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8 Reasons You Should Invest in Professional Development Benefits

Investing in professional development is smart for so many reasons. Read up on the advantages for employees and your company.

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“The only thing that is constant is change,” said Greek philosopher Heraclitus, referring to the idea that the universe is always in flux. His words resonate strongly in the modern workplace; the skills required to thrive in our careers are continually shifting as technological advancement and automation transform the working world into something exciting but almost unrecognizable. 

It’s a reality that’s either daunting or exhilarating, depending on whether you’re a glass half-full or empty type. In either case, professional development benefits equip every employee with the tools they need to survive and thrive through these waves of change.  

This article considers some compelling reasons why investing in professional development programs is a prudent choice for employers and employees alike. We’ll also introduce how easy it is to package a generous range of professional training opportunities within one single benefits account. Below is a synopsis of the pros we’ll dig into:

4 benefits of professional development for employees:

  1. Learning new skills
  2. Improving confidence
  3. Growing networks
  4. Developing leadership skills

4 benefits of professional development for your business:

  1. Improving efficiency
  2. Informing succession planning
  3. Increasing employee retention rates
  4. Attracting better talent

4 benefits of professional development for employees

Professional development goes hand in hand with career advancement and personal growth for employees, who can enjoy numerous benefits, including:

1. Learning new skills

The World Economic Forum warns it expects 44% of workers’ core skills to change in the next five years as technology such as machine learning continues to shape the labor market. Employee development opportunities allow workers to learn new skills and stay relevant in their respective fields, ensuring job security and future career growth. 

Employees can futureproof their careers by upskilling or reskilling in these top 10 areas:  

  1. Analytical thinking 
  2. Creative thinking
  3. Resilience, flexibility, and agility 
  4. Motivation and self-awareness 
  5. Curiosity and lifelong learning 
  6. Technological literacy 
  7. Dependability and attention to detail
  8. Empathy and active listening
  9. Leadership and social influence 
  10. Quality control 

Training sessions and workshops provide employees with the necessary job-specific knowledge and tools to develop these skills and stay ahead of industry trends. However, less traditional routes, such as mentorships, microlearning, networking events, and online courses are also available for employees who want to keep their skills relevant. 

2. Improving confidence

It follows that employees who keep their skills up to date also gain more confidence in their careers. Professional development boosts their self-assurance by providing clear evidence of progress in their current roles and a well-defined path for their future careers. 

People who feel secure in their skills are also more inclined to take on projects, lead teams, and contribute ideas, which makes them invaluable assets to any organization. Even if the worst is to happen and layoffs occur, employees with recent professional development certifications and training often keep their jobs or quickly find new positions. 

3. Growing networks 

“It’s all about who you know” is an old business adage. Of course, this sentiment doesn’t suit modern DEI practices; all people should have the same career opportunities regardless of the influential people they’ve rubbed shoulders with in the past. 

Nevertheless, there’s plenty to be said for employees having the chance to grow their professional networks organically. They might meet like-minded people at conferences, during professional development courses, in employee resource groups, and as part of mentorships. These workplace connections can last a lifetime, as explained by Edmund Monk, CEO of Learning and Performance Institute, who has this to say about his mentor and former colleague:  

“The spirit of community and the willingness to collaborate is what sets learning professionals apart. Yesterday, I had the privilege to catch up with someone who played perhaps the most pivotal role in my early career, Colin Steed. Here is a man who embodies that spirit of community and collaboration, and someone to whom I owe a great deal. He set the standard for professionalism but also led by example with his selflessness. Constantly making time for others, celebrating the achievements of others, and developing others. It is an example I strive hard to follow.”

4. Developing leadership skills

Employees can learn a great deal from their own leaders. But formal leadership training programs go the extra mile to equip employees with the tools they need to become effective leaders in their own right. By taking part in professional development opportunities, employees develop essential soft skills such as communication, conflict resolution, decision-making, and team-building. These skills benefit the individual and contribute to the organization’s overall success.

4 benefits of professional development for your business

Historically, some companies have been nervous about offering professional development opportunities for employees. Plunging money into training courses for employees who might pursue their careers elsewhere is a perceived risk. But there are numerous benefits for companies who do forge ahead with prioritizing individual development for the good of the overall organization: 

1. Improving efficiency

Intuitively, companies committed to professional development will nurture a more productive workforce. As employees gain more skills, they have the confidence to work autonomously, with less need for micromanagement. Employers might also expect skilled workers to be motivated to complete their work.  

Research also reveals profitable gains attached to tending a more efficient team. The MIT Sloan School of Management examined how a company’s one-year training in soft skills resulted in a 250% ROI within eight months of the professional development program ending. 

2. Informing succession planning

Over three-quarters of S&P 500 CEOs hand the reins of their respective companies to internal successors when they’re ready to step aside. Succession planning is critical to the future of any organization; it ensures a smooth transition and minimizes disruption as you know which of your capable and motivated employees are waiting in the wings when an opportunity opens up. 

Employees who receive professional development are primed for leadership positions; they’ve already demonstrated their enthusiasm for learning and broadened their skill sets, making them ideal candidates. If part of their training has involved mentorship, you’ll have an even greater understanding of their potential employee performance.

3. Increasing employee retention rates

More than 4 million U.S. workers quit their jobs in June 2022; this is also a global problem, with 40% of workers across six countries indicating that they plan to leave their jobs. Best-selling author and keynote speaker on leadership, Jacob Morgan, explains his experience of quitting: 

“I’ve quit many jobs and projects that weren’t a good fit, and it was the best thing I could have done for my career and personal development. I quit my last two full-time jobs because of toxic workplace cultures that provided no sense of growth or future opportunities. I tried my best to make things work. I explored possible solutions, but eventually, I had to accept that the jobs and activities weren't a great fit for me personally or professionally.” 

This story is far from uncommon, as 93% of organizations are concerned about employee retention. Filling open vacancies is an expensive and inconvenient problem, but LinkedIn’s Workplace Learning report finds that “learning opportunities” are the top way to reduce employee turnover. 

Why? Workers with a clear progression path feel valued and are happier to stay longer. They won’t remain stagnant in the same role but could explore lateral opportunities or promotions requiring new skills or capabilities. 

4. Attracting better talent

Companies can only retain highly skilled people if they’ve attracted the right caliber of talent in the first place. Professional development opportunities can be a deciding factor that potential employees consider when deciding whether:

  • To apply to your job ad
  • To advance their application if they receive a callback
  • To accept a job with your company over one of your competitors

Although people development should be available across all generations of workers, it’s interesting to note that the urge to receive professional development opportunities is particularly pronounced in younger people. For example, LinkedIn finds that 35% of employees aged between 18 and 34 weigh up the likelihood of career growth within the company when considering a new job opportunity. Similarly, 31% of people this age crave opportunities to learn and develop skills. In both these categories, these scores are higher than those of other generations. 

The bottom line: Employees want to be valued and will actively seek employment with companies that offer professional development benefits and employee development plans

Prioritize professional development with Benepass

Benepass offers a professional development account that will: 

Our program is highly popular as it provides a central location from which employees can choose a wide variety of professional development vendors. Getting started with our professional development perks program involves four steps: 

  1. You choose the eligible benefits you want to offer as part of your professional development account, including conferences, seminars, coaching, coursework, and mentorship. 
  2. We code your unique policy into the Benepass platform to create your Visa Benecard.
  3. We connect your account to payroll, ensuring automatic enrollment for relevant employees. 
  4. You introduce Benepass to your employees and invite them to start using their professional development account immediately. 

There’s no reimbursement process or red tape involved, which significantly increases participation in the program. Here’s how three employees may use their account: 

  • Jared, aged 28, from Nashville, Tennessee, uses his professional development account to pay for career coaching via BetterUp. 
  • Tess, aged 32, from Miami, Florida, pays for coding classes at her local university. Her current role is as a product lead, and she wants to improve her technical skills. 
  • Andres, aged 39, from Madrid, Spain, is taking CFA exams to advance his career in finance. He uses Benepass to pay for the exam fees. 
Celebrate diverse professional development needs

Want to learn more about how Benepass can grow the potential of every employee in your organization? Book a demo today. You can also download the 2023 Benepass Benefits Benchmarking Guide to see how companies of all sizes and industries are investing in professional enrichment benefits and explore other benefits trends.  

2023 Benepass Benefits Benchmarking Guide
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Rebecca Noori

Rebecca Noori is a freelance HR Tech and SaaS writer who is obsessed with our world of work. She writes about everything from employee benefits and performance management to upskilling and productivity tips. When she's not writing, you'll find her grappling with phonics homework and football kits, looking after her three kids.

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