“Supporting another’s success won’t ever dampen yours.” –Unknown
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, results, or workplace culture. But can these types of activities influence business for the better? You bet your britches they can.
Personal and professional development go hand-in-hand—whether it’s directly related to work or not, each impacts the other. Growth is growth, and all kinds of growth contribute to happiness. Research shows happy employees are more creative, energized and successful, and happiness increases productivity by 12%. 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:
The average length of time employees spend at an organization is about four years (this duration is lower for millennials), and turnover is expensive. 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 of over 2,000 participants found retention rates are 34% higher for employees with development opportunities.
When people feel their circumstances align with their values (such as growth), they are happier and more engaged. 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.
Personal development supports a growth mindset and growth-oriented culture, not to mention creativity and innovation. You are the culture, and it does not exist outside of you—as people develop and grow, your workplace culture will, too.
Here are some ways you can provide development opportunities:
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. At Fierce, every employee is given an annual $500 personal development fund to use for any activity we feel will help us grow in the ways we want to. This incentive speaks volumes about Fierce culture, and is a walk-the-talk way of promoting growth.
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 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—provide options that allow employees to work at their own pace and in whatever manner will help them retain the information they learn.
6. Ask! Have a conversation with employees individually. Ask them how they are wanting to develop and what would help them feel more supported.
It’s important to let your employees know that you support their personal growth, and following through by offering real opportunities is the best way to walk-the-talk.
Occasionally we run into barriers whenever growth is the intention. Check out our blog on growth barriers for helpful tips.