Developing your most valuable asset


By: Jared Brox
According to PricewaterhouseCoopers’ (PwC) 2012 Global CEO Survey, 47% of company leaders forecast growth over the next few years, however only 30% believe they will have the talent necessary to accommodate that growth.

It’s a concerning statistic that is unfortunately representative of a trend that has surfaced across multiple industries. The problem isn’t necessarily that there aren’t people looking for jobs – quite the opposite actually – the issue is that businesses are not finding talent with the right mix of skills, education, and experience that is necessary to support their needs. So, what’s a business to do?

While there are more than a few ways to approach the problem, it’s important to not only consider the short-term solutions, but also how to safeguard future growth and productivity. A focus on comprehensive employee development programs can help equip your current workforce as well as future employees with the skills they need to step up to new challenges and business initiatives. And, a commitment to building an environment that encourages and supports ongoing education is also an important step toward securing a stronger future for the company as a whole.
There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all employee development program. Every company is different, and what works for one, doesn’t necessarily fulfill the needs of another. However, there are a few questions to think about that may help you take those first steps and consider pros and cons of implementing a robust employee training and development program in your business.
Are your employees even interested in developing new skills?

The simple answer is probably yes, your employees would like to have a few new skills. However, the question is more about motivation. Are they willing and committed to putting in the work it takes to develop their skills and expertise? From personal time and expense to degree of difficulty, there are a wide variety of barriers that may prevent your workforce from pursuing additional training and experience. So, it’s important to be prepared to discuss how and to what extent the company will help facilitate a development program. Statistics show that with the right support, most workers are receptive to learning new skills to help advance their careers. And this is especially true for younger generations in the workforce. In fact, a recent study by PwC showed that younger workers prefer career development to bonuses by a ratio of 3:1.
What’s the return on investment?

If you’ve been in the workforce for any length of time, the acronym ROI is likely a pillar of your working lexicon. And it should be. An employee development program that yields little or no return on investment is, for lack of a better word, a failure. Before implementing your development program, it’s imperative that you have put in the due diligence to ensure it will be successful. According to research by the ROI Institute, only 8% of CEOs who participated in the study say they measure how their investment in leadership development programs improves business performance. So, there are a few considerations you must make that will ultimately help determine whether you see a significant return on the time and expenses invested in developing a comprehensive employee development program – Is the program actually addressing a specific problem? Do you have a serious commitment from your employees? And perhaps most importantly, are you committed to supporting the program long term?

What are the consequences of not implementing a development program?

One of the most obvious consequences of forgoing the time and commitment of implementing an employee development program is status quo. Even businesses that are having record-breaking years need to plan for change. What works now may not be as effective in the future. Arming your workforce with the tools to address businesses needs down the road is an important step in securing the longevity of the company. A Deloitte study found that 56% of corporate leaders are predicting a shortage in executive-level leadership skills in the near future. A comprehensive leadership development program can help ensure you already have the talent you need in place when the time comes.
Obviously, there are many more questions you will need to ask yourself and your employees before implementing any kind of successful employee development program, but these are a good place to start. Ultimately, it comes down to your specific needs and goals and what you’re willing to do to achieve them. Just remember that in the long run, an investment in your greatest asset – your people – is always worth the risk.

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