The ROI of ME: 5 Simple Ways Your Company Can Invest in YOU

Want to move to the next stage in your career and meet ambitious young pros like you? Join us for FindSpark Next, an immersive career development event, taking place on Saturday, November 12th, 2016 at The Wix Lounge. We’ll connect you digitally and in-person to an exclusive group of kick-ass professionals. Learn more & apply for tickets at findsparknext.com 

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Image credit: FreeImages.com. Photograph by EmZed.

Let’s face it. The business landscape is changing dramatically, and has been for quite some time. Motivating employees today goes beyond aggressive salaries and benefits packages. Millennials, in particular, often place a stronger value on company culture, relaxed atmospheres and unique professional development opportunities over money and benefits, especially at the start of their careers.

For many young workers, unique professional development opportunities are seen as very valuable work perks and is a major determining factor in where they ultimately want to spend their time and efforts. Progressive organizations, such as startups and tech firms, recognize the massive returns from investing in their employee’s professional development and build those programs directly into the various roles within the organization. For example: the last organization I worked for was a software security business with a unique bonus structure – instead of receiving a bonus based on your work performance, you received a bonus based on your learning and growth. This was a tremendous motivator for staff to focus on learning new skills, taking on side projects and becoming more valued in their competencies.

Unfortunately, many organizations are completely missing out on this opportunity, leaving employees feeling stuck, unfulfilled and unsupported in their desires to learn and grow.

Even if you are at a place that encourages growth, you should be active in making sure that you are taking steps to seek out the best experiences.

If your company doesn’t currently invest in professional development, here are five simple suggestions that you can bring to HR today to encourage your organization to start investing in you, earning everyone massive dividends in the process.

  • Free corporate library. It sounds simple, but having an updated corporate library of books and resources is a fantastic way to help employees learn and grow outside of their daily regimen. The books should range from traditional to progressive and should make for engaging reading material and can be purchased by the company or donated by staff members. Include reading and writing a report to your quarterly goals to demonstrate you’re not afraid to pick up a book and learn something new.
  • Attend a conference or workshop. Watching a webinar to learn a new skill is one thing, but experiencing it in person is completely different. Attending conferences or workshops in your field gives you a dynamic and collaborative opportunity for expanding your skills, meeting like-minded professionals and learning from experts in your space. If your company rolls their eyes at the cost of attending, ask that a portion of your bonus be set aside to for conferences, and then develop a presentation demonstrating what you’ve learned for your team afterwards.
  • Interview a mentor. Depending on the size of your organization, you may or may not have a direct mentor in your field teaching you nuggets of wisdom or helping you overcome hurdles. Instead, ask your management if once a quarter you can use company time to interview a trusted leader in your field, whether they’re inside your organization or not. Record the interview, and write a summary demonstrating how you’ve improved a project or process from what you learned. We all need someone to look up to, and should have the chance to do so.
  • Spend time with other teams. Often, workers become quickly stuck in silos in order to meet aggressive deadlines or push out projects, reducing the chance to actually interact with other areas in your organization. Ask to spend some company time visiting with other departments on a quarterly basis to learn how their efforts compliment what your team is doing, and vice versa. It’s amazing what a marketing professional would learn spending time with the product team, or a sales representative spending time with tech support.
  • Host a fun lunch and learn. Ask your management if you could set up a lunch and learn with your team once a quarter. Get a small budget for food and drink, and during lunch time invite a local speaker to come in or a high-profile customer to visit and present on a topic relevant to your field or your goals that quarter. Encourage your team to ask questions and participate in the conversation. Not only will you and your team walk away learning valuable information, but none of it was done on official company time and you’ve proven to your manager that you can lead the charge on organizing an event and drive real value.

Ultimately, everyone is looking for a well-rounded working experience. By suggesting those items to HR, you’re bringing low-cost, high-value opportunities to the table for your business consider and demonstrating that by investing in your professional development, they can reduce turnover, grow their staff competencies and attract new talent.

Remember, any company that isn’t willing to invest in you probably isn’t worth your time in the long run. Keep striving to learn and grow, and one day you’ll be in the position to ensure your teams have great opportunities to develop.

What’s your favorite professional development experience? Leave us a note in the comments below and be sure to share with co-workers and friends.

Want to move to the next stage in your career and meet ambitious young pros like you? Join us for FindSpark Next, an immersive career development event, taking place on Saturday, November 12th, 2016 at The Wix Lounge. We’ll connect you digitally and in-person to an exclusive group of kick-ass professionals. Learn more & apply for tickets at findsparknext.com 

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