Managers are oftentimes in the weeds and focused on day-to-day tasks that keep an organization humming along. When a manager is in that mindset, it can be hard to pull out of it to focus on items that offer potential longer-term value, especially when that value seems murky at best. This is the situation that many organizations are in and it’s a situation that lends itself to asking, “Is employee development neglected?”
‘Advancement’ is the word of our century and that means if your organization is not growing and changing, it is being left behind. In the rapid pace of business today, constant evolution is critical and the only way for a business to evolve is for its employees to evolve. In every organization, employees are the backbone of success or failure. They are the ones creating, shaping, stocking, and selling products. They interact with your customer base, solve problems, develop new products, and market your products. Employees are the beginning and end of success within an organization and yet most organizations view training and further learning opportunities for employees as an expense and not an investment.Employees are the beginning and end of success within an organization. #TalentManagement #HR Click To Tweet
Why is employee development neglected?
Without measurable results, it’s impossible to view employee development as anything but an expense. Oftentimes, when employees are offered a learning or advancement opportunity, it is because a training course seems like it will relate to their position, but there are no expectations for what value should the employee or the organization derive from the experience at the end of the course.
It is impossible to track value when an organization has not defined value. What is valuable will change depending on the organization and on the year and maybe even on the month. Evaluating the specific needs of your organization is the first step to drawing value out of leveraging employee development.
Ask yourself, “What does your organization need? And how I can train, shape, and mold my employees to fill those needs?” Looking for an organization’s weaknesses can also be a good way to understand its current needs. Perhaps your organization is in a period of growth and new managers will need to be hired. If that were the case, it would be a prime time to consider grooming employees with leadership potential to step into those positions.
Employee development brings many advantages in addition to grooming talent or targeting weaknesses within an organization: it attracts top talent, it fosters employee loyalty and employee engagement, it helps an organization save money, and it also forces an organization to anticipate trends. Organizations that are going to be on top will be the organization anticipating future needs and training its employees to tackle them when the time comes, rather than the organizations scrambling to catch up.
Since employee development is a tool that’s a long-term approach to improvement within an organization, sites should be set on training employees for the future and not for the present. Asking questions like, “What will my customers want from my organization? What is the next disruptor coming?” is a great way to anticipate industry trends and to stay ahead of the pack.
Not only can employee development offer a lot of advantages when taken seriously and done right, but neglected employee development can lead to talent loss and high turnover. Millennials, the largest working age group in the United States, is also the generation to enter adulthood with a massive amount of debt in the form of student loans. Millennials want to work, but they are unwilling to compromise their values for a paycheck. That means that to attract top Millennial talent, organizations need to offer not just a good salary, but also other benefits, including employee development.
A Gallup poll found that 87% of Millennials rate professional growth and development opportunities as important to them in a job and 68% of Millennials who strongly agree that they have opportunities at their organization to grow in the past year plan to be with their organization for at least another year. That’s great news for organizations that have a strong employee development program in place because it will be easier for them to attract and retain Millennial talent.
New research shows that two-thirds of working Millennials plan to leave their current organization by 2020 and 25% of Millennials plan to leave their current organization within the next year. Millennials are more likely to quit their jobs than past generations, especially in favor of intangible benefits like employee development and for organizations that have let this piece of the puzzle slide, that’s not good news.
In fact, this research actually points straight to the reason Millennials plan to leave their current positions – insufficient opportunities to develop their leadership skills. With the “flattening” of a corporate structure where HR departments have shrunk by more than a quarter over the last few decades, it is nevertheless important for organizations to offer opportunities for growth to employees. Perhaps even more so.
“The biggest driver of disengagement is people feeling like they’re stuck in a job, and there’s nothing for them there,” an expert told the Washington Post. “It’s easier to quit your company and find a new job than finding a new job within in your own company.” The expert advised, “You have to really celebrate, really value, and highly compensate your most effective individual contributors… You have to have an HR department that understands they need to create great career paths for people who may never be a manager.”
It is important for organizations to reconceptualize the idea that it can promote high performing individuals into management positions to a philosophy that a career trajectory does not necessarily need to be an arrow going straight upwards, but it can be mean more training and offering new jobs within the same organization to talented individuals. Employee development is a benefit that Millennials are demanding from the organizations they work at and that will be required in the future to reverse the trend of the highly disengaged workforce by forging new paths toward career development and success.