The Importance of Employee Development in Your Business

An entrepreneur explaining a concept to his employees

Employee training and development is a broad term that is used to describe the various learning practices and programmes that your workers undertake. Taking on a wide array of forms, they are designed to enhance the ability and potential of your employees as they acquire new knowledge and skills for the future.  

However, within their HR strategies, many organisations are guilty of overlooking their worth. This is counter-productive, as given the lengthy process that is required to recruit and hire qualified staff, why should the emphasis on nurturing employees stop there?

Through training and development, businesses focus on improving their own assets, as well as helping to engage and retain employees. It's necessary for growth and encourages greater innovation in the long term.

Therefore, the importance of employee development should not be overlooked. To prove why, and to illustrate the further benefits of staff development, we've outlined the key advantages of implementing such a programme in the workplace.

It Aids in the Hiring Process

Staff development programmes are becoming so popular that they are now even advertised as a competitive advantage during the hiring process. 

This is because professional growth and development is now vital to employees. Many individuals factor it in when weighing up potential openings, and, as such, providing training and development programmes as part of your hiring package gives your business a competitive edge. This, in turn, helps to attract stronger candidates, shortening the hiring process and ensuring that open vacancies are filled with the best talent. 

Once you've made a hire, it's essential to commit to a positive investment in their career. While training and continued education opportunities are preferable, even something as simple as offering conferences, seminars or even a book allowance are attractive incentives for potential employees who want to develop themselves. 

It Helps to Retain Employees 

Hiring and retention are two of the biggest challenges for many employers, with high turnover proving costly and frustrating, as well as reflecting poorly on an organisation. Through employee training and development, though, this can be avoided. 

Offering training programmes for employees demonstrates that you value them, which helps to foster loyalty and, as a result, staff retention. Indeed, a 2017 Gallup report found that businesses with an engaged workforce achieved a 59% reduction in staff turnover rate and a 41% drop in absenteeism. This means that, by taking employee development seriously, you are better meeting today's working realities, as well as the mindset of your people.  

It Forces You to Think About the Future 

Employee development is an evolving concept, forcing you to think ahead and plan for the future. You need to stay relevant and possibly even shift your development offerings to ensure that they accurately reflect workplace changes. 

When preparing for the future, ask yourself the following questions: 

  • What kind of leadership qualities do I need to promote to cultivate a progressive workforce?
  • What will my customers require from my employees? 
  • What industry changes can I expect and anticipate? 

If you want to implement a successful employee development plan, then you need to stay on your toes and think ahead – especially if you want your business to remain relevant. Conducting a PESTLE analysis alongside a SWOT analysis can help with answering some of these questions.

It Trains Future Leaders 

As touched upon in the previous point, implementing an employee development programme shows that your organisation is aware of its future goals. By preparing your greatest asset – your workforce – for future leadership, you are demonstrating that your business is committed to keeping up with workplace demands, and that you are equipped for growth and change. Since your employees are fundamental to these evolutions, their training and development cannot be ignored. 

You can assess your current workforce to determine which employees have what it takes to become managerial candidates, and work with them. Establishing leadership development programmes shows that your business is committed to its future goals, while preparing promotable talent ensures that your teams are agile and able to evolve in a rapidly-changing environment. 

It Empowers Employees 

Employees who feel empowered in the workplace are generally more committed to the organisation they are working for, which increases their job satisfaction and their performance. 

Those who acquire new skills and learning will feel a greater sense of confidence, value and autonomy within their work, too, which will enable them to operate much more effectively. They will develop a sense of pride when they feel that you are investing time and resources into training them, which is essential for locating their optimal performance level. 

While feeling empowered doesn't always lead to an increase in routine task performance, they are more motivated, creative and engaged on the whole.

It Enhances Workplace Productivity 

Energetic, talented individuals always want to advance and develop their careers, but they can't do this in a stagnant workplace. While weak productivity stunts growth, this can be avoided by creating a strengths-based workforce.

By providing training, mentoring and coaching, workplace growth will improve, and productivity will be maximised. Employees will feel enthusiastic about the organisation they work for, as well as their job role, and will be much more likely to perform to a higher standard. 

They will also want to become more versatile and valuable in the workplace and will have no reason to look for new employment when their career development is so palpable and evident. 

It Increases Workplace Engagement 

If employees feel bored in the workplace, then this can lead to feelings of dissatisfaction and the introduction of poor working habits. Your staff will be more likely to adopt negative attitudes and outlooks, which can then damage relationships with other employees and customers. 

Implementing staff development programmes that are interesting, fun and challenging will reduce this idleness and encourage employees to push themselves further. This will also allow for regular re-evaluation of employees, skills and processes, and will help to influence your company's culture more positively.

It Saves You Time and Earns You Money 

Staff development should never be viewed as an expense but as an investment. Whether you hire externally or use personnel from within, when you offer employee development programmes, your staff are much more likely to increase sales and profits for the company. 

Efficient and proficient employees are cost-effective while also having the potential to increase your bottom line. After all, a highly trained, confident and committed employee is a long-term asset who is going to perform better for the company not just in the short term, but well into the future, too. 

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Your workplace needs to provide employees with a supportive environment that offers robust and constant learning opportunities, and by providing training programmes that enable staff to make the most of their talents, you can better attract, engage and retain employees.

Do you agree? Or are employee training and development programmes a waste of company time and resources? Either way, let us know your thoughts in the comment section below!