Why do we desire personal development and growth?
Is it the feeling of accomplishment we have when we realise we are smarter today than we were yesterday? Or perhaps it gives us the validation we require to fulfil a job? Maybe personal development is the expression of self-love? Or better yet, it brings us closer to identifying our purpose?
I am going to make the argument that while all the above are true, the most accurate of all is the latter point. Personal development, at its core, is about working to improve, to grow physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. This in turn helps us identify who we are, how we want to turn up, and what we want to contribute.
It is a goal that demands dedication, consistency and grit. It is not a quick fix. Rather, a commitment to change our lives. And what better motivation can there be to do that than to discover our purpose.
After all, true purpose is a long-term goal that combines 2 essential elements:
- It is an intention that is meaningful to the individual
- It has a consequence on the world that is beyond the self.
Its discovery in relation to ourselves gives us meaning. Hence, employers and employees alike need to start really investing in personal development and facilitating the discovery of meaning.
There are multiple reasons why individuals need to start looking within to be able to participate and show up with stronger intentions. This is particularly important given the rising number of mental health conditions in the Millennial and Gen Z age groups, which contribute immensely to mounting levels of organisational turnover. These two generations are profoundly in search of a solution, and personal development offers it.
Employers that can facilitate these conversations are going to be ahead of the game when it comes to employee engagement, retention, success, loyalty and the attraction of motivated, new talent. Company culture is important in allowing for the growth and development of skills and qualities.
Here are a few creative ideas employers could implement into the culture strategies today:
1. Create a speaker’s corner
Where individuals can share personal experiences, workshops, knowledge and bring well-known speakers to tackle the subject of internal personal development. This space should not be limited to professional topics alone, but include personal goals.
2. Establish happiness circles
Where employees can discuss and learn from each other’s mindsets. These circles can be formed within the team, and must be voluntary but also open to everyone. The organiser must be committed to the circle and ensure consistent gathering.
3. Develop a Meaning Lab
So individuals can experience varying purpose seeking methods. Among other things, your team can:
- Share knowledge;
- Share soul searching experiences;
- Have access to books;
- Have discussions which they can share online;
- Inspire each other.
The purpose of this space should be to serve as a purpose workshop space and must have all the tools to allow for the user to engage fully.
4. Organise a hobby festival
Where employees can share some of their hobbies with their colleagues and inspire each other. This is also a great opportunity for employers to see what talents their employees have that could benefit their company in the long term. This is exactly the sort of development employers should embed into the organizational culture.
5. Invest in the personal hobbies of talented employees.
In the long run, helping employees polish skills and knowledge they enjoy and want to develop creates loyal, creative and motivated employees. These skills can then be put to use by giving them the opportunity to deploy them at work
6. Invite external experts and specialists
That can help employers make a genuine impact in the sphere of personal growth. Allow for employees to vote or recommend experts they would like to learn from and maybe put some budget aside for it as well.
All these initiatives are helpful at encouraging individuals to delve deeper within themselves and search for what truly is authentic to them. They give employees an opportunity to constantly develop and search for themselves safely in their work environments while taking full ownership of their personal development plan.
It engages employees in a creative manner during their rest time and ensures that individuals within the company can meet each other in spaces that feel more authentic to them. In the long-term, this generates a healthy company culture that has a flourishing workforce that is loyal, creative, inspired and happy.
What is important to note is that employers may witness high turnover in the immediate term as a consequence of implementing some of the previous suggestions. However, this is a good sign because employees that were not the right fit and do not authentically want to contribute to the company will leave.
The ones that will remain will be individuals who truly relate to the company’s purpose and believe in the future of the organisation. Organisations that do this will also start attracting the right type of talent and will be able to identify better-matched talent as well, after which employee retention will soar.
“Letting the wrong people hang around is unfair to all the right people, as they inevitably find themselves compensating for the inadequacies of the wrong people. Worse, it can drive away the best people. Strong performers are intrinsically motivated by performance, and when they see their efforts impeded by carrying extra weight, they eventually become frustrated.”
― Jim Collins, Good to Great