People love to learn and they form a close bond with the organisation that helped them learn. We see this in schools, colleges and universities which have strong alumni networks. Many organisations could use this link to engage the workforce and create a powerful bond.
Here’s an exciting example of learning creating great results.
As a motivation technique (usually called Innovation Time Off), all Google engineers are encouraged to spend 20% of their work time (one day per week) on projects that interest them. Some of Google’s newer services, such as Gmail, Google News, and AdSense originated from these independent endeavours. In a talk at Stanford University, Marissa Mayer, Google’s Vice President of Search Products and User Experience, stated that her analysis showed that 50% of the new product launches originated from the 20% time.
I am surprised that more organisations don’t spot this powerful connection and do something about it. Too often the personal development opportunities offered by an organisation to its staff, serve to benefit only the organisation. They make the person better at doing what the organisation wants, with little or no regard for the person as a whole. There’s nothing personal about that.
Given the strong bond between learning and loyalty, opportunities for real personal development could be a useful way to engage and motivate staff. Much more fulfilling than the usual morally suspect financial incentives we tend to see trotted out. Pay people a decent salary; maybe include within that salary a small development fund. Give people time to develop, work on projects that interest them, and watch them grow into satisfied employees, acting as genuine advocates for the organisation.