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How professional development can prevent the 7-year itch

Hypothetical question: “What happens if I train my staff and they walk out the door?” Hypothetical response: “What happens if you don’t train your staff and they stay?” It’s a ...

How professional development can prevent the 7-year itch

Hypothetical question: “What happens if I train my staff and they walk out the door?” Hypothetical response: “What happens if you don’t train your staff and they stay?”

It’s a conversation worth pondering. The risk of having employees with outmoded skills is a clear and present danger in today’s rapidly changing world.

However, professional development plays an even more important role than keeping skills sharp: it can be an invaluable way to retain staff. Sadly, the 7-year itch referred to in the headline is no longer reality. Back in 1975, Australians aged 45+ typically stayed in the same job for 10 years. Today, the same demographic stays in their jobs for an average of around 6 years 8 months. For those aged 35-44 it’s 4 years, and for those aged 25-35 it’s 2 years 8 months. For under 25’s it’s just 1 year 8 months.[1]

In countless research papers, lack of career development is cited as a key reason why employees jump ship. One 2017 survey indicates the top two reasons for employees leaving their current organisations are limited career progression and to seek a new challenge.[2]

It seems professional development (or lack thereof) is both a “push” and a “pull” factor when it comes to staff turnover: people leave companies because they aren’t getting enough professional development, and they are attracted to companies that offer it.

However, like all aspects of work, professional development has changed. Research[3] suggests that the concept of a career is evolving towards a model that empowers individuals to acquire valuable experiences, explore new roles and continually reinvent themselves.

Despite traditional career models becoming defunct in the new world of work, Deloitte found that more than half of the business leaders surveyed globally (54%) have no programs in place to build the skills of the future.

So, what sort of professional development are people seeking?

  1. Content that helps with subject matter mastery. Employees want the foundations of soft skills, compliance-related skills and technical skills but they also want to become subject matter experts in their specialty area. Learning opportunities that offer self-direction and self-discovery are two ways to ensure this occurs.
  2. Relevant, timely content. Professional development options need to be up-to-date, customised and applicable to the roles and tasks that are presently required of employees; generic or irrelevant learning solutions will result in your learners simply switching off.
  3. A range of content delivery. The traditional classroom is no longer the sole domain of learning. Today, we can learn in smaller chunks, on our own terms, and through a variety of engaging formats. Face-to-face is great, but don’t forget digital and mobile! Level up your training game.
  4. Bite-sized, easily digestible chunks. To combat information overload, consider delivering content in smaller, manageable units. Bite-sized learning presented on laptops or mobile phones also enables learners to access their learning anytime and anywhere.

Developing a culture of continuous learning can have a profound effect on the success of your employees and your business. Invest in growth, teamwork, and skills – watch profits, productivity, and happy employees stick around!

Lack of transparency in career paths, compensation information, and promotion requirements can hinder employee engagement and retention. Consider rethinking your strategy to empower employees with knowledge and clarity.

ELMO Cloud HR & Payroll’s “Develop” solutions suite can help organisations evolve their approach to continuous, electronic learning. Our suite includes: Learning Management Software, to automate, keep track of, and report on learning activities across your business; Course Builder, to create bespoke online learning content; and Course Library, which provides access to over 400 pre-built online courses covering everything from soft skills to compliance. If you’d like to know more, contact us and one of our consultants will be more than happy to reach out.

[1] Household, Income, and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) report, Department of Employment

[2] 2017 Australia Salary & Employment Outlook, Michael Page

[3] 2018 Human Capital Trends Survey, Deloitte