Thursday, 7 August 2014

Are you equipped for the future of work?

The world around us is constantly changing. Some say we now live and work in a VUCA environment, characterised by:

  • volatility
  • uncertainty
  • complexity
  • ambiguity

So how do businesses survive (and thrive) when nothing ever stands still? Perhaps part of the answer is in continuous learning and development, which can enable individuals to be agile and responsive to each and every challenge.

Continuing professional development (or CPD) enables you to take charge of your learning. Often CPD will involve a range of different activities which meet your specific needs, from enrolling on a formal training course, or qualification, to using social media to gain immediate insight on a topic. There is no one size fits all, and how you approach CPD will depend on your own preferences and goals.

There are, however, common benefits. Here I'll highlight six key reasons why CPD can support your development, and have a positive business impact.

Developing yourself

1. Setting goals
CPD enables you to spend time reflecting on your strengths and development needs, either from a technical or behavioural skill perspective. Through this process you can gain confidence through recognition of your existing abilities, and greater awareness of what you need to focus on next. This can help you to set clear and tangible goals, and be able secure the support you need to achieve these.

2. Career enhancement
The new skills or additional knowledge that you gain through CPD can help to support your career progression. Showcasing your achievements in the workplace may lead to new opportunities or increased recognition and credibility. Often this may mean moving to a bigger or broader role. You may also identify a new area of professional interest and decide to pursue this as a career option.

3. Future-proofing
The skills and knowledge required in the workplace are constantly changing in response to external factors, such as technological and economic development. CPD is a way of 'future-proofing' your skills, to keep up with the pace of chance. We don't know what jobs or skills will be needed in 10 years time, but we do know that enhancing your skills and knowledge will enable you to adapt whatever changes there are, as roles and organisational requirements evolve.

Developing your business

4. Learning culture
The benefits of CPD are not just confined to the individual. They also relate to the success of the organisation. Encouraging CPD across an organisation can help create a learning culture. This is an environment where learning is continual, expected of everyone and happens at every level. Having this focus on learning can enable an organisation to be more effective, as employees are better equipped to adapt and spot opportunities. It can also mean that there is more willingness to learn from experience, and see mistakes or failure as a developmental opportunity.

5. Maximising performance and potential
There is clearly a personal benefit to an employee developing and progressing in their career. However, there is also an equal gain for the organisation. CPD enables employees to keep their knowledge up to date, which in turn can drive greater performance in the workplace. It can also help 'unlock' potential through the development of enhanced skills. This can lead to a greater proportion of the workforce operating at their full potential.

6. Engagement and retention
CPD activities can also help support retention and engagement. A Spring 2014 Employee Outlook survey published by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (completed by 2,523 UK employees) found that just 35% consider themselves to be engaged and 21% are looking for a new job. This is clearly a significant issues, and one which can have a profound impact on productivity and recruitment costs. Effective CPD can enable an organisation meet this challenge and drive greater engagement and commitment, through enabling employees to develop themselves, meet their goals and progress in their career.

This blog provides just a snap-shot of the key benefits, and depending on the specific activity there are many more. For example, the value of networking with other professionals in training events, or the developmental gain from mentoring someone at the start of their professional career.

You might feel that these benefits are mitigated by the time investment in involved. But CPD
 does not need to be time intensive ; it's about the quality of the experience and how you use the development to enable you to thrive in changing times.

Ruth Stuart is the Research Adviser for Learning and Development at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.

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