Why You Should be Empowering Your Staff

Professional Development

Did you know, a typical employee consumes an average 3.3 hours a week of online professional development content? Workers are increasingly turning to blogs, webinars, podcasts and videos to help support them achieve their career ambitions and overcome barriers.

There is evidence that people are increasingly seeking out professional development opportunities on their own initiative by turning to publically available resources, gaining momentum ahead of their employers, who offer the average employee only 0.6 hours of formal training a week.

Creating development opportunities for staff has always been an important part of our approach to sustainability. Put simply, engaging employees, investing them with skills, building confidence, and growing opportunities for individuals pay off for a business over time.

PNE Development, our brand delivering professional development coaching, courses and qualifications, has worked with 2,200 organisations and 3,000 individuals over the last seven years. Over that period there has been an upheaval in the way job focused education is consumed, as digital potential creates exciting new opportunities. Yet, the value of formal learning has remained an important part of career development, bucking the trend for digital disruption.

So, how can an employer approach staff learning in a culture in which employees are leading the way?

Earlier this year, in a review of the MOD’s professional development investment scheme, ELCAS, we noted:

“Tomorrow’s learning is about ownership.” Learning structured by the learner themselves is a model that has been gaining increasing traction over the last decade, with potential pathways for self-development opening up as technology evolves and consumer awareness grows.

The socio-economic value of empowering people to design their own professional development is being increasingly recognised by businesses and organisations, with a discernible trend for introducing programmes that have scope not just to support individuals whilst they work with the company but beyond; part employee incentive, part CSR

Identifying skills gaps within your business, or areas valuable improvement could be made from investment, is an important foundation for any employee learning programme. However, opening up freedom to team members to identify pathways that they see value in, or are inspired to pursue, nurtures greater passion and motivation than more prescriptive approaches.

The endorsement provided by an external qualification also builds trust, demonstrating a willingness to invest in the potential of the individual, even if it grows their value in the job market and their potential of leaving. The Virgin mantra for staff development is a great example of this trust, stating, “Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to.”

It’s a perceived challenge which has often stood in the way of companies pushing staff development to its full potential. Yet, the reality is that supporting your employees to turn all that online browsing time into a formal endorsement of skills, it brings value to the individual, the team and the business. PNE Development Management student Jason Bowden-King, who went on to become Head of the FAST (Families and Schools Together) programme at Save the Children, commented he was undertaking the course because in his industry, “It’s necessary to have a professional qualification to establish credibility”. The answer? Empower your staff to fulfil their potential and gain that credibility.