As part of a continuing series to bring you intelligence from the workforce, we learned that workers prize employers who offered professional development. Because that type of development can take so many forms, including conferences, degree programs and on site training, we decided to gather more information from our database of workers.
Types of Professional Development
Professional development is prized by workers, it seems, because it demonstrates to them that their satisfaction and growth is important to the company. Development can be formalized or informal, based on the company culture, but usually takes one of a few forms:
- Tuition Assistance: Chipotle recently made headlines for it new partnership with Guild Education to expand tuition reimbursement and college-credit programs. Chipotle offers up to $5,250 per year in educational benefits each year to its employees, one sign of the importance of offering educational benefits in a tight labor market.
- On-site training: A common offering at companies focused on employee growth and satisfaction (and a popular performer in our poll), on-site training offers maximal convenience for employees and can be tailored to job function or company objective. Larger companies often run a department focused on staff training (a function that normally resides within HR). On site training is also a useful way of establishing a culture focused on employee success and fulfillment. If you don’t currently have an organized commitment to on-site training, consider developing one.
- Off-site training: this would usually be “professional development” courses offered by a local university, college or training center which can be taken for enrichment but not applied to a degree-based program. Examples of off-site training might range from anything from time management to accounting to public speaking skills. The advantage of off-site training is that an employee can find something tailored exactly to his or her needs. In our poll, off-site training ranked lower than on-site training, perhaps because the latter is more convenient and also offers the added benefit of team-building.
- Professional conferences: Usually considered the bread-and-butter of professional development, conferences did not rank well on our poll, perhaps because respondents consider conference attendance as a basic part of their job, dislike travel or just prefer other forms of development. The advantage of a conference can be the chance to network with others in the same industry, and also pack in a large amount of content on a given subject in one day. It’s clear, however, that this is not the preferred professional development of our respondents.
- Paid time for “side projects”: this is an idea made famous by Google, in which employees are encouraged to spend 20% of their time working on things outside of their traditional job functions. At Google, it’s credited for the invention of Gmail and Adsense. But in practice, it may be one of the hardest ideas to implement, and many believe it does not really exist in practice at Google. The valuable takeaways from this type of setup are real, however: it makes sense to get workers out of their “comfort zones” from time to time, and be willing to cultivate and encourage skills that may not be obvious from their typical day-to-day work setup.
The full results of our poll
You can see from the results of the poll that workers prize the convenience of training that comes to them. Stay tuned for more insight from worker on satisfaction, training and more.