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Want to Keep Your Employees? Try Employee Development

Want to Keep Your Employees?

The work environment has changed dramatically in the past two years. Many employees leave long-held jobs and do not return to the same employer – or even industry. The cost of turnover is a considerable burden to companies, and learning and development experts are eyeing new ways to promote from within through new learning initiatives.

Does this strategy have value? The stats seem to support it. A new LinkedIn study shares that engaged learners are 82% more likely to move up within the same organization versus leaving for a new one.

If your budget can’t handle an exodus of talent, consider how employee development can help fill the gaps.

What is employee development?

When an employer and employee work together to grow the employee in several professional areas, this is considered employee development. It is a joint endeavor, and it may lead to additional skills, competencies outside a specific job description, and a commitment to the company as a long-term career partner.

Employee development isn’t simply training. Companies can teach employees, but there has to be buy-in, and it has to lead to the larger goal of a better-developed professional – not just new skills.

Why employee development matters

There are numerous reasons to consider elevating your L&D initiatives, although not all can be tied directly to the budget. These are some of the rewards of a well-executed employee development plan.

Want to Keep Your Employees?

1. It reduces turnover

The same LinkedIn study shares that tenure grows when employers present development options to employees. Those with internal opportunities stay twice as long as their counterparts. If you only have to hire half as often, it’s clear that a revamped learning and development strategy can reduce the cost associated with hiring and onboarding.

2. It creates a positive workplace culture

What makes a “good” workplace culture? It depends on your employees, missions, and goals. However, if you ask the youngest workers, it may include much more learning than what previous generations encountered or expected. In fact, 76% of Gen Z employees believe that learning is the key to a prosperous professional career. By reaching out proactively, you give them more of what they want and potentially improve your culture.

3. It boosts your brand with your customers and community

When it comes to allocating budget, the sales and marketing teams inevitably rank high on the list of priorities. Without product sales, the company can’t exist. What if your educational efforts could increase those sales? That’s what some companies are finding when they prioritize development. As word gets around that a company will reimburse tuition or pay for mentoring getaways, public opinion rises. An increase in consumer sentiment may naturally lead to better sales.

4. It can increase profitability

Admittedly, not all learning opportunities are of equal value or outcome, but they can bring a dollar return on investment (ROI) when implemented correctly. Studies have shown potential for a 24% higher profit margin when organizations provide formalized training. This isn’t just a win for the company, however; employees can see up to a 218% increase in their personal earnings, as well.

5. It can increase productivity

Anecdotally, it makes sense to consider that knowing more skills and being better with them can lead to more work. Beyond that, however, happier workers are generally more productive – especially at the office. If you’re delivering on those workplace expectations (especially with the Gen Z employees), they will become happier and potentially do more while at work.

Ways to promote employee development

Want to Keep Your Employees?

As stated before, growing an employee requires teamwork. What’s your role as an employer? Start with these goals:

Check-in often

When was the last time you reached out to those who don’t necessarily report to you? Managers may be good at scheduling performance reviews or disciplinary measures, but these efforts may seem like bureaucracy to your employees and not true investments in their professional development.

To get the most out of one-on-one sessions, schedule brief but informative chats not tied to anything but helping them succeed. Use these moments to develop a rapport that demonstrates they are valuable. When possible, solicit feedback on what’s not going so well in their professional journey so that you can tweak their development path.

Create varied learning opportunities

Don’t rely too heavily on extended, formal learning modules to hit skills goals. If there is a way to learn through mentoring or apprenticeship methods, incorporate them where it makes sense. Employees see the benefit in digital learning, too, including self-paced, asynchronous courses and workshops. Virtual conferences may be just as influential in some cases and can save on travel costs and time out of the office. Get creative in your efforts; if you don’t have a sizeable L&D budget, give out ebook credits that employees can use to study up on a skill of their choosing.

Help them understand their purpose

If there’s one thing the past two years have taught us, it’s that employee purposefulness matters. Do your employees know their purpose? If they limit the understanding of their role to a job description, challenge your organization to help create messaging around each employee role and how it benefits the larger company as a whole.

Take that org chart and make it a living document that any associate at any time can use to see how their work impacts the greater good. At a minimum, tie back positive individual performance metrics to more significant company metrics. Telling a customer agent how their survey results may have improved sales, for example, gets right at the heart of the “why does my job matter?” question.

The bottom line on employee development

Proper employee development takes time and resources, but the potential ROI is great. It may also be the only way to compete for good workers in today’s changing talent landscape – essentially creating them yourself.

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