Why Professional Development?

Because it helps employees – and the bottom line

By Jennifer Conroy
Senior Editor, MindEdge Learning
Professional development is a win-win opportunity for both companies and their employees. Numerous studies show that workers value training and career development as a company-provided perk, while employers reap the benefits of increased job satisfaction and productivity. But only 50 percent of working Americans say that their employers provide career development opportunities that meet their needs, according to the 2017 Job Skills Training and Career Development Survey conducted by the American Psychological Association.
Why should more organizations prioritize job training and career development programs for their employees? Here are four good reasons:
four reasons to prioritize professional development

  1. Increased Employee Satisfaction. Employers are always on the lookout for ways to improve satisfaction among their workers. While promotions, raises, and company-sponsored social events are generally well-received, research shows that professional development is also a highly desirable workplace benefit. According to Clear Company, a talent management organization, 76 percent of employees want opportunities for career growth, and 68 percent of workers identify training and development as the workplace policy that’s most important to them.
  2. Increased Employee Retention. High employee turnover rates are not only headaches for managers; they also reflect poorly on an organization’s reputation. Keeping employees for the long term should be a top goal for all organizations, and workers are more likely to stick around when they are given the proper training and are supported in their efforts to expand their skill sets. By offering career development programs, companies also open up opportunities to fill future job openings from within the organization.
  3. Increased Employee Engagement and Productivity. When employees lose their passion for their work, the morale and productivity of the entire company can suffer. Professional development opportunities can give employees confidence and drive, making them more engaged and productive. And according Pinnacle Development Group, a leading HR and business development consulting firm, companies that have engaged employees outperform those that don’t by more than 200 percent.
  4. Increased Company Profitability and Stability. Professional development can be a costly investment (U.S. companies spent more than $70 billion on corporate training in 2016), but it is a necessity in this rapidly changing technological landscape. According to the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD), companies that provide employees with comprehensive training have 218 percent higher income per employee than those that do not provide training. By prioritizing training and development programs, companies can stay ahead of the curve and secure a place at the top of their industries.
    For a complete listing of MindEdge’s course offerings related to professional development, click here.

    Copyright © 2018 MindEdge, Inc.

MindEdge’s Skills for the Future Study finds concern taking hold among portion of U.S. workforce over automation, robots

A graphic of a robot.

Nearly half (42 percent) of American managers say that automation and robotics will lead to a net loss of jobs in their respective industries, compared to just 18 percent who say that automation will help to create jobs, according to a new national study from edtech firm MindEdge Learning. Among managers at companies that have already adopted robotics and automation, a clear majority (52 percent) expect that automation will lead to job losses. At the same time, managers at firms that have not yet adopted robots and automation, report much lower levels of concern; only 15 percent say their employees are concerned about their job prospects over the next five years. The latter finding suggests that employees at non-automated firms may be underestimating technology’s eventual threat to their livelihoods. Conducted by Research Now, MindEdge’s Robomageddon: The Skills for the Future Study probed the attitudes of 1,000 U.S. managers (or higher) about the rise of robots and artificial intelligence in the workplace, and which skills will future-proof workers’ careers as automation takes root across industries.

The Robots are Coming

The adoption of robots and automation at U.S. firms is at a moderate level, with about one in three managers (33 percent) reporting that their companies have adopted robotics or other forms of advanced automation. Adoption varies across industries, with manufacturing (58 percent) and technology firms (56 percent) adding robotics and automation at the highest rates. The presence of automation is the lowest among retailers at 18 percent. Of note, managers at small businesses (1-99 employees) say their employees feel the least threatened, with 23 percent reporting they’re worried about job security over the next five years. Managers of medium-sized businesses (100-500 employees) report the highest level of concern among their employees (35 percent).

Below is the percentage of managers – broken down by industry – who say their employees are worried about losing their jobs in the next five years:

  • Technology – 45 percent
  • Retail – 38 percent
  • Business products and services – 33 percent
  • Manufacturing – 32 percent
  • Financial services – 29 percent
  • Healthcare – 18 percent
  • Retail – 38 percent

“It’s clear that for workers across most industries, the future of work is in flux. Change is already upon the U.S. workforce with companies tapping automation, artificial intelligence and robotics to become more efficient – and that will present some challenges,” said Jefferson Flanders, CEO of MindEdge. “We think there are creative ways for workers and companies to make sure they can compete. Learning and training-for both hard and soft skills-lie at the heart of any effective response.”

Critical, Creative Thinking Will Separate Humans from Robots

Overall, managers think that both hard and soft skills are needed in their workers. Yet about 40 percent of managers report that their employees are currently lacking in both areas. The question of how employees can stand out from their automated counterparts is a complicated one – but overall, creative and critical thinking were identified as the two skills that most clearly distinguish humans from robots.

Below are the soft skill sets that will likely separate humans from robots, per the findings:

  • Creative thinking – 30 percent
  • Critical thinking – 29 percent
  • Communication – 21 percent
  • Decision making – 21 percent
  • Negotiation – 20 percent

Training for the Future

There’s no doubt that training, especially for companies that have already implemented robotics and automation, is key to preparing workers for the future. Thirty-seven percent of managers cited internal training or retraining as the most effective way to provide workers with the skills they need to stay employed. Continuing education is seen as the second most effective method to provide workers with new skills, per 26 percent of managers.

Managers are divided when it comes to identifying who is primarily responsible for providing skills training. Twenty-seven percent believe that this is the responsibility of employees and 20 percent believe it is the responsibility of employers. Half (50 percent) believe that this is the responsibility of both employees and employers.

“It’s interesting that there seems to be employees in certain industries who are less aware of the very real threat of technology. For example, few healthcare workers are concerned about their job security, despite the fact that automation is happening at a rapid pace in that field,” said Frank Connolly, a senior editor at MindEdge, who oversaw the research. “Identifying the crucial skill sets that will separate human from robot – and improving on those skills sooner rather than later – is what will provide the competitive advantage in the (not so distant) future of work.”

About the Methodology

MindEdge’s Robomageddon: The Skills for the Future Study was conducted online during the last week of January 2018. The sample included 1,000 U.S. residents employed as manager or a higher job title, employed at organizations with 20 or more employees. Respondents were at least 18 years of age.

About MindEdge

MindEdge, a learning company based in Waltham, provides leadership, management, communication and educational solutions for organizations to help them meet their objectives. Founded in 1998 by Harvard and MIT educators, MindEdge specializes in higher education and professional development content and technology solutions and continues to innovate in the rapidly changing landscape of online education. The company’s webtexts feature narrative, interactive learning case studies and simulations, as well as adaptive learning technology to maximize learner mastery of the content.

Copyright © 2018 MindEdge, Inc.