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Providing Development Opportunities to Boost Retention and Engagement

It’s a dangerous disconnect.

  • 92% of respondents, representing all age groups, think having access to professional development is important or very important (BetterBuys)
  • 74% of all workers in a study with 4,300 people reported that they weren’t achieving their full potential at work due to a lack of development opportunities. (Middlesex University for Work Based Learning)

A majority of employees strongly believe that it’s important for them to have access to professional development. But, a majority also feel they aren’t getting those development opportunities.

That’s a problem.


Are Your Employees Developing to Achieve Their Full Potential?

Notice the data point at the top of this article. It specifically points out that the desire for development is shared by all age groups. All employee groups want more opportunities for development.

There’s a tendency to blame millennials for this increased demand for development. So let’s look at what millennials have to say about it.

About Millennials: 

  • 87% of millennials say professional development or career growth opportunities are very important (Gallup)
  • Millennials’ top three work-related fears: getting stuck with no development opportunities, not being able to realize their career goals, and not finding a job that matches their personality (Universum)

Now, take those same findings and cross-apply them to all employees. These sentiments are not unique to any one age group. Assuming that will only give you an unfounded excuse to deny employees the development opportunities they are seeking.

When you deny your employees the chance to develop, you’re also denying your organization the opportunity to grow.

To build the business, you have to build the people in it. You can’t rely on other companies to build people that you’ll hire away someday. This issue is so widespread that employees everywhere are not developing to their full potential. Your only choice is to build from within.

When you offer development opportunities, you’ll expand the confidence, competence, and capacity of your employees. You’ll also increase their engagement level, a huge factor in improved business results.

The Links between Development and Employee Engagement

Still need a little convincing? Here are five more reasons why you should invest in employee development.

  • 68% of employees say their managers aren't actively engaged in their career development (Right Management)
  • Top reasons given by employees for leaving their jobs: career development (22%), work-life balance (12%), managers' behavior (11%), compensation and benefits (9%) and wellbeing (9%) (Work Institute)
  • 61% of workers said their employers are providing upskilling opportunities in the technical and soft skills of the future, only 50% said their employers provide career development opportunities that meet their needs and chances for advancement (APA)
  • 12% of employees feel their employers aid them in their career development (Bridge)
  • Top reasons why job seekers will leave for another job: more compensation (61%), location (42%), better work-life balance (40%), health benefits (36%), growth opportunities (35%), company culture (21%) and leadership (15%) (Jobvite)

You have an opportunity to be an employer of choice and talent magnet if you outpace the competition in offering employee development. You’ll retain employees, too, giving you stronger bench strength and an ability to promote from within.

Providing Development Opportunities

Next Steps for Increasing Opportunities for Employee Development  

Here are seven ways you can get started. Offering employees the opportunity to grow and stretch themselves may be easier than you think.

  1. Make learning a part of the employee experience and workplace culture.
  2. Recognize, affirm and value an interest in learning and career development.
  3. Make managers responsible for ongoing reinforcement of training.
  4. Position leaders (at every level) to be mentors for others.
  5. Offer informal development opportunities.
  6. Provide stretch assignments and cross-functional team projects.
  7. Delegate for development (not just for shuffling the workload).

People First Productivity Solutions can help you design and implement these changes in a way that makes sense for your organization. For over 14 years, we’ve been building organizational strength by putting PEOPLE first.