10 reasons why an investment in professional development is worth every cent

By February 22, 2018 February 23rd, 2018 Blog, Communication skills, Leadership, Professional Development
Professional development

When it comes to cutting costs, professional development training is often one of the very first things on the chopping board. But we at The Colin James Method® think this is akin to shooting yourself in the foot – and we’ll tell you why.

Professional development can in fact have far-reaching effects, from more confident employees, to increased productivity, to more satisfied customers. Plus, the beauty of investing in people with lifelong skills, like communication skills, means that these effects can continue well into the future, ensuring that any investment you put into it will be returned tenfold.

If you’re thinking about putting your team through a professional development training course, here’s 10 reasons why it is absolutely the right move:

1. Professional development builds employee confidence

Employees who feel like they have the proper training they need to perform at their peak are naturally going to be much more confident, which can in turn make them more engaged, more productive, and more satisfied in their roles. It stands to reason, therefore, that this confidence often translates into positive results for the business.

We see this first-hand all the time at The Colin James Method®, particularly with participants who have undergone our Mastering Communication program. One of our recent participants, Carolyne French, National Learning and Development Manager at The Good Guys, for example, told us there were senior leaders in the business who had never felt confident in front of a group, despite years of experience with public speaking. But after completing the program, that all turned around. “It’s really changed how they use their body and how they tell their message,” she says. “They have stopped looking at their content as boring and now focus on how it can make an impact. That’s been incredible to watch, to be honest.

This confidence has been directly translated into better performance, and the business is reaping the benefits. “For a business like ours that doesn’t like to spend a lot of money on training and development, it was a hard pill to swallow, but the results were there,” she told us. “From an investment perspective … it’s worth every dollar.”

2. Professional development leads to better employee retention

Pricewaterhouse Coopers estimates that the cost of losing an employee in the first year can be up to three times the person’s salary. Employee retention, therefore, is very important, not just in terms of company culture, but also for the bottom line.

Learning and development can play a huge role in terms of employee retention – after all, what employee doesn’t want to develop new skills and take on new challenges? The data supports this too: according to a survey by CED Magazine, 70% of respondents said that job-related training and development opportunities directly influence their decision to stay with a company.

This is exactly what Michael Ziccone, Capability and Performance Manager at ANZ, found after working with us. “There has been a noticeable uplift in our sales performance, resilience and morale, as our employees recognise the time and investment ANZ has made in their personal development,” he said.

3. Professional development makes succession planning much easier

Recruitment is expensive – some estimates put the cost of recruitment at around half a person’s salary. It can also be risky – new employees are unknown quantities, and it could take several weeks or months before you discover they’re not a good fit, in which case you have to start the whole process again.

It therefore makes much more sense to promote from within – not only is this less risky and much cheaper for the business, but knowing this option is available will also improve employee retention. And with professional development training, you can ensure that those moving into senior roles have the specific skills they need in order to thrive.

At The Colin James Method®, we are certainly in the business of developing future leaders through courses such as our Mastering Communications program. Here’s what one future leader, Chris Hastie, Health Service Planner at Sydney Children’s Hospital, had to say about the program: “With my aspirations of leading a large organisation, it’s inevitable that I will have to speak to large groups and very senior and very influential people,” he says. “By doing [this course] early in my career, I can build those foundations and really grow upon them as I advance.

4. Companies that invest in professional development training are more attractive to job seekers

According to a report by Gallup, 87% of millennials rate “professional or career growth development opportunities” as important to them in a job. Investing in professional development training, therefore, not only benefits the employees undergoing the training, but also serves as proof that you’re an organisation that values their employees, making you much more attractive to potential job seekers.

5. Professional development training equips employees with highly transferable skills

It pretty much goes without saying that good communication skills are crucial to just about every role, whether you’re communicating internally with other employees, or with suppliers, partners and clients. That means that, regardless of whether employees move into more senior positions or to different departments, they can always apply the skills they have learned, ensuring you can be confident that your investment has not been wasted.

ANZ’s Private Capability Manager Anita Metcalf found the most impactful element of the Mastering Communication program was the framework that helped her structure her content for impact, and this has helped her enormously in her role. “I’d estimate at least a 75% improvement in my written and spoken communication since doing Mastering Communication – it was the best two-day investment I could have made,” she said. “Now, when I send my comms for internal review, there are only a few tweaks here and there, rather than a complete rewrite. I think it is a relief for everyone!”

6. Professional development training leads to greater productivity and ROI

According to HR Magazine, companies that invest $1,500 or more in training costs per employee have, on average, a 24% higher profit margin than companies with lower training investments. The American Society for Training and Development (ASTD) has also reported that companies that offer comprehensive training have a 218% higher income per employee than those companies with less comprehensive training, and that shareholders benefit from a 6% higher return if the training expenditure is increased by $680 per employee.

Professional development equips employees with the skills they need to achieve their goals and produce better results for the business. Michelle Newman, a Home Support Reform Manager in aged care, for example, noticed how the skills she had learned in the Mastering Communication program allowed her to be more successful in influencing decisions among her internal stakeholders. “Now, when I leave a presentation, I get LinkedIn requests or requests from people who want to be involved in my initiatives,” she told us. “It is a really exciting shift.

7. Highly trained employees means more satisfied customers

Every good business knows the value of customer loyalty. In fact, a study by Adobe found that the top 10% of your customer base spends 3 times more per order than your average customer, while the top 1% is spending 5 times more.

Professional development can of course directly influence the way in which employees in customer-facing roles interact directly with customers, but it can also have less direct effects on the overall customer experience, as good communication skills means employees are equipped with the ability to clearly communicate, influence and persuade in order to get the best result for the customer.

8. Interpersonal skills (including communication) are becoming increasingly important

Technology can contribute much to a business in terms of improving efficiency, but it can also put up barriers to effective communication. It’s therefore more important than ever to focus on developing interpersonal skills, such as communication in the workplace – in fact, these types of skills are vital when it comes to ensuring employees buy in to digital transformation.

As machines take on more and more tasks, it will be these types of soft skills that will become increasingly valuable to an organisation.

9. Professional development training can lead to a greater sense of empathy

In his new book Hit Refresh, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella writes about the importance of “the unique quality we call empathy, which will become ever more valuable in a world where the torrent of technology will disrupt the status quo like never before”.

It’s a quality that we at The Colin James Method® also hold in high esteem. In the Mastering Communication program, we focus heavily on the audience, encouraging our participants to always put themselves in their shoes and consider how to give them the maximum amount of value.

One participant, Kelly Shay, former Stakeholder Relations and New Business Manager at AustralianSuper, found this aspect of the course particularly helpful. “Using the principles of what’s in it for the audience, starting with the why and really understanding the key points I want to get across … helped me stay on focus throughout the presentation. It also helped the audience understand where I was going.

10. Professional development training can give you a competitive edge

In the business world, standing still is the same as going backwards. If you want to keep your business advancing, you need to invest in your most important resource – your employees – to ensure they have the necessary skills to give you the edge you need to stay ahead of the competition.
Do you and your organisation want to reap the many benefits of professional development? Take the first step today, by registering for the next Mastering Communication program now.

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The Colin James Method® coaches executives to improve their leadership skills with a proven methodology. Our coaches are recognised for their experience in their fields and have worked with many individuals and organisations around the world to master the art of communication.

Alison Carter

Alison Carter is a facilitator and coach at The Colin James Method® and Inner Profit Pty Ltd, a vibrant leadership development company in Australia. She is a qualified Chartered Accountant who has spent over 15 years in senior financial and communication roles. She now loves to share her passion for the design and delivery of effective and engaging communications.