Employee fulfilment and personal growth – establishing the right balance in a changing world

Having a career is about so much more than just turning up for work everyday and fulfilling a duty.

According to research, the average adult will spend more than a third of their lifetime at work and thoughts of starting a new career will cross someone’s mind approximately ten times a year!

With an increased focus on maintaining good mental health and establishing a better work/life balance it’s important to find a career that is meaningful and fulfilling for the personal and professional goals we set ourselves.

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As the old saying goes, ‘If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life’. Whilst there’s truth to be found in this saying, the reality is that none of us will enjoy every single day that we spend at work.

Even the things we love now can grow stagnant over time if we don’t evolve and develop our skill sets and knowledge in a world that is never going to stand still.

2020 has made us all aware of the fragility of the economy and how quickly it can change. This in turn is forcing individuals to reflect on their own personal needs as well as the skills they need to develop to adapt to whatever the future may bring.

Companies and individuals have been forced to think in new ways and it’s a critical time for considering what the next chapter is likely to bring and how employers and employees can work together to benefit each other’s goals.

Good employees are undoubtedly the lifeblood and most valuable asset within an organisation, and employers have a duty to ensure their staff remain supported, motivated, engaged and challenged.

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However, the fact remains that one in three UK businesses offer no employee training or development time, with a lack of budget being cited as the biggest reason.

In the current climate, protecting cash flow remains one of the biggest concerns for business owners and investing in staff training may not seem like a priority. But, keeping one eye on the future is critical and adding new training and additional skills into the mix may well bring significant benefits to the future success of a company.

It takes a lot of time and energy to build the team of your dreams and once you have the right people in place, you want to hang on to them for as long as you can.

smiling man standing between brown concrete buildings at daytime

These days employee motivation, engagement and job satisfaction isn’t just measured by status and salary.

In particular, Gen Z and millennials are likely to be committed to their personal learning, coupled with an expectation that it should form part of a professional development package offered by employers. This attitude should be applauded and can only serve to benefit the future success of our companies and the economy. After all, knowledge is power.

In a world where individual needs are very much front and centre of the workplace, being all things to all people can quickly become overwhelming for managers and owners.

Apple Magic Keyboard and Apple Magic Mouse on white table

Over the past four years, we have prioritised an employee first approach within ADPR. It has had its challenges and we have tried and tested many different methods. The key learning has been that trying to find a one size fits all approach is almost as impossible as fitting a square peg into a round hole.

On the flip side, we appear to have landed on something that works for us, and it turns out that all we needed was a complete change of mindset!

Being fair doesn’t mean giving everyone the same:

Gone are the days of treating everybody in the same way at all times. Today’s workplace is much more about the individual and what they need in order to be fulfilled.

For one person it might be regular praise, for another it might be all about training and some might just be happy to fulfil their role without any desire to progress or do more – that’s ok too.

Whatever the requirement, if individuals have what they want and need, they are less likely to compare themselves against what their colleagues may or may not have.

The only way to find out what individuals need and want is to talk to them!

Take some time to have regular one to ones with your employees and make it a meaningful conversation for both of you. The best relationships are always about give and take. Yes, your employees’ needs are important, but so are yours.

It’s ok to question how your investment will benefit the business and it’s ok to say no sometimes too. That’s life!

woman sitting around table holding tablet

It isn’t all about money:

Let’s be honest, not many people are going to object to being handed more money, but it isn’t the be all and end all. When you speak to your employees on a deeper level you will likely discover that their core motivations are based on finding meaning in their work and don’t come at significant, if any, cost to the business. Small tweaks can make a big difference. These are some that worked for us:

  • Flexible working hours
  • A ‘proud of jar’ to post notes of the positive things that happen each day
  • Bacon sandwich Fridays!
  • Internal knowledge sharing sessions
  • Signing MIND’s Time to Change Pledge to encourage discussions around mental health issues without judgement

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Encourage self-directed professional learning:

For those with a desire to keep learning, there are unlimited free resources available online. From TED Talks, videos and white papers to webinars and online conferences the possibilities for people to expand their knowledge are endless!

The reality is that most of us have signed up to things we want to learn more about, only to find ourselves without the time to attend, read or watch them.

Everyone should take some personal responsibility for their learning needs, but employers can help by carving out time for people to work on their professional development during working hours, encouraging them to do so and encouraging them to share their knowledge to benefit the business and to upskill their peers.

We have found monthly ‘lunch bite’ sessions to be a huge success. It’s a great opportunity to bring the team together and for employees to present their new learnings to the rest of the team.

We also take full advantage of training sessions provided by membership organisations such as The Somerset Chamber of Commerce and Inspire. These sessions cover a multitude of subjects combined with fantastic networking opportunities.

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Paid-for training and qualifications:

This is a sticky area for a lot of business owners. Most will have invested in training courses for employees who will attend anything on offer but fail to do anything with the new knowledge they receive. Another common complaint is employees moving on shortly after attending expensive training courses.

This approach allows employers and employees to tick a box, but isn’t going to deliver anything of real value to anyone and is more likely to lead to frustration and wasted money.

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Our top tips for ensuring a good return on training budgets:

Single day courses are great when it comes to providing foundational knowledge or a whistle stop tour through important developments and topics within a chosen profession. The downside is that they can be expensive and are often more theoretical than practical. If you’re based outside of a major city you also need to consider additional costs such as travel and accommodation.

Looking for courses that span over a few months (or longer) and provide a recognised qualification on completion will be more expensive, but can be hugely beneficial to both employer and employee, making them far more cost effective in the long term.

Gaining a recognised qualification will almost certainly involve home study and end point assessments on top of the day job. This shouldn’t be taken lightly and will require a level of commitment from the employee. But on completion they will have gained something of real value, both on a personal level and for the ongoing development of the business.

Times change and people move on, but this shouldn’t prevent you from investing in employees whilst they are with your company. Simply add a clause into their contract stating that 50% of the course fees will need to be repaid to the company if they leave within a certain time period.

At ADPR, we love to train and increase our knowledge. Each member of the team has a development plan aligned to their personal objectives and most are completing formal training programmes from diplomas, apprenticeships and even a mini MBA!

There has never been a more appropriate time to develop the skills you have within your existing team. Our businesses need to adapt to remain fit for the future and this will be far easier to achieve with a highly skilled and motivated team by your side

Every business has its own unique challenges and perhaps you need a bespoke product that touches on parts of two of more of our SME products. If this sounds like you, then look no further! Our Bespoke Business Blend Service is purposefully designed to create a tailored approach to work directly on getting you the success you need in multiple areas of your business.