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Monday, January 20, 2014

Why you should invest in employee development and training

By Jemima Winslow

There may be subtle differences between continuing professional development and ongoing training and development but they have at least one big thing in common: They are essential to professional and business success. How important, you may ask? For instance, should they be a priority even when the bottom line is threatened and companies are battling to keep their heads above water? The answers are: Very important, and Yes.

CPD vs. ongoing training and development

Continuing professional development improves employee appreciation
PD maintains skills, but CPD helps ensure competitiveness
First, let’s look at the difference between continuing professional development (CPD) and ongoing training and development. As a rule, CPD is usually the individual’s responsibility while ongoing training is the employer’s responsibility.

According to Continuing professional development.org, blue collar and while collar workers have a personal responsibility to ensure that their knowledge and skills remain current and up-to-date with developments in their field. This not only ensures that they can provide the best possible service (and get the best possible jobs), but it also protects the integrity of the field and protects the public.

Many professions, like accounting, engineering, dentistry, law and even photography, have professional bodies to which acting professionals are required to belong. These associations usually have continuing professional development requirements, which members have to meet if they wish to retain their membership. But even those who don’t belong to professional organisations should take it upon themselves to continuously improve and build upon their skills. As Dr. John McGurk, learning and talent development advisor at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development says in an article by  Russ Thorne, CPD is about workers ensuring that they remain effective, or else they risk being left behind.

Ongoing training and development opportunities are usually provided by employers. They can include in-house training programmes and can be as simple as mentorship. Or, employers can hire training specialists to provide for a variety of training needs, from management training to training for new IT systems. Another option is for employers to reimburse employees for completing external training and education programmes, such as diplomas, degrees, short courses and even workshops and seminars.

The importance of CPD and ongoing training and development

In an article about the importance of employee development, Victor Lipman cites a recent study by Harvard Business Review (HBR) on why promising young managers never seem to settle in one job. One of the biggest reasons these potentially great assets job hop is lack of formal career development opportunities, including training, mentoring and coaching.

The reasons why employers tend not to give training and development the attention they deserve usually include lack of time and lack of resources, but Lipman says that companies need to make the time and resources available, or they risk losing more than just promising candidates – they risk losing their business.

In addition to employee retention, what other benefits do CPD and employee training and development provide?
  • Increased employee loyalty, and as Lipman says, loyalty leads to engagement which leads to productivity.
  • Reduced stress thanks to increased confidence in professional capabilities. Thorne cites Claire Lester, owner and MD of Pitman Training Group, who says that training can expand people’s comfort zones; they are more comfortable taking on broader, more complex responsibilities, which again leads to greater productivity, and also takes pressure off other employees and gives them time for other important tasks (or their own CPD).

    In fact, Jill Maddison, director of CPD at the Royal Veterinary College, recommends that people purposely choose training and development opportunities that are out of their comfort zone and which challenge them professionally and personally. The growth and confidence gained as a result have immeasurable benefits for the employee and the company.

  • Improved standard of service, which is vital to building customer/client loyalty and confidence and a good reputation within the industry.
  • Networking, this is great for individuals and businesses. All of the courses attended, online and offline, provide plenty of opportunities for meeting peers and like-minded people, which broadens business and personal networks and opens the door for new and interesting mutually beneficial relationships.

CPD and employee training and development opportunities

CPD is carried out via training courses, mentorship and online learning
CPD fosters career success
Training and development take many different forms and they aren’t all super-expensive or time-intensive. Some examples of training and development opportunities include:
  • Mentorship: one of the cheapest and most effective forms of training and development, and one of the most overlooked.
  • External training courses: which can include workshops and seminars, as well as hiring coaching specialists for anything from half a day to a week, or even a couple of days a week for several months.
  • Online learning: which could be as simple as scheduling weekly sessions to watch webinars or listen to podcasts, or which could entail online courses.
  • Promotions: which Eric Friedman calls the “sink or swim” method as employees either learn on the job pretty quickly and live up to their true potential, or they bomb. However, only use it if you’re very confident that the employee will cope, otherwise the consequences could be dire, both for the poor person involved, staff morale and the company.
  • Job-swops: during which employees learn about the other roles within the company and get some first-hand experience of others’ jobs.
Finally, employees get a boost when they feel that you are interested in their development, and not only because of what it can do for your company. Invest in your employees and reap the benefits.

About the author: is a firm believer in CPD. She is constantly signing up for courses that will add to her skillset and believes that it is the only way to stay relevant in an ever-changing world.

Image license: Keith Ramsey, CC BY-SA 2.0; 2. Mathieu Plourde, CC BY 2.0