In 2018, 78% of CEOs in the United States said they were worried about finding the right people to lead and manage their technology.1
As technological advancement continues to increase, the gap between an organization’s digital needs and its ability to find the needed talent is growing. In 2018, 78% of CEOs in the United States said they were worried about finding the right people to lead and manage their technology.1 Half said it was “very difficult” or “somewhat difficult” to recruit this all-important digital talent.2 Meanwhile, 64% of managers don’t believe their employees will be able to keep pace with the skills needed in the future.3
Finding new people is time-consuming, expensive, and ultimately frustrating. Many organizations found another, better way: developing the skills of their current employees. Once a “nice perk,” Professional Development has become an essential component of a successful benefit package.
And it’s not just employers who see it. Sixty-eight percent of workers view professional development and training as the most important workplace policy.4 This is especially true in the tech fields. In a 2017 survey, digital developers “emphasized the importance of career development over any other factor by a large margin.”5 It’s also true across generations. Fifty-seven percent of Gen X leaders want access to external career development.6 Millennials say that career development is even more important than work-life balance.7
Businesses where learning and professional development are valued have retention rates approximately 30-50% higher than those where it’s not a priority.8 But it also has the bonus of attracting quality external candidates. According to one study, 70% of US employees would be “at least somewhat likely” to leave their current company in favor of one with a reputation for investing in employee learning and development.9
Conversely, organizations that ignore professional development do so at their own peril. A national survey from Instructure, conducted by The Harris Poll found that career development (or the lack thereof) ranked second only to compensation as the reason employees left their organization.10
So, who’s doing it right? As you might expect, large tech companies have taken the lead. Amazon’s Career Choice program benefit offers up to $12,000 for tuition, fees, and textbooks. Intel’s professional development program includes tuition assistance, classroom and on-demand learning resources, and even career advisors. Adobe reimburses education and professional development and offers up to $10,000 per year for tuition, course fees, certification fees, and books for coursework. It also offers up to a thousand dollars a year for conferences, workshops, professional or technical training courses, online learning and professional memberships.11 But it isn’t just tech companies. Chipotle, which has provided its workers with more than $20 million in tuition assistance during that period. That’s in addition to the $5,250 in tuition reimbursement that it has offered eligible employees.12
Forty-five percent of companies have increased their training and professional development program investments during the past two years.13 And the trend is growing, with 77% saying they plan invest significantly in learning and development.14 Although digital and tech skills are driving much of the growth professional development can mean more than technology. Depending on the field, today’s professional business expense accounts can be structured to include the deduction of expenses for tuition, books, supplies, dues to professional societies, educator expenses, malpractice insurance premiums, professional license fees, subscription fees for professional journals and trade magazines, and more.
A professional development benefit helps you get the best people and keep them. The knowledge they acquire and the renewed enthusiasm they bring to their work can help you keep pace with technology and your competition.
- “The talent challenge: Rebalancing skills for the digital age,” PwC CEO Survey, 2018: https://www.pwc.com/gx/en/ceo-survey/2018/deep-dives/pwc-ceo-survey-talent.pdf
- “Gartner Says Only 20 Percent of Employees…,” September 2018: https://www.gartner.com/en/newsroom/press-releases/2018-09-06-gartner-says-only-20-percent-of-employees-have-the-skills-needed-for-both-their-current-role-and-their-future-career
- “Recruiting Developers in 2017,” Stack Overflow, 2017: https://www.stackoverflowbusiness.com/talent/resources/global-developer-hiring-landscape-2017
- “Are Companies About to Have a Gen X Retention Problem?” Harvard Business Review, July 2019: https://hbr.org/2019/07/are-companies-about-to-have-a-gen-x-retention-problem
- “2019 Workplace Happiness Report,” Udemy, 2019: https://research.udemy.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/Udemy_2019_Workplace_Happiness_Exec_Summary_FINAL-1.pdf
- “Employers fear 4.5 m workers could e on the move….,” Robert Half, April 2018: https://www.roberthalf.co.uk/press/employers-fear-45m-workers-could-be-move-year
- “How to get today’s employees to stay and engage…,” CISION, June 2019: https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/how-to-get-todays-employees-to-stay-and-engage-develop-their-careers-300860067.html
- “Best Companies for Professional Development 2018,” Comparably: https://www.comparably.com/blog/best-companies-for-professional-development-2018/
- “Chipotle dishes up degree program to prepare workers…,” HR Dive, October 2019: https://www.hrdive.com/news/chipotle-dishes-up-degree-program-to-prepare-workers-for-21st-century-job/565202/
- “Emerging Workforce Study,” Spherion: https://www.spherion.com/workforce-insights/knowledge-is-power/
- “Suntrust: War for Top Talent Prompts U.S. Businesses…,” CISION, March 2019: https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/suntrust-war-for-top-talent-prompts-us-businesses-to-take-action-300814598.html