For years, the business cartoon I kept on my desk involves 2 managers talking to each other. The first one says, “We can’t spend money on training. If we do, our employees will take advantage of the opportunity and then leave.” The second manager replies, “What if we don’t provide training and they stay?”

Like many things in the business world, this cartoon has become outdated. Our current workforce isn’t satisfied to remain static in their job or at their company. While employee’s values and beliefs have changed, a company’s need to stay competitive has not. Yet it’s not uncommon for me to hear a comment like, “Why should I provide training for my employees? We’ve done fine without it. My employees just need to do their job.”

What these mangers are missing is that today’s employees are not merely motivated by a paycheck. Today’s workforce is looking for more. Today’s employees need to find personal satisfaction in their job and have opportunities for professional development. Unlike the wisdom shared in the cartoon, NOT getting the opportunity to grow won’t decrease turnover. In fact, failing to provide training and development opportunities is exactly the reason our best employees WILL leave and keep our organization from growing. Training and development is no longer a “nice to have” or even the “extra that will give us the competitive advantage.” Providing development opportunities for our employees has become a critical benefit that many people expect- and some even prefer- over other perks like additional vacation or flexible work schedules.

Gallup has been studying employee engagement for over 50 years.  One example of a Gallup research project began  in 1970 when they interviewed new hires about their view of jobs, careers, and workplace motivation. Gallup has continued to ask these questions to members of the different generations as they have entered the workforce and recently published the answers from 1970 and 2016. The differences in responses in less than half a century, shows a stark change in attitude

1. When asked, Why do you work? The 1970 group answered, “For money or to collect a paycheck.”  The 2016 control group responded, “To discover and live my purpose.”

2. When Gallup asked, Who hired you for your position? The folks from the ’70’s said, “My Boss.”  The Millennials overwhelmingly said, “My Coach.”

3. The group from the 1970’s explained that,”Their weaknesses” were the areas they needed to focus on. While the group from 2016 preferred to focus on “Their strengths and natural talents.”

4. When asked what the employer could do to ensure stability or decrease staff turnover the 1970’s answer was, “Promise me job security” while the group from 2016 answered, “Provide me opportunities to grow and learn.”  (

Here’s your answer to “Why development? Why now?” Today’s workers…today’s manager’s…tomorrow’s leaders- expect opportunities to explore and learn. The want to work collaboratively with mentors and coaches to discover their natural talents. They want to leverage their passion to drive a team’s success and keep your  company globally competitive. But they won’t do it if they aren’t motivated in a way that speaks to them. 

So, while I am left searching for a new favorite cartoon to put on my desk, I am happy with the new mode of thinking. Simply put, if you want an engaged productive work force that isn’t looking for the next best thing somewhere else- invest in their development, bring in training opportunities, and allow them the opportunity to grow your business.

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