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What does it mean to Create Conditions for Growth?

The future of work is increasingly complex, geographically dispersed, digital and collaborative, and the demands of the work environment are constantly changing.1

To keep up with the changing nature of work, organisations need to change the way they approach employee learning and development and contribute to personal growth. This involves shifting from traditional, short-term fixed knowledge and skill acquisition models, to a focus on building capabilities for the future.2

Adopting a growth mindset will help organisations and individuals continue to meet the challenges of today and tomorrow, and stay relevant, competitive and employable.3

Key Strategies

The need to learn and grow is a natural process across a lifespan, and workplaces are one source of learning and growth for individuals.

Key strategies include:

  • strength-based development; and
  • support lifelong learning.

Why is it important to Create Conditions for Growth?

Research shows that all employees need opportunities to learn and grow at work.

The availability of growth opportunities is one of the main reasons why individuals change jobs.4 Workplaces that do not provide these opportunities risk increasing turnover, with employees exiting to seek out organisations that do offer these opportunities. Research shows that growth and development opportunities is a particular priority for millennial workers.5

It is impossible to separate work participation and learning.6 The opportunities the organisation provide for individual learning is key to utilising workplaces as sources of learning and growth for employees.7  Providing opportunities to learn in addition to other job resources such as high quality feedback, have found to be positively associated with greater work engagement- a state of work-related well-being that is linked with greater individual job performance.8,9

Organisations that take a strengths approaches to employee development have consistently been found to enhance overall individual well-being10

Fact

A global survey conducted by PwC, found that 52% of millennials stated that career growth and progression was the main attraction to an employer, coming ahead of competitive salaries.11

Research-backed strategies to Create Conditions for Growth in your workplace

Enable employees to build capabilities for the future by shifting from traditional, short-term fixed knowledge and skill acquisition, to a model of continuous development and lifelong learning.

Strength-based development

Strategies that allow employees to use their natural talents to become strengths have the potential to greatly improve productivity.12 A common way that organisations suppress productivity is failing to provide the opportunity for employees to be in roles that play to their inherent talents, abilities and strengths. Employees value the opportunity to apply their unique talents and strengths at work. However, the management perspective has historically been heavily focused on identifying and developing weaknesses, rather than strengths.13

Employees that use their strengths at work every day are more likely to be intrinsically motivated, engaged and more productive.14 The Gallup Organisation conducted a study of almost 50,000 business units in 45 countries, and reported that those work groups that received a strength-based intervention, observed a subsequent increases in sales by 10% to 19% and profits by 14% to 29%, in comparison to control groups.

According to Superfriend’s Indicators of a Thriving Workplace Survey (2018) found that only 18% of talents, skills & competencies of the workforce are well used.

Possible areas of action to develop a strengths-based approach in the workplace include:

  • review people management systems and processes;
  • assist employees to better understand their strengths and utilise them at work; and
  • provide strengths-based leadership training.

Resource

The Future of Work Institute has create a page of information available on strengths-based development, including a tool to help employees understand their strengths, and a guide for employers on developing employees with strengths in mind.

Lifelong learning

People by nature, are lifelong learners; they purposefully seek new knowledge and skills or attempt to transform themselves.15 Workplaces play a key role in promoting lifelong learning and personal growth through encouraging continuous learning and self-development.

Due to the fast pace and changing nature of work, performance standards are becoming more complex and demanding, and new technologies must be integrated into the organisation.16 This is an ongoing challenge for both individuals and organisations, making continuous learning critical.

Not only are opportunities for learning important for employee well-being, leaders that focus on creating opportunities for employees’ personal growth and career development enable workers to feel more empowered and engaged, making them less likely to leave the organisation.17

Despite the importance of growth opportunities, Superfriend’s Indicators of a Thriving Workplace Survey (2018), only 18% of leaders actively provide opportunities to develop professionally.

Possible areas of action to create conditions for growth in the workplace include:

  • review the learning and development function within your organisation; and
  • embed ongoing self-development opportunities – e.g. by mentoring, coaching.

Resource

See PwC’s discussion paper on the need for embedding continuous learning opportunities for employees in our resource section.

Fact

According to a recent global survey, learning in the workplace is key indicator of general life satisfaction and positive well-being18

Resource

At the Future of Work Institute our researchers have been examining the skills that both employees and organisations need to consider in order to thrive in a changing work landscape. To read more about how fostering growth through future skills click here.

References

  1. Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PWC). (2018). Workforce of the future: The competing forces shaping 2030.
  2. Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PWC). (2011) Millennials at work: Reshaping the workplace.
  3. Lave, J. (1993). The practice of learning. In S. Chaiklin & J. Lave (Eds.), Understanding Practice: Perspectives on Activity and Context, (pp. 3-32). Cambridge:  Cambridge University Press, Cambridge
  4. Billett, S. (2001). Learning through work: Workplace affordances and individual engagement. Journal of workplace learning, 13(5), 209-214.
  5. Billett, S. (2001). Learning through work: Workplace affordances and individual engagement. Journal of Workplace Learning, 13(5), 209-214.
  6. Demerouti, E., Cropanzano, R., Bakker, A., & Leiter, M. (2010). From thought to action: Employee work engagement and job performance. Work engagement: A handbook of essential theory and research, 65, 147-163.
  7. Quinlan, D., Swain, N., & Vella-Brodrick, D. A. (2012). Character strengths interventions: Building on what we know for improved outcomes. Journal of Happiness Studies, 13(6), 1145-1163.
  8. The Gallup Organisation. (2017). State of the Global Workplace.
  9. Seligman, M. E. P., Steen, T. A., Park, N., & Peterson, C. (2005). Positive Psychology progress: Empirical validation of interventions. American Psychologist, 60, 410–421
  10. The Gallup Organisation. (2017). State of the Global Workplace.
  11. London, M., & Sessa, V. I. (2006). Continuous learning in organizations: A living systems analysis of individual, group, and organization learning. In Multi-level issues in social systems (pp. 123-172). Emerald Group Publishing Limited.
  12. London, M., & Sessa, V. I. (2006). Continuous learning in organizations: A living systems analysis of individual, group, and organization learning. In Multi-level issues in social systems (pp. 123-172). Emerald Group Publishing Limited.
  13. The Gallup Organisation. (2017). State of the Global Workplace
  14. Helliwell, J., Layard, R., and Sachs, J. (Eds.) (2017). World Happiness Report 2017 .
Next step

Implement

Get started with implementing the Thrive at Work Initiative in your workplace.