The Surprising Employee Benefit That Can Dramatically Boost Your Bottom Line

If you thought “minister of dollars and sense,” “germ slayer,” and “bone seeker” were rejected job titles from the first draft of “Harry Potter,” you wouldn’t be too far from the truth. Actually, they’re real-world job titles that workers came up with when given the opportunity to choose their own.

While fun job titles are certainly great for recruitment and employee motivation, opportunities for career development have a much bigger impact on your company’s bottom line.

Many leaders think of career advancement and career development as one and the same, but they’re separate pieces of the professional puzzle. Career advancement is the equivalent of climbing the corporate ladder. It includes short-term boosts in status, such as promotions, raises, and new job titles. Career development, on the other hand, is an individual’s lifelong professional journey, which includes his or her education, training, and skill set.

Career development will certainly enhance employees’ prospects for career advancement, but the former can have a major impact on your company’s bottom line. Plus, it’s within your power to improve — no wizardly job titles required.

Career development will certainly enhance employees’ prospects for career advancement, but the former can have a major impact on your company’s bottom line.

How Career Development Boosts Your Bottom Line

Increasing the number of career development opportunities your company offers can have several profitable benefits, including:

  • Lower Employee Turnover. Between lost knowledge, decreased productivity, and the cost of interviewing and training new employees, employee turnover can be devastating to your bottom line. Replacing an entry-level worker can cost 30 to 50 percent of that employee’s salary. That number grows to 400 percent for high-level employees.

Fortunately, job-specific training and employee education initiatives, such as tuition reimbursement, have been shown to increase employee retention.

  • Motivated Top Performers. One study found that top performers produce four times the output of the rest of the workforce, but these rock star employees aren’t going to stick around just because you offer them a better title or a raise.

According to Roland Smith, lead researcher at the Center for Creative Leadership, top performers are chiefly motivated by fresh challenges and the ability to “influence and direct their careers.”

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  • Increased Productivity and Stability. Many companies shy away from training their employees because they worry they’re making workers more marketable if they choose to look for another job. However, failing to develop your employees’ skills actually puts your organization at greater risk.

Research shows that the average cost of employee absences is equivalent to 35 percent of base payroll, and a large chunk of this comes from lost productivity. Think about it: What happens when a key employee gets sick or goes on vacation? If your staff isn’t cross-trained, chances are high that the work just sits there until that employee returns, which isn’t good for productivity at all.

Developing employees’ skill sets can help your organization weather the storm during flu season and recover faster in the event that a key employee leaves the company.

Research shows that the average cost of employee absences is equivalent to 35 percent of base payroll, and a large chunk of this comes from lost productivity.

5 Ways to Prioritize Career Development

Clearly, it’s worth investing in employees’ career development, but it can be tough to know what to prioritize to make an impact on the bottom line. Here are a few ideas for getting started:

1. Single Out Top Performers

Only 40 percent of employers tell high-potential employees that they’re special. A third of those who aren’t told end up shopping for another job, which is a high figure compared to the 14 percent of job-shopping top performers who are aware of their status. To retain your best and brightest, it’s important to recognize their talents and put together a plan to further develop their skills.

2. Look for Patterns in Your Top Performers’ Development.

There’s no point in trying to guess what type of skills or knowledge employees want to develop. The best way to ensure that you’re meeting everyone’s needs is to analyze what kinds of development your top performers have engaged in, looking for patterns.

Help guide employees to the job rotations or training programs that are most highly correlated with career success in your company or industry. While asking your employees what they want to learn can be helpful, this is your opportunity to inject some data into your development decision-making.

Only 40 percent of employers tell high-potential employees that they’re special. A third of those who aren’t told end up shopping for another job.

3. Cross-Train Employees

While it’s unrealistic to expect Mary from accounting to be able to jump on a sales call and close a deal, it’s a good idea to have employees cross-train others within their department on critical tasks. Ideally, all employees’ workloads should be covered if they take a sick day or go on vacation.

4. Start a Mentorship Program

Mentorship has been shown to boost employee retention, job satisfaction, and work effectiveness, but it’s also a great way to help employees develop as professionals. Pair up all interested employees with people whose experience they can benefit from to promote knowledge sharing within your organization.

5. Hold Open Educational Sessions

There are plenty of topics and skills your entire organization could benefit from learning. For instance, my company recently developed a 100-day career challenge with a series of activities to help employees learn how to self-manage their careers. We talked about how to network effectively, develop a personal brand, and plan and execute career goals.

We thought the program would appeal most to Millennials, but to our surprise, one-third of the participants were experienced professionals. This goes to show that these lessons matter to employees at every level.

Offering more career development opportunities is a true win-win for your organization. It helps your employees grow as professionals and boosts your company’s bottom line. Plus, it shows employees that you care about their growth. And when workers feel like you’re invested in them, they’re more likely to stick around and do their best work.
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Beth Knuppel

Beth Knuppel is VP of talent management at Ericsson. Beth has extensive experience coaching C-level executives at the world’s leading corporations, including General Electric, American Express, and Pfizer. Beth has lectured internationally on many aspects of HR and talent management. Connect with Beth on LinkedIn.

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