Can opportunities for employee growth really drive engagement?

April 25, 2018

Paris Stevens

Modern office room with colleagues talking to each other

We’re led to believe that attractive company benefits are all about generous holiday allowances and the best local restaurant discounts. But while perks in a job are nice, growth and development opportunities are even more important, with  87% of millennials citing personal career advancement as one of the key things they look for when deciding whether to take on a new position.

Once upon a time, people would stay at one company for their entire career, but in the fast-paced modern market, businesses need to do much more to keep their employees engaged. A recent study by recruitment agency Robert Half showed that almost 61% of companies had reported a rise in voluntary employee turnover in the last three years, with just over half of respondents expecting this number to increase. It’s easy to dismiss these figures as an ‘eventuality’ of business, until you examine the investment into learning and development. According to the survey, only 47% of companies run training incentives, leading to little opportunity for internal growth.

Engagement and growth go hand in hand in the business world, and you rarely get one without the other. While strong learning and professional development opportunities encourage employees to grow, it also leads to greater job satisfaction in the long-term. Happy staff members not only offer more to their employer and work more productively, they’re also more likely to seek new opportunities in their existing company, rather than looking elsewhere. More than climbing the corporate ladder and gaining a shiny new business card, growth and development options actually help to drive engagement, leading to better productivity in the workplace.

But how do companies put this theory into practice?


According to the CIPD, listening to employees is crucial to driving staff growth and job satisfaction. In addition to increasing confidence, being listened to makes employees feel valued and able to be honest about their career goals. Ensuring everyone in the organisation has a voice means that you will be able to determine when people aren’t feeling happy in their roles, or are looking for more development opportunities, to move in a different direction. This gives managers the chance to act quickly and support employees with their goals, ultimately helping them to stay more engaged with their role and the organisation.

Don’t resist change

Flexibility is among the top 10 skills that managers look for, with 91% saying they look for the ability to manage change or uncertainty. But adaptability is just as key to the overall structure of the organisation and accepting change and development is crucial for success. Whether it’s managing the impact of external factors, such as Brexit and the wider economy, or examining internal changes, remaining flexible as a company will help your employees to grow within the business, instead of against it.

While someone may be hired for a specific role, it’s important that managers don’t overlook their potential in other areas. It’s a manager’s duty to utilise their staff members’ skills in the best way possible- even if that means a change in title or responsibility. If there aren’t any current opportunities available for promotion or departmental moves, leaders need to communicate with staff to let them know that their hard work is valued and that growth options will be available to them within the organisation.

Employee growth can’t happen without access to learning and development opportunities. Research shows that 68% of employees will leave a job if it doesn’t offer the right options for them, with more employees valuing a personalised approach than ever before. In addition to formal training and learning sessions, employees benefit from weekly communications with management, so they can discuss their growth trajectory on a regular basis. In addition to boosting staff retention, this approach keeps employees engaged with the company and their role within it.

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