Retention—it’s the one word that’s keeping HR professionals up at night lately.
As employees continue to reconsider what they want from work—likely fueled by the pandemic—and vote with their feet, no organization today is immune from turnover troubles. That’s driving many people leaders to place retention squarely at the heart of their work: driving up benefits offerings while driving down costs, creating innovative perks and rolling out new recognition programs.
While all of those strategies can contribute to better retention, any work to decrease turnover must include a sharp focus on learning and development. After all, apart from pay, lack of advancement is the top reason employees today are heading for the exit door, according to Pew Research Center. When employees can clearly see opportunities to grow within the organization—and that this objective is actively supported by the employer—they’re significantly more likely to stick around. In fact, LinkedIn found that a staggering 94% of employees surveyed would stay with their company longer if they felt the organization invested in their career.
The key concept there is invested—employers must actively advocate for their employees, before onboarding even starts and all the way through the employee lifecycle. That means matching them to the right job from the onset, one in which they can sharpen their skills and purse their interests. Advocating for employees also involves rewarding and recognizing their efforts along the way—showing them the value they bring to the organization, and encouraging them to continue to develop with the organization.
A cornerstone of an employee advocacy approach must be expansive learning and development opportunities—and not simply compliance-driven mandates, but skills-focused education tailored to each employee’s individual career path. That could take the form of training for specific roles within the organization, short-term assignments in other departments to both grow and network, mentorship programs or even tuition assistance for higher education.
No matter the avenue, development opportunities can provide employees valuable knowledge to help them move laterally and up within the organization—and that’s also a major win for the business. Given the costs related to turnover, and widespread economic uncertainty, investing in the current workforce—and equipping your organization with the skills you need to succeed for the future at the same time—just makes good business sense. Now more than ever, we need to advocate for our employees and ensure they have a place to grow and develop with our organizations—both for their success and the bottom line of the business.
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