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Investing In Professional Development Isn’t Optional

If you’re on LinkedIN as much as I am (or at all) you might’ve seen the image below pop into your news feed. The message—that professional development is quickly becoming essential—isn't subtle, but it is accurate.

Professional development is no longer an option, it’s a necessity. Some people will argue that it was always essential, and they’re not entirely wrong, but the pace at which business has been changing over the last 20 years means that skills become obsolete a lot faster. Particularly in sales, people without up-to-date skills can become an anchor that hampers team performance.

Mutual Benefit

The hypothetical exchange above captures one definite truth of professional development: employees and employers view training very differently. Employers see it as a tool to increase efficiencies and boost revenue. Employees see it as a resume item they can leverage when they move onto their next job (especially in sales, where turnover and headhunting are common).

With that in mind, it’s not surprising that employers are reluctant to subsidize the education of their future competition. However, employees are rarely planning to ‘dine and dash’ once you’ve invested in them, and if you can’t recoup the cost of a training course within a year it’s probably not worth it in the first place.

Accept that employees aren’t fixed assets and invest for mutual benefit.

Retention & Development

Contrary to the fears expressed at the top, professional development can actually improve your odds of retention. This is especially true if it’s part of the onboarding process, since it increases the odds that a new hire will succeed, and gives them the feeling that you’re invested in their success. It also makes hiring easier if you’re willing to invest some training dollars to teach people the skills you need instead of paying a premium on the base salary to get that expertise.

People like to learn new things and they like taking some time off work to do it. Companies like to have people with up to date skills and the ability to shape best practices. When you combine those two facts it becomes clear that professional development opportunities are a uniquely practical incentive to offer your employees.