With the breakdown of technological barriers, human resources have become the key differentiator and the new source of competitive advantage. Companies that invest in the personal development of their employees, to enable them to realise their potential, invariably perform better than their competitors.
Personal Development Improves Performance
The direct benefit of training employees is improved work performance, manifesting as improved productivity, efficiency, and competency.
Employees who receive job-specific training are more productive and confident. Many studies, such as the ones conducted by Dearden et al (2005), and Konings and Vanormelingen (2010) conclude that training has a positive effect on productivity, and that training has double the positive effect on productivity that wages have.
Many employees, especially supervisors, never acquire any formal training for much of their job descriptions. They may have been recruited for possessing some skills, and subsequently promoted for doing a good job. They would lack the necessary skills, especially soft skills, to excel in their new position that involves more responsibilities and or a wider job description. Ongoing training programmes in key soft skills such as conflict resolution, customer service, effective communication and more helps such employees to bridge the gap and continue to excel in their jobs.
Taking Feedback Increases Ownership
Involving the employees in their day-to-day tasks, or even in strategic decisions, increases their sense of ownership and responsibility. Such employees would remain motivated and responsible, as they have a personal stake to take the task or objective to its logical conclusion. Taking feedback from employees makes sense in any case, as employees, being the first in line of contact with the customer or attuned to the ground reality, would be more familiar with the reality compared to theorists in the boardroom.
Personal Development Boosts Morale and Commitment
By promoting staff development, the management sends across the message that they value the employees. This improves employee attitude and prompts them to go that extra mile beyond their brief, to delight the customer, do something in a timely manner, or simply achieve excellence.
Personal Development Boosts Retention
Most employees reciprocate the personal development opportunities they receive by developing a sense of belonging. Concerns of loyalty apart, most employees do not think of leaving a company that takes care of their personal and professional growth, to an unknown place where there is risk of their progress stalling.
Apart from formal training for specific job related skills and mentoring, companies could offer employees the chance to further their basic and advanced education through local universities, professional organisations, and training organisations. Another option is for companies to pay annual dues for membership in professional associations.
According to Protential, a human capital development firm, such investment generate positive returns on investment. Among the key takeaways from their study are that
- Companies across the board can boost profit margins by 47 percent by investing in leadership development training
- Human resource management training reduces staff turnover by 70 percent and improves customer retention by 5 percent.
- Investing in personal development training program increases productivity by 5.2 percent.
Companies investing in personal development of their employees also gain directly by reduced medical claims and prescription drug claims.
In the UK, companies need not fund all their employee development initiatives by themselves. There are many government grants available for staff education. One example is the "Train for Gain" program, a £50m Skills Enhancement Fund that aims to engage employers in Yorkshire and Humber to invest in skills development. Companies could also treat investment accrued in such program as expenses to reduce their tax liability.
Investing in employee development helps companies in many ways.