Why you should ask your employer to invest in you (and why they should listen)

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You are surfing the internet for information or references that you need for your new role in a company, and you come across an interesting course in your field. Reading the description, you notice that it could provide exactly the kind of training you need to fill that gap in your knowledge of those trickier parts of financial analysis, or perhaps it tackles a newer, more complicated strategic thinking approach that you are eager to learn – one that your job requires. You click on the course’s details, only to discover that it costs quarter your salary, so you decide to postpone the idea until further notice.

If – like most jobs- your job requires constant growth, and your workplace doesn’t provide regular training schemes, neither does it allocate part of its budget for upskilling its employees for whatever reason, then chances are you have found yourself in the above situation at least once throughout your career.

Many employees join new workplaces with the goal of “growing” in the company. However, many find themselves compelled to leave earlier than planned. This happens for a variety of reasons, but one common reason why employees are more inclined to look for a better opportunity elsewhere is the feeling that they are stuck, underappreciated, and have nothing new to learn, or add. Their fresh keenness on learning new skills gets depleted and they are left with routine tasks and, consequently, no chance of moving to a higher position in their company.

Rasha Abul Nasr, a certified facilitating career development instructor at Pillars Consultancy, believes that there are many solutions to this dilemma; the top one being to pay special attention to the learning and development of employees, or, in other words, investing in them, and catering to their career needs.
“Even though it’s the human resources (HR) department that should be responsible for this task, it should not do it in the conventional way. HR departments should start including a section for career advising. This means that one-on-one meetings should be held with each employee upon which a portfolio of their own is created. This portfolio should include their career goals and skill gaps (where they are now and where they should be in the medium and long run, in terms of skills and position in the company). These elements should be translated into a development plan tailored for their unique needs,” Abul Nasr says, and adds “Having a specific development plan not only benefits the company by enhancing employees’ performance thus making more profit, but it also makes employees feel ‘human’, and when employees feel looked after and appreciated, they become loyal to the company, and enthusiastic to give it more. This would eventually leave a positive impact on retention rates.”

Investing in humans means investing in the most important asset a company has. That’s what Mohyielden Mahmoud El Araby, Chief Commercial Officer at the well-known electronics conglomerate El Araby Group, believes. El Araby has been working in his field for nearly 30 years. In his long years of work, he observed the outcome of successful investment in human skills and learning. In 2013/2014, El Araby pursued the Executive Master of Business Administration program (EMBA) offered by the American University in Cairo School of Business, to develop his skills so he can get a better grasp on various aspects, not only of his role in the company, but on a broader scale. El Araby was among the first batch of EMBA graduates, and came out thrilled about all the ways he can implement what he learned in his everyday work and how it changed the way he views the bigger picture.

“EMBA, in a very intense way, allows you to learn everything that has to do with business. It covers the whole sector,” El Araby says, appreciating the holistic thinking approach he acquired from the program and adds, “After completing this one-and-a-half-year program, it was like the massive puzzle in front of me was finally assembled in one coherent, specific piece. I had a clearer, deeper understanding of how exactly the work process goes, and this made me feel empowered and more in control of my job,” he said. Several other executives in El Araby group joined later rounds of the EMBA to broaden their horizons, bringing knowledge and ideas to themselves and the company.

Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case for employees, even those working in large corporates. For many employees who want to grow, taking a course or a master’s degree (which is often a pre-requisite for job promotion) is something they have to bear the financial burden of alone. They also have to find ways they can fit their new learning goal into their jammed work schedules and busy lives outside their company’s working hours.

What is the reason that some employers do not prioritize providing training, educational opportunities, and relevant courses for employees with potential? Rasha Abul Nasr answers by saying that there is no excuse. “Many employers claim under false pretense that the lack of funds is their problem, but the truth is there are thousands of free, reliable platforms out there that provide everything an employer needs to upskill and reskill their employees. Often times, employees aren’t even aware of the skills they need to work on, so they end up taking irrelevant courses or going in a generally wrong direction. This is all because of the lack of guidance that a company itself should provide for its employees,” Abul Nasr said.

In a report titled “Great Attrition or Great Attraction?” on attracting and retaining talents in a company, the global management consulting firm McKinsey and Company, a global management consulting firm, said that attracting talent in 2022 is a difficult process, but keeping them can be even harder. “These new employees may leave without the opportunity to grow. Our research shows that a primary driver of quitting is that employees do not have opportunities to learn new things or find their work interesting or challenging. Similarly, research shows that turnover is significantly less likely when employees have internal mobility,” McKinsey and Company’s report said.

In this day and time, employees are more aware than ever of the importance of being treated fairly instead of being consumed by the entity they work for, be it a small startup or a large corporate. “Employees seek to work with leaders not just bosses, and leaders adopt personalized approaches with their subordinates. When you sit with your team, the first thing you have to do is look at your employees’ development. This makes them feel part of a team. They become more excited, dedicated, energized, and satisfied with their job, and that’s a recipe for success,” Abul Nasr said.
To learn more about the Executive MBA program, click here.

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