Companies are constantly evolving and restructuring to beat out their competitors and remain relevant among customers. Goals are executed by the individuals on the ground—employees. It is evident that companies should not only be concerned with P&L, projected revenue and budgets, but also work to ensure it’s employees are positioned to deliver their best work. If they aren’t, how can a company expect to achieve its performance goals?
One way to get there is by offering ongoing learning and development programs.
Often, we only think of training in the context of onboarding new employees. However ongoing employee training for all staff comes with a myriad benefits for employer and employee. Not only does it offer an economical solution to the growing skills gap—currently a top business concern for policymakers and companies—but it also increases employee satisfaction and performance and prepares corporations for the inevitable “great migration” of Baby Boomers into retirement.
In the past couple of decades, technological innovation has leaped ahead of the current workforce’s current skill set. The National Skills Coalition reported that through 2024, 48 percent of all U.S. jobs will be middle-skill level—i.e., they require education beyond high school but not a four-year degree, most falling within STEM industries. Only 43 percent of the country’s workers are trained to meet these demands. Over the next 20 years, 35 percent of U.S. jobs are projected to become automated or will require different skill sets, which may result in a large portion of the current workforce being displaced. Losing and having to replace such a large chunk of staff could be disastrous.
Workforce development supported by the federal government and corporations as the best course of action for playing catch-up. In 2014, the U.S. Congress passed the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) to support job-training programs. And according to General Assembly—one of many tech-specializing organizations that provide workforce development services to those wanting to keep up with emerging industry trends—half of its part-time students are funded by employers who want to reinvigorate their skill sets.
Providing ongoing training is a simple and cost-effective way corporations can mitigate the skills gap, and those that invest in it are likely to see even more return on their investment.
Properly training new employees or “upskilling” current employees leads to increased job satisfaction, improved productivity and greater retention. A lack of career development opportunities is a top reason employees quit their jobs, so offering them a clear career trajectory with development opportunities can increase tenure and build loyalty, allowing corporations to sidestep the onslaught of costs related to employee recruitment.
This is specifically true with younger workers—a critical demographic as Baby Boomers leave the workforce and newly minted employees take over operations. One study on millennials found that they are likely to quit if they don’t receive a promotion—but it also showed that their resignation can be thwarted with career development opportunities rather than jumps in salary and title.
Investing in professional development fosters an environment that promotes growth and innovation while providing employees, who are crucial to the organization’s success, with the needed skills to drive the business forward. It’s a cheaper, simpler and faster solution than scouring the market for a potential employee with the exact skill set needed. If recruiting is unavoidable, it makes more sense to hire a person for their soft skills, like communication, work ethic, and adaptability, than for technical aptitudes, which are teachable and learnable.
The resulting boost? An increase in employee satisfaction, production, and retention.