Smart companies are paying attention to work-life fulfillment and how to create the best possible employee experience. However, the dialogue usually encompasses things like alternative work hours or taking pets to work. As I researched and wrote my book on work-life fulfillment, I found plenty of options that add up to fulfillment in an employee’s work life, from creating a greater sense of purpose to leveraging technology in new ways.

One of the most overlooked ways to enable greater satisfaction with work and life is through providing training and development opportunities. In fact, companies developing holistic approaches to training and development are doing themselves a dual service: creating a competitive advantage through upskilled employees and establishing insightful approaches to their work life as well. Here’s why.

Why It Matters

Learning Is Motivating

One of the dynamics that leads to burnout is feeling like there is no path forward. Learning programs offer employees the opportunity to see what might lie ahead if they improve their skills.

Development Programs Expand Horizons

The strongest development programs offer opportunities for learners not only to deepen their core skills and existing areas of expertise but also to expand their skills in new areas — resulting in feelings of increased work-life satisfaction. After all, it’s energizing to find out you have skills in new areas you may not have previously tapped.

Training Offers New Connections

A primary contributor to work-life fulfillment is our connections with other people, and training is the perfect venue to meet colleagues and form new relationships. For example, a technology class can offer the opportunity for someone from finance to meet someone from operations or for someone from human resources (HR) to meet someone from information technology (IT). These types of connections — with people from outside an employee’s network — are the stuff of work-life fulfillment. Work is fundamentally social, and the connections we make through our work are one of its rewards.

Training Demonstrates That the Company Cares

Ensuring employees maintain their expertise and skills is good for the company for obvious reasons, but having a structured curriculum also sends messages to employees about how much the company values them, their skills and their contributions. Learning requires investment on the part of the company (as well as the employee), which reinforces how the company feels about its people.

Making It Happen

It sounds simple enough, but in order for learning programs to contribute to work-life fulfillment, a company must go beyond just publishing a few training classes online.

When you’re offering development opportunities, choice is key. Some of your offerings may be required (e.g., hazmat training or new security how-tos), but most learning should be within the control of the employees. When they can decide for themselves where they want to develop, the work life payoff is greatest.

In addition, never underestimate the power of place to foster learning. Whether training happens in classrooms through formal means or in company cafés through informal networking, the location fosters the experiences that enable people to feel safe enough to share new ideas with each other. Plan intentionally for a place that supports learning.

It’s also helpful to offer coaching and input. Rather than an employee who simply selects a class from a catalog, the employee sits down with a leader who is invested in his or her success. Then, they have a dialogue about career direction and the training that will be most beneficial.

Learning has the biggest impact on work-life fulfillment when it is connected to the big picture of how the employee envisions his or her career developing. When training is part of an overall purpose and sense of contribution, it is more effective.

Work-life fulfillment is complex and includes multiple variables for success. Learning, development, coaching and ongoing opportunities for growth are an important part of work life. They are good for companies and great for employees.