Author: Kieran Balmaceda                       Contributing Expert: Sharada Menon – HR and OH&S Manager

Employees are not just a resource. As much as we know the essential role that employees play in the greater business machine, shouldn’t people be an investment too?

It makes sense as we break down modern workplace dynamics. Nobody, staff or executive, expects to stay in the same place in terms of their responsibilities and career trajectory. In terms of career lifespan, upward mobility is dependent on developing new skills to match future opportunities and the evolution of how we understand modern careers and working life.

The Middlesex University for Work Based Learning found that 74% of employees surveyed felt that they “weren’t achieving their full potential… due to (the) lack of development opportunities.”

It is evident that an employee who feels both valued and given the opportunity to pursue their own personal development is more likely to be loyal to their employer and colleagues and are also likely to produce a higher standard of work.

What an employee sees as their potential for growth with their employer may directly impact the bottom line. Paying attention to the needs of your staff will enable you to implement supportive pathways for education and training, allowing them to expand their skillset which ultimately reflects on the company’s ability to deliver value.

The Association for Talent Development (ATD) reported that companies who increase their spend on employee development and training can increase their profit margin by around 24%. This is not an unrealistic goal to achieve.

Anecdotes and quotes from prominent leaders and executives the world over have spoken about the need to remove fear or hesitation around innovation, change and failure to encourage growth across all levels of any organisation. This is no coincidence.

Employers can gain a great deal from investing in upskilling and training of their staff to enhance business capabilities and opportunity. Employees and management alike can identify new strengths and further direct resources to encourage growth in these areas.

This corresponds with the fact that forty per cent of employees who feel “dissatisfied” with their employment will leave their jobs. Losing an employee is never a desirable outcome. The cost of recruiting and training a new employee is far greater than the cost of investing in the professional development and well-being of your employees.

Skills pathways are important in other ways. Perhaps an employee wants to move sideways to a new discipline within the same organisation; enabling their training and development to accommodate this transferal of skills improves retention and job satisfaction, not to mention creates additional capability within your organisation.

Employees within Hendry have been supported in making the transition to a new discipline, as noted by Building Surveyor Shane Ho, who said “My managers and direct supervisors were all very supportive of my transfer to the Building Surveying department. They are very open about the possibilities of working in one department or the other, as we have this lifecycle approach to the Built Form Industry where the possibilities are endless for any one staff member to contribute or feed into any part of the process.”

For Hendry, we’ve been well aware of the benefits of proactive staff development and providing our staff with the opportunity to expand their professional capabilities via an internal support program. Since its implementation, we’ve found responses from staff to be very positive as they are able to examine their career ambitions and decide which skills can be developed in line with these expectations.

Our Industry Engagement and Communications Manager, Amber Keogh, is a current participant in our professional development program. When asked about her experience in the program thus far, she explained to us the importance of consistent and open discussion and how this can help both sides in maximising the value which they receive.

“In being given the opportunity to undertake a “Leadership” program and on-going external coaching, I have learned Hendry are invested in my future. This allowed me to build a tangible plan with my employer to meet my long-term expectations – as well as openly discuss any further development that will assist in my career trajectory. Professional development programs, such as the one I am completing, are really only valuable to an employee when they align with their personal career goals, and it is worth uncovering those to ensure both parties get the maximum benefit of any investment in development” she said.

Education has also been a key focus for us, as we feel that there are several ways to champion professional development as something which is not only provided by your job, but something which can be discovered through further education pathways and partnerships. We regularly develop course content and partner with institutions such as RMIT to host events and create micro-credentials courses, rapidly growing pathways for students and employees alike to develop additional skills on the side.

Of course, this is all very much common sense, but when it comes to putting these ideas into practice, there are many hesitations in modern business. The fact remains that investing in the capabilities, welfare and experience of your staff is not only cheaper than retraining new employees, it offers an immediate benefit and greatly improves their prospects, and yours.