Investing in Professional Development Leads to Higher Employee Retention, Business Performance

Employees value professional development now more than ever. Employers need to invest in employees' growth to reap mutually beneficial results.

Lee Stuart working with a group of adults during a class session

OVERLAND PARK (Feb. 13, 2019) – The KU Edwards Campus (KUEC) in Overland Park, Kansas, is helping local businesses invest in the professional development of their employees with its various leadership programs, including its newly launched University of Kansas Professional Leadership Certificate. For today’s employees, it’s not always about just making it through an eight-hour shift to collect a paycheck and relax at home. Many need more from their employment to remain with and give their best to their employer. To increase employee retention and productivity, employers must understand employees value professional development now more than ever.

Fifty-one percent of today’s workers are looking to leave their current jobs, according to a Gallup survey.  The chances employees will stick around are far higher with a strategic leadership training program. According to a Bridge study, offering career training and development would keep 86 percent of millennials from leaving their current position. In fact, a recent Udemy study revealed 42 percent of millennial employees say learning and development are the most crucial aspects when deciding where to work, followed by health insurance.

“They’re going to be more strategic critical thinkers for their company, and they’re going to say, ‘Hey, the company was willing to provide training and spend some money on my professional development,’” said Lee Stuart, leadership instructor at the KU Edwards Campus (KUEC) in Overland Park, Kansas. “Knowing this makes them a loyal employee.”

Stuart has spent more than 30 years working with all types and sizes of businesses in the private sector and said Kansas City businesses are beginning to understand improving soft skills needs to be a top priority for managing their multi-generational workforce.

One of those businesses is Arvest Bank, a financial institution with 17 branch sites in the Greater Kansas City area. Barbara Christ, the executive vice president of sales with Arvest, utilizes several of KUEC’s leadership programs for her employees and offers them the opportunity to complete The University of Kansas Professional Leadership Certificate.

“We have developed several levels of leadership programs either by developing them internally or coordinating with outside learning partners,” Christ said. “We believe this shows a commitment to supporting our associates in their growth, and it has increased retention as shown by our review of monthly turnover data.”

With today’s rapidly changing workplace, it’s difficult for employees to stay up-to-date on the latest technologies and skills needed for success in any industry or organization. Employers need to continually provide training opportunities for their associates including soft skills such as critical thinking and emotional intelligence.

“Our programs not only ensure our employees maintain relevant competencies and strengthen team dynamics, we see an increase in confidence, morale and teamwork,” Christ said. “This impacts our bottom line through the production of superior projects and improved efficiencies. We can document increased ROI through our P&L statements.”

Productive employees can also help your company by staying relevant in your industry, solving problems in useful ways and bringing value to your customers, all leading to sales growth.

“I think one of the things we do best is to help the participants in our program develop a different mindset,” Stuart said, “and that mindset, in turn, helps them go back to their organization and help create an environment in which they can thrive.”

For questions or more information, contact Hannah Lemon at or 913.897.8755​.

Top photo: Lee Stuart, leadership instructor at the KU Edwards Campus in Overland Park, teaches a variety of workshops developing professionals’ soft skills, which count toward the new KU Professional Leadership Certificate. Photo by Lindy Rhodes. 

About The University of Kansas
The University of Kansas is a major comprehensive research and teaching university. Its mission is to lift students and society by educating leaders, building healthy communities and making discoveries that change the world. The KU Edwards Campus at 127th Street and Quivira Road in Overland Park brings the high-quality academic, professional and continuing education programs as well as research and public-service benefits of KU to the Greater Kansas City community in order to serve the workforce, economic and community development needs of the region.

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