In our first Employee Retention 101 article, we introduced the concept of talent enablement. In that article, we discussed the fact that many of the facets of talent enablement are wide-ranging, with many more details to uncover. In this second article, we will explore upskilling your workforce through leadership and professional development. This should be top on your list of employee retention strategies, both due to its likelihood to retain your employees, and because of its vitality to your organization.
Recent Gartner research found that 58% of the workforce will need new skill sets to continue doing their jobs successfully. Particularly in IT, finance and sales, skills are rapidly changing and quickly becoming obsolete; over 30% of the skills listed on an average 2017 job posting in those industries are no longer relevant.
Hiring alone cannot solve this skill gap; 75% of HR professionals note a shortage of skills in candidates applying for job openings. Training and developing your current workforce is the solution. This requires several things: an understanding of your current workforce, data to track your current workforce’s skill sets, and training and developmental opportunities to advance your existing team to fill your gaps.
Luckily, providing these opportunities benefits both the employer and the employee.
Training and Development – Employee Benefits
The benefits that an employee who participates in employer-provided training and development opportunities surpass the obvious benefit of gaining new skills:
- Per a 2019 study, 90% of employees agreed or strongly agreed that participation improved their job performance.
- Employees that participate in training gain confidence in their skills to continue performing their jobs at a high level, and gain new skills to help prepare for advancement in the workplace.
- Employees that participate in training are able to connect with peers in other parts of the organization, further increasing their engagement and sense of belonging.
Training and Development – Employer Benefits
Similarly, the benefits to the organization of having employees that actively engage in training and development are numerous:
- Leaders often express concern that if they invest in employee training and development, their best talent will take those skills elsewhere. However, research shows otherwise; employee training reduces turnover, and incentivizes employees to stay.
- Program-based training and development can prepare employees for a new role, which benefits the employee, but also benefits the employer as it builds a bench and fills higher-need roles with internal, trusted employees.
- Training and development increases productivity as it improves the skills of the workforce and they become more efficient at fulfilling their job requirements.
How Do I Implement a Training and Development Program?
- Consider the needs of your talent pool; do not let yourself be “sold” by the best products on the market. Is your talent pool nearing retirement readiness? Consider training opportunities to diversify their skillset to encourage them to extend their working years in a new capacity. Is your talent pool relatively new to the workforce? Consider training opportunities that will help them learn leadership skills and business acumen.
- Do market research to consider the options available, and how the options align with the needs of your talent pool, as discussed in step one.
- Consider offering an array of training types; educate yourself on the types of education available, such as:
- Micro-credentials: “Bite-sized” chunks of learning that can be pieced together into a curriculum, or taken separately and have some value on their own. Because of the “credential” associated, the employer has a record associated with the employee’s participation.
- Digital badges: Visual representations of the micro-credential completion, used as validation of the record. Digital badges are portable and can follow the learner wherever he or she may go, outside of the organization, increasing the perceived benefit to the employee.
- Individualized training: Modern learning management systems offer menus of training that employees can choose from to personalize their learning and development plans.
- Gamification platforms: Technology again provides modern solutions for interactive training experiences in which employees have tailored and personalized learning delivered to them online.
- Traditional, in-person learning and development: Some industries and companies will still lean on conferences and lunch-and-learns for a portion of their learning and development, though it is expected that technology will continue to take over larger shares of the training market.
Now, you’re set to implement (or upgrade) your organization’s training and development program to begin upskilling your employees to keep up with the demands of today’s workplace. Once up and running, your organization, its leaders and its employees will all benefit – not only in increased talent and skill, but in a more stable workforce with higher rates of retention.
Stick with us as we continue to explore avenues to increase your organization’s retention rate; the next article in our Employee Retention 101 series will discuss performance conversations that actually motivate employees to improve.