Career Development: ROI? How About ROP? Return on Potential

February 3rd, 2020

Everyone in HR has been so focused on ROI, the holy grail for getting buy-in from higher-ups on everything from a new learning management system to the latest AI technology for routine HR tasks, that it’s easy to overlook there’s another powerful “RO” out there — Return on Potential. By shifting your mindset from ROI to ROP, you’ll be investing in the development, training, and career pathing of your employees, which is more important now than ever before.

That’s because it’s a job seekers’ market out there, and that trend doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. The best and the brightest (and even the good enough and the average) can go elsewhere easily. A new report by Forbes magazine says to prepare for the fact that millennials will be ship-jumpers, and while we can do that, being prepared doesn’t change the fact that it’s a bummer when good people leave, not only in terms of morale but also in terms of downtime while you hunt for a replacement, and even more downtime while that replacement gets up to speed. Generational preferences will come and go, but that won’t ever change. So it will always behoove you to do whatever you can to keep your good people.

A few stats about the job market, according to LinkedIn:

  • 87 percent of the workforce is open to new job opportunities – a silly stat if you ask us because it always a question of degree
  • The top reason people change jobs is because a better opportunity comes along
  • The top reasons for accepting that new opportunity are salary, professional development, and work/life balance

In HR, you’re probably already doing industry salary comparisons and making sure you’re offering competitive compensation packages or you’ve got a hiring nightmare on your hands. And if you’re not tending to your employees’ work/life balance, get on that right now. But, what about professional development? How strong is your career development program?

We’ve found that a solid career development program makes employees feel empowered about their own careers and ups their engagement in the workplace. The best career development programs have three elements:

Career planning: It begins with employees’ self-discovery, leading them to figure out where they are now and where they want to be. Even if you don’t have all the bells and whistles of a full-blown career development platform, you can do one easy thing right now to get you started. Ask your employees to do some thinking about where they want to be in your company in three, four and five years. Then ask them to write it down. What do they need to get there? New soft or technical skills? More experience in the field? Whatever it is, write that down, too. Boom. You’ve got aspirational goals and steps to take to achieve them.

Execution and development: This is where the coaching becomes especially important, bringing accountability to the process and driving the utilization of the learning tools that you have provided. Studies have shown that the combination of writing down goals and receiving regular check-ins from a coach about those goals make people 78 percent more successful in achieving them.

Course correction: It’s not always going to go in a straight line. Employees’ career development programs need to be flexible and responsive enough to pivot when necessary.

By supporting your employees in this way, you are enabling and motivating them to invest in themselves and to pull forward their potential, making them more valuable to you today. That is Return on Potential. And that’s one way to ensure they won’t be following another path out the door. Want to learn more? Read about our Career Development Solutions here.

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