'hard' skills are necessary to develop for better job performance. 'Soft' skill development, however, can be just as useful in the workplace.
Recently, I had the opportunity to attend an annual conference designed specifically to help women navigate the roadblocks they experience in the workplace. This type of experience is especially helpful for those in traditionally male-dominated industries.
The Women in Consumer and Commercial Finance conference, hosted by InsideArm at the beginning of December, afforded me the opportunity to work on my interpersonal skills. As a remote worker and a self-professed introvert, I would not normally have the chance to do so during standard industry conferences.
I attended several workshop sessions that focused on communication skills. One titled “Bridging the Generational Divide” focused on differences between the five generations (Traditionalists, Boomers, Gen Xers, Millennials, Gen Z) with a focus on recognizing and breaking down the barriers that cause communication difficulties in the office.
A second workshop titled “Bravery Over Perfection” divided us into small groups so we could share situations in which we didn’t speak up or communicate a need, idea or opinion when we wished we would have. As a group, we went over each person’s scenario and talked about the underlying reason or fear for not speaking up (and what could have happened if we had).
The workshops and speakers at this conference focused on personal professional development instead of skill-building in a certain area of business. However, it did so while still providing opportunities to network and develop meaningful relationships with professionals in the financial services industry.
Benefits of Soft Skills Training
Both types of conferences are important, but allowing employees to build soft skills such as networking, teamwork and creative thinking have long term value to an organization. Providing opportunities to attend these types of conferences or workshops can result in a significant ROI not only in sales but can benefit your company in other ways. In fact, a research study completed in 2017 by Harvard University, Boston College and University of Michigan found that soft skill investment delivered a 256% ROI due to an increase in productivity.
Improves Employee Performance and Productivity
With improvements in soft skill gaps, employees can manage their time more efficiently and more easily communicate and collaborate with co-workers. This, in turn, increases productivity across the spectrum of their responsibilities. With better communication between team members, your employees can work toward common goals more effectively and avoid the tensions that may arise if staff doesn’t feel comfortable communicating with co-workers or supervisors.
Happy Employees Provide Better Customer Service
Employees who work on their listening and communication skills will provide better customer service. With active listening skills, sales reps can better understand the needs of their prospects and appropriately position product offerings to meet those needs. An investment in an employee also boosts their self-confidence and feelings of good will toward the company, improving employee retention.
Create a Positive Company Culture
Investing in your staff’s professional development with an emphasis on soft skill training will help foster positive company culture and make your organization a place they look forward to going to each day. For remote workers, it can assist them in feeling valued and connected to the organization. This creates a culture of positivity internally with your employees and externally to your customers, prospects and future employees.
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- ABOUT THE AUTHOR -
Dawn Updike, Marketing Manager
Dawn Updike is a Marketing Manager at PDCflow. She has a background in Customer Success and has worked in the SaaS industry for over ten years.