According to David Ballard, head of APA’s Psychologically Healthy Workplace Program, having opportunities for growth and development in an organization can build employees’ knowledge, skills and abilities. In turn, this can be applied to new situations that can increase motivation, job satisfaction and the ability to manage job stress, because employees have the necessary resources to do their jobs.

“All this can translate again for the organization as well. It improves organizational effectiveness [and] work quality, and the organization also can be positioned as an employer of choice,” Ballard said. “It can attract and retain the best employees and that’s what it takes to have a competitive advantage today.”

I am encouraged by two things in this article from Chief Learning Officer magazine.  First, it focuses on learning instead of training.  Organizations do not get the most of their “training” team if their responsibilities are limited to training.
Training is reactive.
Training is compliance-focused.
Training meets the minimum requirements.

Learning is proactive.
Learning is empowering.
Learning is growth oriented.

The second point I find encouraging is the link between learning and business results.  This is an extension of the first point.  Employees who are given opportunities to grow professionally (learn new things) are more likely to enjoy their work, are more motivated, and have a higher level of engagement.  That sounds happy doesn’t it?  Happy employees want to improve their business results.  Unhappy employees are apathetic.  Unhappy employees aren’t excited about their work.  Unhappy employees are looking for a new job.  How can you grow your business with this kind of employee?

The article provides four best practices for providing a healthy work environment: good assessment, tailoring, strategic implementation, and evaluation.  Interestingly, they reflect at a high level the phases of performance improvement.  Coincidence?

There is one point in the quote above I want to touch on.  Mr. Ballard references “knowledge, skills, and abilities.”  Skills are abilities.  This is a common error made in learning circles so I am not surprised to see this perpetuated by someone who is not a learning professional.  There are three aspects to learning: knowledge, skills, and attitudes.  This is interesting because the whole point of this article is the positive impact learning has on employee attitudes.