While it may sound like an altruistic thing to do, what are the real advantages of such an employee benefit in the context of both the employer and the employee? To add further perspective to this discussion, let’s assume that most of our current and future workforce is comprised of “millennials.”
In this brief look at professional development and continuing education for employees, as it relates to businesses, the company must believe in building and fortifying itself from within by developing the talent within its corporate ranks. Most companies will also have to realize that employees want deeper and more intensive re-skilling experiences and want companies to provide appropriate time for this learning. Businesses must re-think why they should offer training initiatives to their corporate community for development and learning and how to implement these programs.
Where individual employees are concerned, they will need to adopt a ‘continuous learning’ mindset, understanding that it is beneficial in meeting their long-term career goals. To refuse to participate in continuing education, training, and professional development can and will most likely be detrimental to their future job security and advancement considering the increasingly competitive job market.
There is a concept referred to as the “half-life” of a skill that plays a very significant role in determining the importance of continuing education and training. The “half-life” of a skill refers to the period of time within which a skill is innovated, flourishes, and then becomes irrelevant.
Historically, the half-life of professional skills was once considered to be 10 to 15 years, meaning half of the knowledge associated with those skills would become irrelevant within that time. Today, the half-life of a learned skill, such as critical thinking, collaboration, and communication, is five years. It's even shorter for technical skills. These findings are based on a survey IBM conducted with more than 5,250 executives in 37 countries. In a World Economic Forum 2017 research study, researchers stated similarly that the half-life of a skill was about five years. However, by the end of 2021, this number was estimated to be closer to 4 years. As technology continues to advance at an ever-increasing pace from year to year, it makes sense that the “half-life” of learned skills will be a shorter period as we move into the future of making things.
As the rate at which you need to learn new skills to stay professionally competitive is rapidly increasing, it’s no wonder people are seeking employers that offer continuous learning. To safeguard an organization from losing new hires to competition, it needs to offer a remedy to the ever-shortening “skill half-life” by consistently providing learning opportunities.
The following statistics suggest that companies need, more now than ever before, to provide continuing education and skill development for their employee’s consumption:
94% of employees would stay at a company longer if it invested in their career development.
40% of employees with poor training will leave the company within the first year.
86% of employees believe it’s important for employers to provide learning opportunities.
People who work for companies that invest in resources for learning are 83% more likely to feel happier in their job.
80% of people agreed that learning new skills would make them more engaged, yet only 56% are actually learning new skills. This illustrates the disparity between what employees need from their employers to perform at their very best and what they currently are being given. The business benefits of having an engaged workforce are huge - from 59% less turnover to a 10% increase in customer ratings and a 20% increase in sales. All these micro benefits add up to the macro-benefit of 21% greater business profitability.
46% of respondents said that the number one reason they feel bored at work is due to the lack of opportunity to learn. Interest in work is a key attribute of an engaged employee. While boredom doesn't necessarily signify disengagement, it is a warning signal of an employee’s potential to become chronically bored and permanently disengaged. Disengaged employees are 37% more likely to skip work, are 18% less productive, and are 15% less profitable.
In an analysis of 3 million employee surveys, ‘learning and development opportunities were found to be the second most significant factor in determining engagement. It’s assumed that compensation is at the top of an employee's list, and if sufficiently compensated, an employee will be engaged, motivated, and productive regardless of other influencing factors such as work-life balance, well-being, and learning opportunities-- but this is not the case.
Earlier in this discussion, we assumed that the future workforce would be comprised of “millennials.” The global workforce is undergoing a generational shift, with studies suggesting that by 2025, millennials will make up 75% of the workforce. Millennials have a different set of expectations from their employers. 87% view development in a job as important, compared to just 69% of non-millennials. They have less emotional ties and loyalty to workplaces than predecessors - if dissatisfied, they'll move on. Defined by their lack of attachment to institutions and traditions, millennials change jobs more often than other generations — more than half say they're currently looking for a new job. So, to retain an increasingly millennial workforce, you need to adapt to their expectations, one of which is prioritizing learning (‘How Millennials Want to Work and Live’, Gallup).
In summary, benefits can be realized by both the employer and the employee when a meaningful continuing education or training program is in place.
The most noticeable place you will see the benefits of continuous education is increased profits, as employees can apply their education to make the company money. Continuing education means you have employees on staff who are familiar with the latest innovations in the industry. They can help you apply these innovations to your processes to stay ahead of the competition and increase profitability.
Employees who are up to date on the latest innovation can lead the company to improve productivity by implementing new methods and technology, combined with the creativity of student learning. Students spend more time actively using their minds than employees who may have done the same job for years and can now complete tasks by memory or routine. Active-minded continuous education students may also perform tasks more quickly. Those hours saved in production can add up quickly to money saved in wages. This increase in productivity can easily offset the cost of offering continuous education benefits to your employees.
Employees with educational benefits are more apt to stay with the company. One reason they stay is that they value the opportunity to keep current in their field without the need to change jobs or foot the bill themselves for classes. They will likely feel more fulfilled in their current positions because you alleviate feelings of stagnation. You benefit because you can build your upper management staffing from within the company. Not only can you find qualified worker applicants from within, but they will have unique knowledge of your organization that external applicants do not have.
Employees offered continuing education opportunities feel valued and are comforted thinking that the company would not spend the money to educate them unless they planned to keep them on the payroll. You benefit because you have a cutting-edge staff. There is also the added comfort that, if profits take a dive and you must lay off employees, you're providing them with a benefit they can take with them. An employer recommendation goes a long way toward helping them get a new job, and a recommendation with a leading-edge education puts them even further ahead of the competition.
Best-in-class companies understand the importance of continuing education and training for their employees, and they know that it will benefit their business interests in the long run. Best-in-class companies are the competition and will flourish over the long-term while meeting their business goals because they realize that well-educated employees are good for both the business and the employee. -Stan Suttles
Ceridian Report - 2018-19 Pulse of Talent Retention throughout the employee lifecycle
Gallup Workplace - The Right Culture: Not Just About Employee Satisfaction
Care@Work Blog - 7 Key Retention Strategies to Keep Your Top Employees
EMERITUS – The Half-Life of Skills – August 2021
Linkedin Learning – 2018 Workplace Learning Report- "The Rise and Responsibility of Talent Development in the New Labor Force"
Gallup Workplace – “How Millennials Want to Work and Live”
Are you ready to become a best-in-class company by implementing superior professional development for your teams? Learn from certified instructors with real-world experience in your industry. Explore training options here.
Like what you’ve read? Subscribe to our blog!
Feel free to share on Twitter or Facebook!