6 Reasons to Invest in Employee Development and Career Pathways

Posted by Emma Rose Gallimore on September 4, 2019

Businesses succeed or fail on the strength of their investments. Ideally, your investments don't just solve an immediate problem. The best ones have a positive and lasting effect on the success of your business. Out of all the investments you can make - in technology, equipment, buildings, infrastructure - one of the most impactful is employee development.

When you train employees and develop career pathways for them, you don't just upskill your workforce, you build a bright future for your business. Here are six reasons to invest in employee development and career pathways for your middle-skill talent.

1. Access and attract talent

Filling middle-skills positions is a major challenge for the majority of HR executives. In fact, 69% say their inability to attract and retain middle-skills talent frequently affects their company's performance. Under these conditions, offering benefits that attract talent is just smart business.

What applicants want, is development opportunities. About 59% of millennials say opportunities to learn and grow are extremely important to them when applying for a job. Let potential applicants know that they can depend on you for access to essential training and they won't have to pay out of their own pockets to build skills.

When you add training and development to your new hire benefits, the job instantly becomes more attractive. Your business reaps additional benefits. When you provide an apprenticeship program, well-planned onboarding, or immediate access to tuition assistance, you get new hires who can quickly improve their skills to meet job demands.

2. Retain your best employees

When you offer employee development programs and career pathways, you show that your business is invested in employee success. Employees are more likely to stay where they feel valued.

The idea that training helps you keep employees longer isn't just a logical argument, employee testimony confirms that it's true. According to a LinkedIn survey, 94% of employees said they would stay at a company longer if the company invested in the employee's career.

When you create career pathways, you encourage employees to stay with the company while still advancing their careers. Career pathways can prepare employees for more responsible positions, or enable lateral transfers so employees stay challenged and engaged in their work.

3. Keep employees engaged

Keeping employees engaged isn't just good for morale, it has a direct effect on your bottom line. Over decades of research, Gallup has found that organizations with higher employee engagement perform at a higher level. Engagement improves retention, productivity and profitability. Businesses with engaged employees see lower turnover, fewer safety incidents and fewer quality defects.

Mobile learning is an effective way to boost employee engagement. With the next lesson no further away than a mobile device, working learners can learn essential skills in bite-size lessons. With each lesson, they get immediate feedback. Something that many employees say they crave.

As important as the skills working learners develop, is the message that learning and development programs convey. When you train and develop employees you show them that you're planning for the future and that you want the employee to be a part of that future.

4. Increase productivity

IBM's The Value of Training report found that 84 percent of employees in best-performing organizations are receiving the training they need, compared to 16 percent in the worst-performing companies. Every new employee has a learning curve. They have to acclimate to the job and learn basic skills. William G. Bliss calculated that the average new hire can take around six months to become fully productive. During that time, employers lose revenue due to decreased productivity.

Minimizing the time it takes for new hires to reach full productivity saves money. Productivity benefits also extend to long-term employees. As employees continuously learn and grow, they discover tools and strategies that increase productivity and efficiency.

5. Fill the skills gap

The size and shape of the skills gap is different across industries. Allied healthcare, manufacturing, and the skilled trades are particularly hard hit as technology revolutionizes these industries. Although each industry requires different skills and aptitudes, some are universal.

Training for soft skills is the number one talent development priority identified by executives, managers, and talent developers. The three most important skills are leadership, communication and collaboration. Role specific skills come in fourth in terms of importance. By training workers in soft skills, you help fill the most glaring skills gap across all industries - the soft skills gap.

When employees know how to lead, communicate and collaborate they can tackle almost any challenge the job throws at them. It's no wonder that executives say the most important area of focus for L&D in 2018 was "How to train for soft skills."

6. Develop a talent pipeline

In addition to filling the skills gaps you have now, training and development also helps prevent future skills gaps. When you have a strong development plan, you don't have to depend on the job market or post-secondary institutions to provide the workers you need. New applicants can quickly be upskilled to meet demand. At the same time, every one of your employees becomes a working learner, ready to take on the next challenge.

A smart investment

Invest in equipment or technology and depreciation begins immediately. But a strong career development pipeline becomes more valuable with every passing year. Your employees become happier, more skilled and better able to meet changing demands. This positive and growth-oriented atmosphere attracts even more enthusiastic employees ready to learn. The long term return on investment is almost impossible to calculate as the effects ripple out through your workforce.

Customize an employee development plan for your workers with support from Penn Foster.

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