How to Retain Employees with a Robust Learning Program

As companies welcome employees back to the workplace, many are finding a startling number won’t be returning. In what’s being called “the Great Resignation,” a phrase coined by organizational psychologist Anthony Klotz, a record number of employees are leaving their jobs. A staggering 40% of the workforce is considering quitting, according to a recent report from Microsoft.

There are several factors behind the shift. The pandemic gave people time to reflect, with many reevaluating their work-life balance, rediscovering forgotten interests, finding new hobbies, or relocating. Other employees, particularly essential workers, have been struggling with burnout. A tight labor market means that workers in many industries can more easily find new, and often better-paying, opportunities.

With freedom and flexibility at the top of many employees’ wish lists, many companies are focusing on offering employees hybrid schedules to help retain them. Doing so is essential, but it won’t be enough. What can help? Showing your company is committed to its employees by investing in their training. 

The digital transformation of our world has led to an explosion in options for employees interested in reskilling–learning new skills–or upskilling, updating their existing ones. Skills training has become one of the most cost-effective strategies HR teams can use to engage and retain employees.

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Learning opportunities for all employees

As technology disrupted industry after industry over the past few decades, reskilling–developing new skills–and upskilling, which refers to updating existing ones, became crucial for employees whose roles were becoming obsolete or who needed to master new software. But to succeed as a retention strategy for a post-pandemic workforce, companies need to expand their view of skills training.

In fact, organizations are seeking a broader view of their talent — but only 30% of HR leaders currently have visibility to the skillsets of employees, according to our recent research.

A survey from Prudential this spring found that of those workers planning to leave their jobs after the pandemic, 80% said it was due to a lack of career advancement. More than 70% said they had re-examined their skill sets during the pandemic, and more than half looked for ways to improve their skills. Providing a range of options for all employees to learn new skills will show them your company is serious about their careers and willing to work with them to keep them engaged.

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HR departments should support numerous training resources, including online courses, certification programs, webinars and conferences, peer learning and in-house training sessions, and partnering with external organizations, institutions, or consultants. Employees also have different learning styles and demands on their time, so HR departments should provide options with different time commitments and self-guided, individual, and group resources. 

Offering employees training in skills not directly related to their current roles will show your company is committed to their futures. Don’t overlook employees’ desire to improve their soft skills, either. Many people find their jobs more engaging and their prospects for advancement more promising if they feel more confident about their leadership, teamwork, problem-solving, or communication skills. 

Look for ways employees can develop creativity as well. During the pandemic, one out of 12 employees said they hope to turn a hobby into a new career, according to a study conducted by Aviva. Whether it is someone in your marketing department interested in taking a photography course or an employee in your sales department curious about designing websites, allow workers to develop their creative talents. It may save you from needing to replace them when they leave to start their own business or for a job with a more innovative employer. 

Technology makes training cost-effective

Offering employee education used to mean sending people to classes at a nearby institution or an expensive three-day conference. Technology has opened up an array of new possibilities, as well as ways to integrate them into existing HR processes. 

But creating opportunities is only the first step. Organizations need to ensure that all employees know what training is available to them and how they can get started. 

Begin by integrating upskilling and reskilling resources into discussions of every employee’s career development. HR platforms that link learning and performance management are ideal for this purpose. Regardless of what platform you do use, examine your company’s performance management process from a skills-development point of view. Be sure it captures an employee’s interest in new skills. When identifying strengths and weaknesses, link them directly to skills that employees can learn.

Of course, companies must also provide the time employees need to participate and set aside budgets for training as needed. Collecting data about your learning program is important. You will want to track employee participation and satisfaction with various options, as well as trends in engagement and retention. That information will help HR departments make a case for corporate investment in skills education.

The new normal in the American workforce are employees who are reassessing their careers and lifestyles in a tight labor market, with record numbers thinking about leaving their jobs. In addition to offering your workers more flexibility and supportive cultures, HR departments can help their companies retain employees by offering robust upskilling and reskilling programs. With the wide variety of low-cost online learning resources and the technology that can integrate them with your existing HR processes, companies can build a culture of learning that keeps employees engaged for the long term.

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Employee EducationEmployee Traininggreat resignationonline coursesTraining workshops
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