Management July 1, 2016 Last updated September 18th, 2018 386 Reads share

Why Should We Invest In Personal Development?

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It can be a little tricky to negotiate the needs and wants of the modern worker. On the one hand, we know that training and personal development are two of the things people want most from their jobs.

The great millennial fallacy

There’s a stereotype among many employers that millennials are selfish, entitled and impatient. This is dangerous and unhelpful rhetoric that completely overlooks some important facts about the modern job market that offer a much better insight into the situation.

First, remember that this generation have had to negotiate the difficult early stages of their careers during one of the worst financial crises we’ve ever experienced. Many have emerged from university, saddled with debt, and either struggled to find work or have been forced into rounds of unpaid internships. This has fostered an inbuilt distrust in the system.

Second, we must consider that the job market itself is evolving with the modern world to become more agile and adaptable. Simply, our increased access to information and our visibility of the job market has made it easier than ever to connect with people professionally, which increases our exposure and access to new opportunities.

The important thing to take away from this is that millennials aren’t inherently undependable – they’re just responding to the reality on the ground. Realising this can help companies adapt better to their needs.

How can we adapt to this new paradigm?

If millennial employees are feeling disconnected and tempted by opportunities elsewhere, the best way to keep them onside is to get them engaged and invested in your company. One of the best ways to do this is through your learning and development strategy.

There’s a real opportunity to get ahead of the pack here. Going back to our survey, while a third of millennials say they can access training to improve their career prospects, the rest have more restricted opportunity. 37% work for companies which only provide training to help improve performance in their current position, whilst 19% only receive training to cover basic legal or knowledge requirements for their role, and 10% get none at all.

This indicates that almost a third of millennials are receiving very little to no training opportunities in their current roles – completely at odds with what we know they want – meaning that getting your L&D strategy right can really put you at an advantage both in terms of attracting and retaining staff.

How can you provide the right opportunities that will keep your young employees interested and engaged with your company?

The key to an engaging learning & development strategy

Personal Development Plans

Personal development is about learning new skills that aren’t necessarily directly related to your current role. The focus isn’t so much on how you can do better at your job, but rather how your job can do better for you.

The practice is often overlooked for a number of reasons. The business world is especially tough at the moment, which causes us to concentrate more on the ‘here and now’ rather than where our employees will be in the future. There’s a feeling that there’s just not enough time for it, which leads to a lot of box ticking and not much getting done.

It’s so important to make time for this. Talented workers naturally want to progress and will appreciate the opportunity you give then, and people care if you take a genuine interest in their future. Both help to build loyalty; loyal employees are more engaged and engaged employees are more productive.

Work with your employees to draw up a tailored plan of their wants and needs. Forming this in writing is important as it helps to identify opportunities to align job duties with the employee’s personal goals.

Increase the accessibility of relevant training

It’s all very well to formulate grand plans for personal development, but if in reality access to the required training is poor, then this will leave your employees potentially more frustrated than if no option was given at all.

eLearning is a great way to deliver fast and effective learning. The rigid structure of formal training sessions often forces learners into consuming too much information at times that aren’t convenient or optimal for their learning experience. Conversely, eLearning allows the trainee to access the courses they want when it suits them, leading not only to more satisfaction but a 60% faster learning curve than traditional in-person training.

eLearning also gives the option to introduce different kinds of learning in order to suit the trainee, including text, images, videos and interactive elements. All this whilst avoiding the travel, venue hire and catering costs associated with classroom-based training sessions.

Foster a culture of mutual development

Employees feel more engaged and motivated by their work when they feel part of a team. One of the best ways to cultivate this feeling is to encourage staff to become interested in each other’s jobs and careers. This can be done by facilitating frequent knowledge shares and rewarding those that offer help and training to others beyond the call of duty.

This takes advantage of the experience you have within your team, giving everyone a chance to develop as a result. It also gives employees a better understanding of how other roles and departments work, which should lead to better internal communication.

You should complement this culture by allowing employees access to real experience in other parts of the business that they find interesting. After all, it’s going to cost you a lot less to move an employee than to lose them altogether.

Images: ” personal development – text in vintage letterpress wood type with a cup of coffee  / Shutterstock.com

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S. M. Nelson

S. M. Nelson

S. M. Nelson is a freelance writer based in the UK. With over 8 years experience in the tech, business and lifestyle industries, she's written for Huff Post, ThinkProgress, Salon, Tech.Co, Tweak Your Biz, and many more.

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