The year 2020 will forever be in our memory. While there were many positives, like spending more time with family, deep cleaning, or adopting a pet, many of us also experienced true hardship. With the loss of jobs, companies downsizing or having to resort to layoffs, or going out of business; we have witnessed tough decisions being made that will have lasting effects for years to come.
Depending on one’s business, budget planning for the next fiscal year is usually being finalized now. Investing in your people is especially important during this hard time. One research-based way organizations demonstrate how they value their employees is by offering professional development and learning opportunities. Have you accounted for professional development or employee benefits as a line item in your budget?
I am not sure that I believe that an organization's greatest assets are its people. Don't get me wrong, people are essential in any organization. From a business perspective, I believe from my years of experience (and lots of mistakes) that our greatest asset is how we empower our people in our organization. Did you know that Walt Disney was fired from Kansas City Star because his editor felt he “lacked imagination and had no good ideas”? Over 1,000 people reject Colonel Sanders in starting a franchise-model chicken restaurant. A beloved author in our family, J.K. Rowling, was rejected by 12 major publishers before Bloomsbury accepted her manuscript. Something, someone empowered these people not to give up.
Research shows that when employees feel empowered at work, there is increased job satisfaction, stronger job performance, and greater commitment to the organization. Empowering employees comes in many forms, such as how managers operate their area, what benefits are offered by the organization, and whether they feel valued at work.
One strategy employed and back by research is offering professional development. Graduate! Network found from their 2016-2017 survey that people who took advantage of educational programs offered by their employer achieved organizational goals such as decreased turnover, increased customer satisfaction, and profit1,2. Unfortunately, after the Great Recession, educational expenditures were cut in 2009 and 2010 and still show decreased expenditures allocated to professional development over time3. Furthermore, less than 5% commonly take advantage of professional educational opportunities offered by their employers4. Fortunately, this number seems to be showing a slight increase since the recession4.
At the end of the day, empowering your employees and giving them the knowledge and skills to perform the best they can in their jobs impacts your organization’s financial performance and reputation. There is much at stake with new technologies, leadership skill development, systems science, new evidence on diagnostics and treatment approaches, and so much more. If we lack appropriate knowledge, we will not perform at our fullest capacity, and no one wants this.
I hope you will keep your budget open to professional development and include ways to incentivize this fabulous benefit. There is no more extraordinary gift than investing in your employees through both professional and personal development.
Learning does not stop after high school, undergraduate school, or even graduate school. I am proof of this. While I have a Ph.D., the highest degree you can earn, I still went back to school to earn a second doctorate in a different field to learn how I could be and do better. No one is never too old to learn.
At 3C Digital Media Network, we all believe we have much to learn from one another and know we can do better. By offering professional learning opportunities, we believe this is the key to employee empowerment and that only good things will follow!
1Strickler, B, Ash, D., Sheffer, H, Zimmerman, Z. (2017). Bridging the Talent Fap through Data Insights and Community Action. Graduate! Network.
2Miller, S. (2015). Educational Assistance Program Lead to Career Success: Helping low-level workers-some with no prior no college-to become managers, accountants, and lawyers. SHRM. Available at https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/benefits/pages/educational-assistance.aspx
32019 Training Industry Report. (Nov/Dec, 2019). Training. Available at https://trainingmag.com/sites/default/files/2019_industry_report.pdf .
4Held, J., Mrkvicka, N., Stitch, J. (2015). Educational Assistance Benefits 2015 Survey Results. Brookfield, WI: International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans. (Note: 2020 results are now available for purchase. The 2015 are now publicly available.)
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