Candidates are looking to work at companies that invest in their professional future. Professional development is not only a great way to attract talent but benefits your company long-term.
According to Execu|Search’s 2020 Hiring Outlook, 84% of professionals would change jobs if they were offered more opportunities for professional development. 94% of employees will stay in a company longer if it invests in their career, according to Linkedin. People are taking the future of their careers seriously, and if their current employer isn’t on the same page, they’ll seek a company that is.
Why you need professional development
The numbers show that employees want good career development, but employee satisfaction is not the only benefit. When professional development is in place, your workforce grows stronger. Companies with good professional development have lower turnover and greater productivity.
It will also pave the way for strong internal recruiting and promotion. Internal recruits cost less, stay longer, and perform better. That makes sense: they already know your company, fit with your culture, and maybe more loyal than external recruits.
Professional development is also a top solution for the skill gap. Instead of just fighting for the few qualified candidates that already have 100% of skills needed, companies should shift their focus to upskilling their workforce. Younger employees, especially the burgeoning Gen Z workforce, are generally self-learners, flexible, and want to wear multiple hats in the workplace. They are ready to take skill development into their own hands with assists from the professional development program.
Cross-department training can also create a more flexible workforce. Increase horizontal communication and skill exchanges between departments, and you may uncover new solutions to existing problems, and increase productivity across the board.
How is your professional development, really?
Employers seem to think they are providing adequate professional development, but there is a big disconnect with their workers. 75% of employers say they are providing development opportunities, but 63% of professionals disagree.
Without an effective professional development program, you risk reduced productivity and employee satisfaction, losing your talent, and creating an inflexible workforce.
So what makes a good professional development program? While the answer will vary on a case-by-case basis, your foundation needs to include communication, recognition, and variety.
Good communication means giving and receiving feedback, and not just during a yearly review. Professionals need feedback to grow and improve, and the same goes for managers and higher-ups. A workplace with good communication will allow employees to ask for opportunities they are interested in, whether a conference, training, or promotions. Speaking of promotions — since internal recruiting is better for retention and performance, be transparent about internal career paths and what a candidate will need to qualify. Then, help them along the way.
Recognition and rewards are an essential part of professional development because an employee deserves recognition for improving their performance and skills. Recognition is motivating — make your workforce want to grow with you, and they will.
Which brings us to variety. Professional development is not one-size-fits-all. Not everyone learns the same or needs the same skill development. By giving your employees options, they can choose what they really need, and you’ll round out the skills of your workforce.
Given the glaring disconnect between employer and employee perception of professional development, now is the time to evaluate what you have in place. Does your workforce know about the opportunities you have? Are their barriers to accessing those opportunities? And if you don’t have much in the way of professional development, now is the time to start.