Benefits of a Well-Designed Employee Development Program

employee development programs

Read any HR news recently? Seems you can't go a day without a splashy headline about newly introduced education programs paying tuition for employees to go back to school. Retail, healthcare, communications -- it's a veritable arms race of one-upmanship. And it seems everybody's getting into the act. Why all the fuss? Let's just say it's not only to make news (although that's nice, too).

Education Envy: Side Effects Can Include Turnover

Single-digit unemployment has put everyone in the hot seat. It's an employees' market out there, and people are weighing their options. And it's not just the disgruntled you need to worry about. A recent study of job satisfaction shows that even happy employees are at risk. The universal sore spot: development. "Workers feel quite disappointed with their job's professional development aspects," wrote the authors of the recently released Conference Board study.

While more than half of the 1,500 surveyed employees said they're happy with their jobs, a much smaller number expressed contentment with professional development, ranking such opportunities near the bottom of nearly two dozen employer attributes. That's a problem since study-after-study shows skill attainment high on employees' lists. In today's tight labor market, Conference Board researchers call it "a warning signal for any organization looking to attract and retain talent." In other words education envy can cause side effects -- namely turnover. "To attract and retain the most productive employees in today's labor market," wrote The Conference Board, "companies must make a bigger commitment to addressing the factors within their control that entails addressing the job components with which employees are least satisfied, including job training."

Employee Development Programs in the Spotlight

Clearly employers are paying attention, hence the rise in tuition headlines. And the uptick isn't just in new programs. Many of the newly publicized offerings are expansions -- employers who have sweetened the development pot by increasing reimbursement amounts, in many cases funding employees' education at 100%. So is it working? If headlines alone are a measure -- yes. But there's more. And employers who are stepping up are indeed giving themselves a steep advantage. Just look at some of the employee comments on a LinkedIn post about one company's generous tuition program.

"My absolute favorite benefit."

"Much love for this company."

"Good work on encouraging education to employees."

"Love that my company invests in your future!"

"Freaking amazing!"

"As workers continue to voluntarily leave their jobs at a record rate," wrote The Conference Board, "the need to prioritize components relating to their professional development could not come at a more pressing time." For smart employers, that means generous funding for employees' learning and development. You'll definitely get employees' attention. And you just might generate a few headlines in the process.

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Written by: Alan Robins

About the Author

Alan Robins at Bright Horizons

As Director of Product Marketing, Alan drives original research and thought leadership for Bright Horizons education benefits programs, drawing on his extensive experience helping companies optimize education programs to support their Talent and HR objectives. Prior to Bright Horizons, Alan was at Gartner, a global leader in providing advisory services to technology and business executives, where he led new product teams in Europe and the US.