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How professional development keeps employees engaged

3 min read

How professional development keeps employees engaged

Professional development is a core way to keep employees engaged and growing within your company. Here's how.

If you want to retain your top performing employees you have to do something counterintuitive—prepare them to leave.

Giving people the opportunity to learn and grow at work is key to long-term engagement. And it's only getting more important; 87 percent of millennials stated that development opportunities were important to them in choosing an employer, compared to 69 percent of non-millennials.

Unfortunately, barely one third of millennials reported having a growth opportunity in the last 30 days.

This article takes a look at three reasons why leaders don't provide learning opportunities. Taylor Burke of TechnologyAdvice debunks these myths and evaluates what really happens if you prioritize professional development.

The Myth: Professional development takes away from work time
The Reality: Not so much

For a long time, professional development has required long training sessions—sometimes multiple days, with travel—that interrupt work and projects. That’s no longer the case. Learning management systems (LMS) are software programs that make development digital and individualized. They can be seamlessly added to your daily routine.

A LMS is useful for disseminating and tracking the completion of required training (like HR, compliance, and so on), and allows team members to focus on individual goals. Employees have a personalized dashboard in the LMS that reports their progress and offers ideas for what to focus on next. They can use the tool during natural downtime or set aside specific learning hours during their work day that complements their tasks and objectives.

The Myth: Employees say they want professional development, but they don’t use it
The Reality: This may be true, but you may not be doing it correctly

You’ve probably been to at least one training session in which the whole audience looks like a ninth grade classroom when a substitute teacher comes to visit—totally disengaged, maybe even nodding off.

It’s not surprising. When you have one trainer attempting to deliver one topic to an entire audience with nothing but a PowerPoint presentation, of course you’ll have disinterested parties.

Everyone has a different learning style and interest—the one-size-fits-all approach simply doesn’t work. Again, a LMS, even in combination with in-person training, will allow employees to choose their own development path. They can learn in the way that best suits them and study topics that are of individual interest.

The Myth: If I give my employees too much training, they’ll get a job elsewhere
The Reality: It’s actually the opposite

Engaged employees are loyal employees. As discussed, one of the factors that makes employees most engaged at work is the opportunity to learn and grow. When you provide these opportunities, you provide people with one more reason to stay. In fact, exiting employees often report a lack of opportunity to develop as the second biggest reason they took a position elsewhere.

Beyond keeping employees engaged, providing development opportunities helps you to build a powerful in-house talent pipeline that can cross departments. Growth tracks are traditionally thought of as linear, but you may have IT talent hanging out in your marketing department or future HR leaders in your customer success team.

By providing personalized learning that employees choose, you allow individuals to self-identify opportunities. And because external hires are costly to onboard, you’ll be saving money by promoting from within.

No excuses

Employee development is the definition of a win-win: your employees are happy and engaged, and you have a more skilled workforce and stronger promotion pipeline. So, put the myths and excuses aside and start thinking of ways you can help your employees grow.

About the author

Taylor Burke is a contributor for TechnologyAdvice.com, covering internal communications. When she’s not in front of her screen, you can find Taylor reading, cooking, running, or hanging with her dog—but rarely all four at once.

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