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The companies that truly believe in providing training and development opportunities are the big winners when it comes to being an employer of choice. 

Not only will you retain top talent, strengthen relationships with your staff but you will also boost staff morale and improve their productivity. The key word here is investment. You want to show your staff that you want to invest in their careers and that you fully support them. You want them to excel in their fields and prepare them for their next roles whether that role be an internal or an external one. The companies that really get it right are those that want their employees to succeed and will offer professional development even if it’s not directly related to their roles but believe they may learn valuable transferable skills.  

Regardless of what training budget is available, employers can easily create a learning culture within their organisations by encouraging participation in in-house training (facilitated by a topic expert staff member), external professional development, study days or subsidised education -  there are many options. Employees should be able to choose their training so that it’s not forced upon them (other than what’s required for them to do their jobs i.e. legislative changes etc). Choosing their own training and development will empower staff to take charge of their own learning so that they can decide for themselves what and when they want to learn. Not everyone has the capacity to take on additional learning that is outside the scope of their roles so it’s important that employers acknowledge that. Furthermore, forced training may also create feelings of resentment which in turn can create cultural issues which is not the intention of a good learning and development program.

Many employers allocate a dollar amount to their employees for training and development each year, some employees take advantage while other employees do not. For those who do not, it’s an excellent opportunity for managers to discuss with their staff what type of learning and development they would like to engage with so that the money doesn’t disappear from the budget. It could be a membership to a professional association, career coaching or another type of activity that is meaningful to the employee. It’s important to remember that not everyone learns in the same way and some may have learning difficulties. Others simply may not be motivated by training so finding other ways to keep your employees engaged will be important. It also shows that you care about their careers regardless of the learning preferences your employees have. 

Then of course there are those companies that simply do not offer training and development claiming lack of budget, time or buy-in from staff. Those are the companies that will lose out in the long run. Staff, especially the younger generation, will not feel supported or empowered to improve their skills nor will they believe that there’s a clear career path for them within the company. So, if you want staff who will stay on for the long haul, want them to be motivated and productive then invest in them and watch them grow. From a manger’s prospective, it’s perhaps one of the most rewarding things you will see and not something you will regret. 


By Barbara Selmer Hansen, Director of Impact Business Consulting (HR Consulting and Coaching Services)