Improve Your L&D Programs, Improve Your Employee Retention

You’re likely doing whatever you can to help your organization keeps its best workers. Great employees are high performers; they define company culture, build bridges across departments, and have the background and context needed to move into future key leadership roles. In addition to the associated costs of losing all of these valuable contributions when top talent leaves, it’s also expensive to replace them: an estimated 33% of the former employee’s salary.

There are plenty of strategies you can and should consider to address retention. You’ll want to attack it from all angles. You can beef up salaries, make schedules more flexible, offer the latest and greatest in benefits, and so much more — but do not overlook your learning and development programs.

Why L&D Matters for Retention

As we’ve highlighted many times, today’s workers are constantly looking for opportunities to improve and grow. If they’re not getting those opportunities internally, they’ll look outside the organization. And the thing is, more often than not, they want to stay! They don’t necessarily want to job-hop, but a new position with a new firm often appears to be the optimal path to advancement. A robust L&D program can change that perception, and keep people around.

Some proof points to chew on:

  • Culture Amp research found that employees who feel their job contributes to their development are 21% more likely to stay with their current employer.
  • The same study showed that employees who stay are 24% more likely to say they have had access to the learning and development they need.
  • A PriceWaterhouseCoopers study revealed that millennials consider learning and development to be the number one benefit employers can offer, over both flexibility and financial incentives.

The fear that an investment in training and development for employees is a risky one “because they’ll just leave anyway” is largely unfounded; supporting them with L&D makes them more likely to stay.

How to Make Improvements

Now then: What should you do to boost L&D at your organization? Here’s what we’ve seen make a difference:

  • Survey employees: Poll employees about the skills and knowledge they’re looking to acquire. Find out which learning formats they prefer. Pretty simple: Ask your people what they want, and do your best to provide it.
  • Mine your capability assessments: Look for patterns in skill gaps, desired experience, and long-term career aspirations. How can you help folks meet these goals and needs? (Psst: Here’s a full rundown on capability assessments if you need it.)
  • Promote and communicate: Make sure people know what’s available to them! Do the work to improve your offerings, but also be sure to share what you’re up to and promote your programs. Employees won’t feel supported if they don’t know the support is there.

Advanced Approaches (Made Easy)

You can and should kick this all up a notch, too. These next two ideas sound impressive — and they are! — but they’re totally accessible and a snap to manage with the right talent platform.

  • Talent marketplace: Hello, stretch projects. Think of this as a central hub of internal teams and initiatives. Here, employees and their managers can see all the opportunities in the organization, and pick and choose based on the worker’s talents and interests.
  • Intelligent recommendations: Taking things a step further, AI-enabled software automatically matches employees to the optimal mix of learning assets, training programs, and those aforementioned stretch projects. These recommendations are based on the employees’ needs, goals, and interests, and also historical data that suggest which assets and actions are most likely to produce the desired results.

Improving retention will always be a big, complex goal for talent leaders, but that’s because it’s so important. Don’t get overwhelmed; tackle it one facet at a time. Good news: You’ve now got your L&D improvement plan covered! 

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