- Professional development has emerged as a key tool in employers' efforts to retain talent, according to a survey by Robert Half. The company found 81% of the more than 2,800 senior managers it surveyed were at least somewhat concerned about retention, while one-third were very concerned. Forty-one percent said their companies offered professional development programs for retention purposes, tied with efforts to improve employee recognition as the second-most used company tactic.
- A separate survey of more than 2,800 workers showed their retention concerns may be justified: 43% of workers said they intend to look for a new job in the next 12 months. A pay raise was cited by 43% of workers as the top reason to stay with a company, while 19% said a promotion would keep them on staff. Just 10% of workers said nothing would convince them to remain with their current employer.
- Other retention strategies used by employers in the survey included improving employee recognition programming, enhancing compensation and benefits and facilitating mentorship opportunities.
The findings are supported by previous research on the subject. For example, more than one-third of employees in a survey by The Harris Poll said finding a new job with career development opportunities contributed to their decision to leave. Employers are investing more in training in part to reduce churn amid a thin talent market. But some experts worry bigger L&D budgets aren't necessarily delivering what employees want in terms of development, such as collaborative learning and training in leadership and soft skills.
Investment alone won't ensure employer success when it comes to developing L&D programs. Such programs are more effective, experts previously told HR Dive, when employees have a clear path of advancement in line with the skills they learn. As employers work with staff to map out those paths, they can use structural examples like career frameworks to help guide the process.
Another challenge for many employers is to identify the staff members with the most learning potential and targeting those employees for growth. Characteristics like adaptability and curiosity might be assessed either through actual assessments or through observing how a worker deals with challenges on the job.
Retention isn't the only benefit of improved L&D programs, either. Workers can learn useful skills to bring back to their teams, helping to build institutional knowledge. PwC did this in an initiative focused on building tech skills and asked workers to consider voluntary, accelerated training. This approach may be worth a look from L&D professionals, as some research suggests employees may be fearful about asking for development opportunities themselves.