Is your organization actively fostering happiness amongst its employees? Better yet, does it even matter if employees are happy or not? Spoiler alert — it definitely does.
Gallup reports that between 55 and 80 percent of employees believe it’s normal to see work as something to be endured, not enjoyed, while according to Forbes, happy employees are up to 20 percent more productive than unhappy employees.
Imagine one of your employees jamming out on a guitar, lifting weights at the gym, or reading a textbook.
You may not make an immediate connection between these behaviors and revenue or results, but can these types of activities influence your bottom line? You bet they can, and it all comes down to encouraging personal development.
Imagine your employees coming into work each day feeling more rested, more accomplished, and that their employer truly cares about them. When employees know you care about their growth, they respond. It builds trust, commitment, and a host of other benefits that impact the bottom line.
Let’s break it down. Here are some big benefits your organization stands to gain by supporting employee personal development:
Retention. The average length of time employees spend at an organization is 4.6 years, while millennials stay with companies even less at an average rate of 3.2 years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That kind of turnover gets expensive quickly.
Employees want to be part of an organization that facilitates their growth, and if it doesn’t, they’re likely to leave and take their talents elsewhere. A Better Buys survey found that retention rates are 34 percent higher for employees with access to development opportunities.
Engagement. When people feel their circumstances align with their values (such as growth), they are happier and more engaged because they feel valued and inspired by a sense of meaning. Tom Path, author of “Are You Fully Charged” says “the odds of being completely engaged in your job increases by 250 percent if you work on meaningful projects each day.”
Pursuing interests and goals related to learning, regardless of what they are, is individually nurturing and often builds skills that are translatable to the workplace. That employee jamming out on a guitar from earlier? Think about the stress they will blow off (and not bring to the office) while playing an instrument that they are passionate about, or the discipline and time management skills they’ll take back to the workplace from mastering their instrument.
Culture. Personal development supports a growth mindset and growth-oriented culture, not to mention creativity and innovation. Here are Fierce, we strongly believe you are the culture and it does not exist outside of you — as people develop and grow, your workplace culture will, too.
So, how can you provide development opportunities to your employees?
1. Offer personal development funds
Personal development funds allow employees to spend an allotted amount of money on any type of activity they choose. This could include anything from a music class to a pottery class or even a gym membership.
2. Allow flex time
If an employee is taking on-campuses courses or pursuing an interest that falls inside normal work hours, consider offering flex time. Flex time requires employees to work a set number of hours but during days and times that function with their pursuits outside of work. Accountability is needed here —give trust and hold your employees “able.”
3. Offer tuition reimbursement
Tuition reimbursement is an exciting incentive for employees who are interested in ongoing formal education. Higher education, especially in the United States, can be an astronomical out of pocket expense. Tuition reimbursement offers incentive for employees to bring new knowledge and skills to the workplace when they know they will be at least partially reimbursed for their investment of time and money.
4. Provide learning opportunities
Offer opportunities to educate employees on the latest advancements in training, technology, and industry. In addition to offering leadership development and training, stay up-to-date on unique opportunities such as local learning events and online courses. Offer to cover entry or sign-up fees if possible.
5. Offer participant-driven learning
Support autonomy and personal development by giving employees choices when it comes to what they’re learning and how they’re learning. Take different learning styles into consideration and provide options that allow employees to work at their own pace and in whatever manner will help them retain the information they learn.
Have a conversation with employees individually. Ask them how they want to develop and what would help them feel more supported and satisfied. There’s no better way to provide personal development opportunities that will make a real impact at your organization than by asking employees directly what would make them happier workers.
It’s incredibly important to let your employees know that you not only support their personal growth, but you follow through by offering real opportunities.