Professional development positively effects engagement and retention, study says

Just how big a role does professional development play in employee engagement and retention? A recent study provides us with some new insight. 
BetterBuys, a Web-based resource on business technology, recently surveyed 2,000 employees — the majority of them managers — to try to quantify the benefit of offering workers opportunities to widen their job horizons.
Here are some highlights of what the study uncovered:

  • More than three-quarters (78%) of survey participants said they had access to some form of developmental programs
  • 92% ranked professional development as “important” or “very important”, and
  • Tuition reimbursement is the second most desired professional development opportunity by employees but ranked fourth for what employers offer.

What sort of opportunities do employees want? Take a look:

  • 48% voted for external/off-site programs
  • 46% voted for tuition reimbursement
  • 44% wanted online training, and
  • 42% would like in-house programs

And what opportunities are currently offered by employers? The rundown:

  • In-house programs, 77%
  • External/off-site, 74%
  • Online, 70%
  • Tuition reimbursement, 53%, and
  • Other, 5%.s

Impact on engagement

Employee engagement is a huge concern for companies nowadays, the BetterBuys survey indicated that professional development could play a key role in boosting employee loyalty and commitment — survey participants who had access to such programs were 15% more engaged in their jobs than workers without similar opportunities.

Impact on retention

The survey found there’s a 34% higher retention rate comparing those with development opportunities compared to those without. Plus, fully three-quarters (75%) of employees with opportunities said they were likely to stay with their employers for another five years — only 56% of workers without opportunities said the same.

Bottom line

Here’s part of what the BetterBuy researchers said after weighing the results of the study:

We found that employers who offer their employees professional development opportunities experience higher retention and engagement. Especially when engagement is low, retention is positively affected by having these opportunities to reduce turnover. Reasonably, the cost of offering new perks and benefits must be viewed with a return on the investment, and the return on these opportunities is through engagement and retention.

It’s clear that offering your employers room to grow their role in your organization will go a long way toward building employee engagement and help you hang on to your best people.