When you take a hard look at your compensation, you probably focus on the tangible rewards. You total up your base pay, bonus, commission, stock options, benefits, and perks to calculate your total comp. But I’d suggest there’s another element to compensation that is one of the most important components of all… your Learning Income.
If two people with identical jobs at two different companies get the same pay, you may think their compensation is equal. But if one has rich learning opportunities, enjoys mentoring and professional development session, and has the chance to learn and grow while the other merely cranks out the hours, I’d argue that their overall rewards are radically different. In the former case, the total value received may actually be double or more than that of the clock-puncher who gets today’s work done but learns nothing for tomorrow.
As we yearn for more in our careers, companies, and communities, we should consider Learning Income as a key part of the mix. The core question to ask: what is the ratio of learning value to your current pay? Ideally, you’re learning value should be at least the same as your base compensation. If you make $55,000 per year, you want to ensure you’re getting at least $55,000 worth of valuable learning as well. Those learning dollars don’t have to represent hard costs such as college credits or books, but could be intrinsic growth, experiences, new ideas and practical knowledge. If you make sure that the overall value of both traditional and hands-on learning exceeds your taxable income, your future will be bright.
Of course, the responsibility isn’t only that of your employer. If you push yourself to learn and grow, you can extract maximum learning income. Take the initiative and make it your own responsibility to maximize this important aspect of your total compensation. Don’t wait for an invitation, but rather make it a key job responsibility to mine every ounce of learning from each professional situation.
As employers, we should also keep the notion of Learning Income front and center. To attract and retain the best and brightest, make sure you’re offering a learning opportunity that is as exciting as base pay or perks. Further, employee loyalty skyrockets when people know their company cares about professional development and growth.
If we yearn to earn, we must yearn to learn. Ensure that you maximize learning, both as an individual and as an organization, and the earnings will follow as a direct result. Each new idea, lesson, insight, experience, and a-ha moment builds your knowledge bank account, which will pay handsome dividends for years to come.
Yearn. Learn. Earn.