4 min read

Retain your talent with a professional learning plan


One of the top reasons employees look to make a job change is a lack of opportunity to develop and show their skills. 

People want a sense of fulfillment from how they spend their time, and the time they spend at work is no different. This need is partly why an expert claimed the next generation of the workforce will work 40 other jobs across ten different career paths in their lifetime—employees will be willing to move to find out where they most feel personally and professionally satisfied.

While this might have you thinking about employee turnover and attrition rates, there lies a golden opportunity for employers within this statistic. If you commit to developing talent, you have a higher chance of keeping it.

Pro sports teams have farm systems where the next up-and-coming star is allowed to learn, make mistakes, and develop in a controlled environment. So you too can be creating the next big piece of your organization, starting with a solid learning plan.


Also check out: The Accounting Firm's Intro Guide to Hiring & Retaining Premium Talent


Three levels of a learning plan

Just like people, a learning plan needs to be layered. 

To ensure your program will be robust and successful, it should tend to the wants and needs of each individual. For example, while some employees will look to develop specific skills, others will be striving for certifications they can use for resumes and salary negotiation. And don’t forget the people who simply want to achieve a better work-life balance.

With a learning plan covering professional development, CPE credits, and personal development, you’re guaranteeing value for your employees. Here’s how to incorporate all three effectively.


1. Professional development

Career paths are fluid and unpredictable. While not everyone can jump from code-cracker to CEO, what people do for work in the present day is not necessarily an indicator of what they’ll be doing in the next five years.


This unpredictability can cause angst and unrest in employees, and the best way to combat it is to show them you have a path forward. First, consider a learning plan that indicates what skills they will develop and the career it will open up. 

Remember that the skills you try to build will vary from employee to employee with professional development. Each bookkeeper wanting to be an accountant will need different skill sets depending on their long-term aspirations. Making inferences from the reports they generate is better for someone who wants to get into advisory, while participating in audits could help someone get into forensic accounting.


2. CPE credits

CPE credits are a significant aspect of professional, certified career paths. They prove that individuals are taking steps to stay up-to-date with their profession, improving themselves for maximum efficacy and compliance.


Quick fun fact (if you’re one of the few who find Google search autocomplete fun), when typing in “how to get CPE credits,” the two top suggestions are “how to get CPE credits free” and “how to get CPE credits fast.” 

There are two takeaways here. The first is that no one wants to spend money getting their CPE credits despite how essential CPE credits are for specific careers. 

The second is that people don’t have a plan for their CPE credits and likely think they can do them last minute with the same composure of a caffeine-addled college student pulling an all nighter.

You hold the solution to both of these common problems. A learning plan that facilitates getting CPE credits would be accessible and pre-planned, so your employees would constantly progress toward their requirements. Planning takes a weight off your team’s shoulders. And taking an active role highlights how committed you are to their success.


3. Personal development

After workplaces went remote in 2020, work and personal life became increasingly intertwined. Suddenly, commutes were bearable, but at the price of having your desk two steps away from the couch.

However, even before we started to take our work home, personal and professional fulfillment were hand in hand, often with one affecting our ability to bring our best to the other. So you won’t see the best performance from someone struggling to maintain personal fulfillment.

Because of this interconnectivity of the personal and professional worlds, it’s important to show commitment to the wellbeing of your employees by offering opportunities for personal development. 


Maybe it’s learning a new language with Duolingo or getting professional coaching with Bravely. It can be career-related or just something they’ve always wanted to learn but never had the time.

Sometimes this will benefit the workplace, like being able to take on Spanish-speaking clients once the worker has mastered the language, but frequently it ensures the worker is bringing in their “best self” every single day.

Most importantly, it shows that you prioritize the wellbeing of those in your organization beyond their output. This effort makes people feel cared for, which in turn makes them want to commit to your workplace and reciprocate that care.


Developing a plan with a teammate

So now you know what to include in a learning plan, but that’s only half the battle. A learning plan still needs structure to keep everyone involved accountable and committed to the program.

  • Before you “launch” a learning plan, share clear documentation where everyone involved can input information. 

  • Create or use performance review templates tailored to your needs. This document should be a place for peer and self-review of how the learning is going.

  • Add supporting documentation with next steps, timelines, and expectations. Pick out some resources like webinars, readings, or online courses and set deadlines for completion. 


Talent tends to perform better when appreciated

Investing in the talent of workers pays off on at least two levels. First, members of the team who gain skills useful to the company add direct value to your firm. Gaining skills also helps your staff gain fulfillment in how and where they work—improving retention.


But for learning plans to work, you need to invest time in the process, routinely have check-ins, and ensure everyone can balance their responsibilities. Many accounting firms would love to establish a learning plan for members of the organization but likely struggle to find the time to set them up.

With new technologies, you can win back time to develop talent. For example, Botkeeper can give back the hours spent on categorization, report generation, and forecasting. Reach out today if you want to free up time.


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