Some employers fear spending on employee development, citing the risk that the employee might take those new skills and leave. This fear is pervasive. It affects decisions not only for new hires, but for long-term employees wanting to advance their skills. This can become a catch-22, however, since employees who are not given opportunities to grow and develop new skills may grow increasingly dissatisfied.
Thankfully for employers, there are actually several reasons employee development actually improves retention. Here’s why.
It can increase employee satisfaction. When employees are dissatisfied, there can be any number of reasons. That said, one of the more common ones is lack of opportunity for advancement. By investing in an employee’s development, the employer is not only gaining an employee with a new skill set, the employer is also gaining an employee that feels more valued. Feeling valued at work can improve the employee’s satisfaction with the job.
It’s viewed as a benefit. Employees can and do look at the big picture when comparing job options. The position’s salary is important, but so are the benefits, including benefits like training and development. This can even be a factor that sets you apart from other competing employers.
Satisfied employees are more productive employees. When an employee is dissatisfied, he or she will likely still do the job, but there will be dozens of little ways that productivity is lost. This can come from increased absenteeism or from unproductive days on the job. On the other hand, when an employee is more satisfied—as we’ve just outlined can be the case when the employee receives development and training—that employee is more productive, increasing efficiency and potentially increasing profits for the organization. This in turn can improve retention because productive employees are more likely to be happy and feel confident in their skills.
It signals the employer’s values and commitment. When training and development is not prioritized, this sends a message to employees that the organization does not value employee development. This might even fly in the face of stated company values, but actions speak louder than words. On the other hand, when an employer follows through on training and development goals and programs, this shows an obvious commitment to the employee and to the goal of equipping the workforce with the skills to succeed.
Employees see it as a step toward a future promotion. Employees on the career ladder want to see milestones and want to have goals to reach each successive step. The employer can help with that by creating an employee development plan that incorporates learning new skills that will help the employee advance within the organization. In fact, many employees view training as a first step toward a future promotion with the same employer. This is truly a win-win. Employees see clear progress toward their career goals and employers retain employees with a better skill set who are poised to take an available position when it becomes vacant.
As you can see, there are many clear benefits to employee development that will improve employee retention. And there are other employer benefits as well, like increased productivity and efficiency. Perhaps there’s not as much to fear after all.
About Bridget Miller:
Bridget Miller is a business consultant with a specialized MBA in International Economics and Management, which provides a unique perspective on business challenges. She’s been working in the corporate world for over 15 years, with experience across multiple diverse departments including HR, sales, marketing, IT, commercial development, and training.