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CFO: What if we invest in our employees, and then they leave?

CEO: What if we don’t and they stay?

This joke has certainly made the rounds over the years, from professional meetings and trade shows to employee engagement seminars and blogs. Even so, there are always people who have not heard it because you see expressions that suggest they just had an “aha moment.”

There are a surprising number of companies today, big and small, who continue to treat their employees as an expense, not as an asset, and invest little or no money to help them to improve their performance and grow professionally. In a robust economy, those near-sighted organizations can stay in business, but when times are tough, they are usually the first companies to go out of business much as they are today. Thankfully, there are plenty of professional development courses out there that you could choose to enroll employees in which could help to keep your workforce ahead of the game.


If you work for an organization that sees no real value in helping you grow, you are working for the wrong people. The longer you stay, the more you compromise your future.

Before we rush to a call to action to jump into the market to look for a new job, there is some important context to understand. When times are tough –the economy is in the Covid-19 dumps, and unemployment remains a huge issue, and probably will be distressed for the next year — you need to be cautious. You do not abandon a building because you smell a hint of smoke nor do you rush into the path of a tornado.

Develop a plan of action before you act. OK, it sucks that your company does not care enough to invest in you, but it does not mean that you have a free pass to the front of the employment line. There are plenty of ways to upskill yourself and one way to do so is to enroll yourself in a certified university like the Dominican University of California (for more info, for one or more professional development courses. YOUR professional development is ultimately YOUR responsibility. YOU must invest in yourself.

Here are three steps:

  1. Read, Read Read, listen, listen and listen, and then read and listen some more. Be curious. There is an astounding amount of free information on the web in the form of articles and webinars. If you live in an internet deprived town, go to the library for the internet, look for books in your field, or go to a bookstore. The latter can serve as a library with a free internet connection if you buy enough coffee, you are nice to the salesclerks and occasionally buy a book.
  2. Find a mentor in your field with ample experience who is generous in spirit. These mentors can prove game-changing, but you must be willing to invest the time to find the right person and be prepared to follow their guidance. No one, even those executives who firmly believe in giving back to their profession, wants to waste their time. Be responsible, be focused, and be grateful.
  3. Manage your time and priorities. The excuse of not having enough time is a non-starter. You have the same amount of time everyone has. You must make a commitment and then manage your time. We want to be devoted to our families but remember the phrase work-life balance incorporates the word “balance.” Your family is important but so is your ability to be a good provider. Find that balance.