In what many call The Great Resignation, workers (primarily those of the Millennial age) everywhere are resigning in droves. The reasonings provided for this trend are speculative, along with the coherence of the movement itself.
Some claim that this is a misguided attempt to diagnose the trend of people moving onto higher-paying work. (Thus not quitting in a traditional sense). In contrast, others note that Americans are turning in resignations at a rate never seen before. And at a rate that has not appeared to slow.
Just as record amounts of dissatisfaction came following the Spanish Flu, so too are we at a crossroads between old work strategies and a long-term future of dealing with the COVID-19 virus, stagnating wages, and increased inflation. It seems we cannot cleanly point to the divide in the workforce that spurred the mass resignations of the 1920s. To understand the interplay between work and life for a millennial generation; we have to consider emotional factors that simply weren’t at the forefront of discussion a century ago.
As the title of this blog suggests, we will look at how some companies are exploring a “personal development” allowance. To attract, retain, and offer growth to employees during a tumultuous time for businesses everywhere.
What Is A Personal Development Allowance?
A personal development allowance is a fund that offers employees a no-strings-attached chance to expense the company for enrichment activities that may or may not be directly applicable to their work. These funds may be allocated by employers yearly or after employees meet specific qualifications. The emphasis is not on traditional ROI like a business expense. Instead, they are geared towards creating opportunities for personal wellness and excellence in employee lives.
Caren Maio of Nestio, for example, offers employees $1,000 yearly for development opportunities. Each expense is signed off by hand and has included everything from karate lessons to pottery classes. To her, there is no limit to what employees can do with this money “except for the expectation that employees spend [it] on something that leads to personal improvement.”
Her reasoning focuses on the “M-word” of modern workplaces—millennials. The generation in question reports higher rates of job dissatisfaction, feelings of work/life imbalance, and general pessimism that has never been seen in older workforces. Some have drawn arguments that Millennials represent a threat to their workplaces. While others attest that higher technological awareness and emotional intelligence build smarter brands. This debate isn’t for us to solve—besides, there may not be much of an answer either way. For our purposes today, the takeaway is that millennial workers are more likely to be incentivized to take these offers and stay at workplaces that encourage this type of personal growth.
Does This Strategy Work?
The long and the short is “maybe.” We have known for decades that incentives help attract and retain talent. Visibility from managers and fellow team members goes a long way towards an employee feeling engaged in their work and incentivized to perform to their fullest.
On the other hand, we know that these strategies do not directly lead to increased performance. They must be coupled with a personal account and appreciation of employee impact in some form. Leadership goes a long way in making contributions felt.
The strategy of personal development allowances goes beyond this dichotomy of ROI in helping encourage work-life balance. It accomplishes balance by reminding employees that they are valued as human beings independently of their work output. In other words, while they may be a sales representative, they are encouraged to learn to surf or cook advanced Italian dishes as well. Anything that helps them feel at home in their skin.
What Do You Think?
While it may be too early to study the long-term effects of these strategies, it is at least anecdotally helpful (if not persuasive to you personally) to hear of these project successes across the professional sector.
Our question is, “what do you think?”
As ethics take on more importance in the consumer purchasing cycle, this trend will (and has been) matched by equitable moves forward in the workplace.
Do you have any other examples of ethical businesses investing in their people the same way they would in their supply chain? With diversity, ethics, and fairness at the forefront? Let us know by emailing us.
Ethical Inc. pursues excellence in everything we do—from work-life balance to customer health. Learn more about our strategies online. Or shop here for ethical supplements that help you live with a little more balance in your life, whatever it may look like.