Learning and development isn’t recognized as an employee benefit the way we think about benefits, such as health insurance, life insurance, holiday time, vacation and sick time. But it should be.
Learning and development is an overlooked, indirect benefit.
Many studies have shown employees are interested in professional development to support their career growth. For organizations, a defined professional development program can attract new talent, increase employee engagement and improve employee retention.
For companies where employees are not satisfied with the learning and training opportunities provided, the likelihood of becoming disengaged in their work grows, and they may look for a job where career development is better supported.
Benefits Employees Want
In offering employee benefits, it’s important to recognize what employees need and want. That is, what will “speak” to each individual and resonate as a real benefit. Developing and supporting a culture of learning that provides resources and opportunities to choose professional development options creates an environment that supports employee success. Feeling confident in ones work and having the knowledge and skills to be successful on-the-job, speaks loudly to employees.
Organizations can support employees with targeted, individualized and easily accessible learning. There are many providers offering various learning opportunities that are free or low cost, including online programs, webinars, and university offerings. This learning can include exploration of personal interests or align to professional goals. Companies can promote learning by providing time to complete it, and by aligning it to an employee’s individual development plan and performance goals. This shows organizational support of employee growth.
A Changing Workforce
As Millennials become the majority of working adults, it is important to recognize their interest in career development and growth. We’ve all heard the stories of entitled Gen Ys who want to skip over “paying their dues” and quickly jump to positions with greater responsibility and impact on the business. On the surface, these are admirable qualities – wanting to contribute as much as possible and take on a bigger role. So, instead of addressing the pros and cons around this purported sense of entitlement, what is important is to identify how to capitalize on this desire and inner drive to excel. Building on this means providing staff with professional development opportunities and mentoring so they are ready to lead and take more responsibility as quickly as possible.
Providing learning and development is an employee benefit. It provides personal and professional fulfillment, supports on-the-job success and helps outline a career path. And it’s not just Millennials interested in continual learning, Gen X and Baby Boomers remain interested in gaining new knowledge and being on the cutting edge of their fields. That’s why providing professional development and continual learning opportunities makes sense and is an employee benefit.
Knowledge Advantage supports organizations in building a culture of learning that includes professional development programs through continual, self-directed and informal learning.