The desire to continuously learn, grow and improve ourselves is a fundamental part of who we are. It’s engrained in each and every one of us. Dan Pink, the author of Drive, calls this concept our intrinsic motivation, which is our internal drive to do a job well because it matters to us on a personal level. We find it rewarding. On the flip side, extrinsic motivation refers to our tendency to perform activities based on some sort of reward, praise or punishment. Pink cites studies which argue that time and time again humans perform better when intrinsically motivated.
If these theories teach you anything, it’s that personal growth more often than not motivates people than financial reward, which means you shouldn’t count out the power of investing in your employees’ development. People want the opportunity to learn, grow and improve their skills, and they want those opportunities to be made available to them at work — not just after hours. And companies are starting to take notice. Smart HR and business leaders are leveraging internal continuing education programs as a recruitment, retention and engagement tactic.
When researchers from Harvard Business Review asked Millennials what they wanted from a new job opportunity, they listed the ability to learn and grow, quality of managers, quality of management, interest in the type of work and opportunity for advancement above overall compensation. I’m not saying compensation is not important, it certainly is. What I’m suggesting is: the power of providing ongoing learning and development opportunities to your employees is profound.
Job perks, such as learning, development and career advancement, are becoming more and more attractive to the workforce. Especially to those who are intrinsically motivated. An investment in education and skills demonstrates you care about the professional growth of the individuals in your workforce, not just the growth of your business.
So don’t count out the power of continuous learning. It’s not only a great way to attract, retain and engage your workforce; it’s a great way to grow your business and increase innovation.
What are you doing to encourage learning and development in your organization? If you need help getting managers to support and encourage employees to spend time learning, check out our recent hangout with Fistful of Talent. And if you want more insights into how learning boosts recruitment and engagement, check out Ed Nathanson’s whitepaper, “How L&D Can Solve Attrition and Retention.”