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Your company won’t attract and keep top talent unless you are willing to invest in their careers


Companies willing to support and invest in educating and training their employees are beating their competitors in the battle to attract and keep top talent in the rapidly evolving Australian job market.

Meanwhile, those failing to do so risk losing skilled staff or missing out on superior candidates.

Free parking, fitness clubs and on-site child care have long been lauded as sought-after employee benefits, and are still undeniably great to have, but today’s professionals want more.

They have come to realise that there are other benefits offering greater value when it comes to honing their skills and taking their careers to the next level, and they are actively seeking out employers who offer such benefits – those willing to invest in their future.

We are hearing from our students, especially those enrolled in post-graduate programs, that employer support for their studies is incredibly important to them – be it through full or partial funding or facilitating time off to balance work and study.

The education incentive provides a great opportunity for companies

A survey by iHR Australia of more than 125 business leaders found that “investing in workplace training and development may be the crucial step organisations need to improve employee retention rates and boost productivity”.

However, many companies are still lagging behind, with more than a quarter (28 per cent) of Australian businesses surveyed not investing in any program whatsoever for the professional development of their people.

Now some executives may think their employees don’t value these things – that all they really care about is their salary – but the data tells a different story.

Workforce 2020, a research hub created by Oxford Economics and SAP, found that employees rank supplemental training programs as the top benefit after cash-based incentives such as compensation, bonuses, and retirement plans.

Moreover, its research shows even the youngest workers are concerned about their futures – 36 per cent of global Millennials say a lack of opportunities for advancement is a top job concern.

What do companies stand to gain from educating their employees?

Encouraging employees to learn new skills and deepen their knowledge increases their confidence and feelings of job security, which in turn drives up their productivity and loyalty – exactly what any employer wants from their employees, right?

In fact, Gallup research has found that the more highly educated an employee, the more engaged they tend to be with their occupation.

So by investing in training and learning targeted to address specific skills gaps, both in individuals and the broader business, companies can boost their employee engagement and overall organisational performance, as well as nurture innovation and leadership from within.

Furthermore, an employee’s intention to stay with their current employer can often be influenced by their company providing or supporting relevant education opportunities, with those who feel their employers are genuinely investing in their future more likely to show loyalty in return.

And what is the cost of losing an employee?

Josh Bersin, Principal at Deloitte Consulting LLP and founder of Bersin by Deloitte, has said, “Many studies show that the total cost of losing an employee can range from tens of thousands of dollars to twice their annual salary.”

This cost comprises a combination of advertising, interviewing, induction and training of new hires, as well as lost productivity while new recruits acquire the same level of company knowhow, not to mention the cultural impact of employee turnover among the rest of the ranks.

Professor Justin Beilby is the Vice Chancellor of Torrens University Australia. To address the needs both of employers and professionals looking to upskill their expertise, Torrens is crafting its programs to address recognised skills gaps in specific industries. These include the Masters programs in Business Administration, Public Health and Global Project Management – which focus specifically on doing business in the Asia-Pacific and tackling current issues in particular industry sectors, as well as their new Bachelor of Media Design. Applications for Trimester 2 2015 are now open.