Professional Development

How does professional development fit into the “Great Resignation”?

The “Great Resignation” is a term that was used to describe the U.S.’s quitting rate, which reached a 20-year high in November 2021. The COVID-19 pandemic kicked off this phenomenon, not only with record-breaking lay-offs but with an incredibly tight labor market that affected employers, employees, and consumers in profound ways.

According to Pew Research, two main reasons were cited for why so many people were quitting their jobs in 2021: low pay and few opportunities for advancement. Fortunately, there are ways that business owners and employers can address these concerns, even as inflation continues to rise — by offering and encouraging professional development opportunities.

What started the “Great Resignation”?

While low pay and few opportunities to advance were the biggest factors behind the great resignation, they were not the only factors. According to Pew Research, the following answers were cited from adults who were asked why they quit their jobs in 2021:

  • Feeling undervalued at work;
  • Childcare issues;
  • Lack of scheduling flexibility;
  • Lacking healthcare and PTO offerings.

While some of these drivers were exacerbated by the pandemic — for example, many daycares, schools, and other childcare facilities were shut down, causing working parents to have to provide their childcare at home — these concerns are still a top priority for many employees. While professional development opportunities can’t solve all of these issues, they can address a great many of them, in several different ways.

How professional development opportunities can help address this phenomenon

By providing benefits with intrinsic value, like professional development resources, you can create more competitive and appealing job opportunities which can draw in qualified candidates to your company. Additionally, these opportunities can help address the factors mentioned above as well as provide other benefits for employees and employers alike.

Increase job satisfaction

It’s been shown that development opportunities help increase employee job satisfaction. The answer to why is simple: employees who feel confident and skilled are more satisfied completing their tasks. This is especially true for Gen Z and millennial employees, according to the Association for Talent Development.

And as previously mentioned, a lack of upwards mobility was a large driver behind the great resignation. Professional development opportunities directly address this problem.

Present new challenges

Professional development courses also present new challenges for employees. Feeling challenged at work is an important part of employee engagement, as feelings of stagnation and boredom can lead to employees seeking other job opportunities. By providing or encouraging professional development opportunities, you can help increase your employees’ ability to challenge themselves and seek fulfillment.

This can help increase your retention rate, which is calculated by dividing the number of employees who have been at the company for one year or more, by the number of staff in those positions one year ago. This is the inverse of employee turnover or the number of employees who leave a company.

Improve productivity and performance

According to the University of Oxford, satisfied employees are nearly 13% more productive — which includes both the quantity and quality of work completed. Not only is this great for a company’s bottom line, but it can help increase innovation and improve the company’s ability to reach intrinsic goals, not just increase output.

Encouraging professional development can also reduce the amount of company time you have to spend on training and development. This can increase the number of productive hours you’re getting out of your employees without having to increase working hours.

Internal promotions

Internal recruitment for management positions can also save time and money when it comes to filling positions. Internal recruits don’t have to be trained on company basics, and likely already have a rapport with other members of the management team, which can help increase productivity from day one of their new position. Internal recruitment also helps increase employee retention rate, according to Zippia.

Improve leadership skills

Professional development, for both business owners and employees, can help increase leadership skills in your company. This is important both for those in leadership positions, and those in entry-level positions. Leadership skills, such as communication, time management, and teamwork can benefit all levels of a company. Pay-offs for honing these skills include:

  • Increased productivity;
  • Increase performance;
  • Improved employee satisfaction.

All of these factors are crucial to increasing a company’s retention rate and addressing the main concerns behind the great resignation.

How business owners can incentivize professional development

Your employees’ time is valuable, both in and out of the office. Offering incentives for professional development helps show your employees that their time and their skills are valued by upper management, which was another major driver behind the great resignation.

There are a few ways that business owners can incentivize professional development courses. Some examples include:

  • Offering PTO to take courses;
  • Providing a professional course stipend;
  • Providing course reimbursement;
  • Offering bonuses upon completion of the courses.

These are just a few examples of incentives — talk to your HR department about what resources you may have at your disposal when it comes to incentivizing employees.

Industries across the board are still feeling the effects of labor shortages, caused by the “Great Resignation”. By implementing programs like professional development incentives, employers can help increase their employee retention rate, which can save them time and money, while also creating happier employees.