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Justifiable expenses

  • SIMA
- Posted: February 18, 2018
By Phil Harwood, CSP

I believe whole-heartedly in professional development at all levels. Every person has unique value and untapped potential waiting to be discovered. Each person brings value and is worth the investment. 

I also believe that it is a huge mistake to avoid investing in professional development. When people are invested in and developed, their engagement improves, performance is enhanced and retention escalates. Ignore this reality at your own peril. 

I’ve written extensively on this topic and will continue to do so. My own career has been impacted significantly by investments in my professional development. I know that these investments not only benefited me in my career but also the company who made the investment. In fact, I would argue that the return on the investment for the company was at least 10 times their investment. 

However, I continually run into snow contractors who seem to have an aversion to professional development. For various reasons, they believe that it’s not worth the investment and that companies should not invest in professional development. In this article, I’d like to consider the common reasons for not making these investments. 

Reason #1 - Our turnover is too high.
Temporary, seasonal-only employees should be excluded from professional development plans. But for permanent employees, if all of them are provided an opportunity to grow and develop a career path, turnover will be greatly reduced. Professional development plans, if effectively implemented, enhance retention significantly. 

Reason #2 - There isn’t enough time.
There is never enough time for everything; but time management is all about setting priorities. What could be more important than optimizing your people? Surely, other things that are less important are sucking up your time. Look at what you’re spending time on and make some adjustments. Time is available. You just need to free it up. 

Reason #3 - I’m sick of employees quitting after I’ve invested in them.
When a person leaves, it hurts. But it isn’t logical to conclude that by not investing in your people, by not developing them or by not providing them with a career path, you will keep them longer or be less frustrated when they quit. If you don’t invest in your people, someone else will. 

Reason #4 - We don’t have the budget for professional development.
Professional development comes at a cost; however, consider the cost of losing an employee and having to replace them, on-board them, train them and hope they are a good fit. Studies show that replacement costs are substantially more than most owners/managers realize. The cost of professional development is much lower than the cost of replacing an employee. 
Reason #5 - There aren’t any good professional development options for my people.
Options may be limited, but those that exist are solid. SIMA, for example, offers many opportunities for professional development. SIMA members can take advantage of a discount for many of these opportunities. Ideally, opportunities are provided for each person at each level in the organization, supported by a career path. Is professional development worth the investment? Absolutely.

Download a free career path template here. Use it as a starting point and customize it to meet your needs.
Phil Harwood, CSP, is a managing partner of Pro-Motion Consulting Inc. Email him at
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