Crafting a successful professional development plan takes time and effort, but it can have a direct impact on your organisation’s bottom line to the tune of around £10.5 million , the cost businesses incur for poor or nonexistent training per 1,000 employees.

On the positive side, we’ve gathered four professional development trends and practices that will maximise the ROI of your employee training.

1. Keep the ones you’ve got

Retaining employees has a significant impact on your profit margin – replacing those that have left is often an expensive process . So it’s worth trying to hold on to the employees you already have. Investing in their professional development costs a fraction of the recruitment process and signals to your team that you’re thinking about their career progression and success.

79 percent of those that leave their jobs do so because they don’t feel appreciated . Taking the time to establish a thought-through professional development plan makes it clear that you’re paying attention to your employees’ career paths and development, meaning less staff turnover: seven out of ten employees cite training and development as a major impact on their decision to stay with their employer.

Think in the long-term – employees that you’re training today could very well be the leaders of your organisation in the coming years. Giving them the right training early on means you’ll end up with executives and members of the C-Suite that know your business from the ground up.

2. Learn from headteachers

The world of education has a lot to teach about the impact of professional development. Research has shown that headteachers only spend about two percent of their time on their own development. A study in New York’s Syracuse school district involved headteachers investing in their own leadership development, resulting in ‘higher performance, with minimal cost increases’.

Those at the top need to develop, too . Their success is often directly linked to the success of the business, impacting everything from employee to client retention, effective communication and foresight – all factors that influence productivity and profitability. Make sure your leaders know how to lead .

3. Stay ahead of the curve

Keeping employees up-to-date and trained reduces latency when new technology is adopted and ensures that you’ve got a roster of experts bringing your company up to speed with the latest – and most productive – means of getting work done.

Making this kind of professional development a priority can reduce the chances of missed opportunities, disorganisation and unplanned downtime – those potential holes in your lead generation bucket that will directly influence your bottom line when clients aren’t secured. Employees will also feel that they are getting valuable experience out of their work, driving the kind of engagement that gains companies two times the income of those with disengaged workers.

4. Get online

E-learning can significantly reduce training costs and provides a program that can be revisited over and over again for a refresher. Training can be completed whenever the employee in question feels most attentive.

It takes an estimated 40-60 percent less time to complete online training, making it time-efficient, too. Online training also positively impacts employee retention by 25 to 60 percent , compared to classroom training’s eight to ten percent. A lot of people have noticed the benefits: corporate e-learning has grown 900 percent over the last 16 years.

Jim Rohn, an entrepreneur who knew a thing or two about personal development, made the point that ‘income seldom exceeds your personal development’. The same goes for teams – income won’t ever exceed your team’s professional development and training . Measuring the ROI of training can be difficult – there are entire research papers on the subject – but there’s no doubt that it has a significant impact on employee engagement and lead capture, some of the most significant metrics when it comes to the bottom line.

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