Professional development keeps your employees up-to-date with current trends and skills, which not only helps your employees but also benefits your company. Helping your employees train for positions with greater responsibility or skills also helps your employees while grooming them for future leadership positions. Professional development helps you stay competitive, helps you retain your best employees, and helps you attract top-notch talent.

While these are all fantastic outcomes, it all starts with one thing—your employees. Your employees are your organization’s greatest asset. They are the key to taking your organization from average to excellent. Employers who invest in their employees to meet and exceed rising standards and expectations will reap the benefits. Professional development empowers employees to not only do their current jobs but also to take their learning and progress to the next level at work while finding success.

Let’s look at four ways that professional development training programs can benefit your company.

Attract Top Job Candidates

According to a recent Gallup poll, 87 percent of Millennials stated that “professional or career growth and development opportunities” were essential to them when looking for a job. This compares to 69 percent for non-millennials who noted the same.

Mind you, 69 percent is not a low percentage. However, with the increase of Millennials in the workplace, employers must realize that if they want to attract top job candidates, they must provide comprehensive professional development training.

When you recruit potential employees, you must show them how those potential employees will grow and expand professionally at your company. What career avenues are open to them? How can they refine or learn new skills? Can they learn skills relevant to the job itself as well as soft skills, such as leadership or teamwork?

Make sure that when recruiting you showcase your professional development training program in addition to salary, benefits, and other perks. Show employees how you plan to invest in their careers.

Increase Your Team’s Collective Knowledge

Create a training program that allows your employees to train in relevant subjects that can have an immediate effect on their productivity. For example, have a subject matter expert train your employees in a particular department—say accounting—on the new tax law. This can help increase your team’s collective knowledge in that area, especially if they are encouraged to work together and share what they’ve learned.

Bring your professional development training in-house through a learning management system (LMS). Or, offer tuition reimbursement for continuing education courses or courses offering industry certifications. By giving employees the opportunity to learn and develop skills, your team will continue to grow together collectively, increasing productivity while acquiring advanced skills.

Improve Your Employees’ Job Satisfaction & Your Retention Strategy

When your employees feel appreciated by you as their employer, they are more satisfied at work. Additionally, when employees feel challenged and more efficient, they feel more satisfied. Satisfied employees are happier employees, and happier employees stay longer at their jobs.

As an employer, you want your employees to be happy on the job, but you need to follow-up with your employee often. You want your employees to feel as if they’re making a difference in the company. You need to verbalize appreciation frequently.

You also want them to gain expertise but not just in hard skills. You want them to learn soft skills as well. To advance in a company successfully, employees need to master soft skills.

Professional development programs don’t need to occur once, or even twice, a year. Employee learning and development needs to be on-going. We live in fast-changing, competitive times. Employees need to learn on-the-job, at the time of need, and as new skills or new changes crop up. We live in a time of constant, lifelong learning.

Lifelong learning keeps employees engaged and exposes them to a constantly changing world of skills and demands. It builds excitement and loyalty. It increases job satisfaction and improves retention.

Invest in Your Employees

If you invest in your employees, your company will benefit. Professional development training is one of the top ways to invest in your workforce.

In a recent study, the number one reason employees left their jobs was lack of career advancement or promotional opportunities. This includes receiving feedback on an employee’s progress, receiving encouragement at work on development, believing that the employee’s opinions count, and caring about the employee as a person.

Professional development training programs solve many of these pitfalls that are driving employees away at the first new opportunity. For example, professional development training programs encourage employee development on both hard and soft skills. An effective program delivers feedback to the employee on their strengths and weaknesses. An excellent program will turn those weaknesses into challenges for the employee to conquer.

Through mastering different skills and implementing those skills at work, either on a project or as a manager or team leader, that employee’s opinion counts. Employees can start applying immediately what they’ve learned while fine-tuning their skill-sets through micro-learning—whether it’s on the employee’s desktop, laptop, pad, or smartphone.

Additionally, with the employer putting the consistent effort into the training program, with support from the top down, the employees will feel like you care for them. You’re investing in them personally—in their education, in their growth as an employee, and in their growth as a person. You want to see them succeed and you’re demonstrating that with your professional development training program.

Once you implement, restructure, or fine-tune your professional development training program, make sure you follow-up with your employees. Send out employee questionnaires or surveys. Have a group or one-on-one discussions. Gather feedback. Make sure you do this regularly.

You want to continually monitor the program to see what’s working and what’s not. Some sections of the program may need to be tweaked, and some may need to be revamped. Additionally, you’ll get some great ideas from your employees for more content. They can identify other gaps in knowledge of which you may not be aware.

Bottom line, it’s a team effort. If your employees are learning, engaged, loyal, and advancing, then your company benefits. But you must communicate. Your employees need to feel at ease talking to you about training, and you need to follow-up with them. It’s an on-going relationship. The more you communicate and the more your train, there’s not stopping you. You’ve just set your employees and your company up for continued success.