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Employee retention has become a hot topic in the last decade, as the life cycle of an employee decreases by nearly 50% with each incoming generation. The current Millennial generation is expected to have more than a dozen jobs over the course of their lifetime, with the average employment length not even lasting three years. With a highly-competitive talent market coupled with the cost associated with onboarding, it’s no wonder that everyone is looking for a magic bullet to attract and retain top performers.
Yet with so much attention being paid to recruiting talent and making sure they stay, we tend to forget about the employees who are already sticking around—and they can present an even more costly problem to your company. The average half life of a skill is now less than five years, so without the ongoing skill building that is often prompted by a promotion or job change, the employees that stay may be causing your company to fall behind. In fact, modern workers have stated their greatest fear in today’s economy is “becoming obsolete”—even more so than being laid off.
Train to RETAIN, but also Train the RETAINED
We’re all aware of the costs associated with training a new employee, as well as the time and effort expended on the part of fellow employees. Onboarding is seen as necessary cost to keeping a business growing. When it comes to offering ongoing training and development, however, these programs are often deemed too costly, and get cut from the budget. Employees that do not have the opportunity to update their knowledge and skills present a number of risks, many that can significantly impact your bottom line.
- Increased Morale: Help your employees feel good about the job they’re doing, because they’ve learned to do it better! If an employee feels ill prepared for a task, or doesn’t understand how to approach a problem, not only is the work not done well, but the employee’s morale suffers. Providing your employees with opportunities for ongoing training means they are more likely to feel prepared for new projects. The sense of pride that accompanies a job well done is critical to keeping employees happy and productive.
- Decreased Customer Turnover: An employee’s lack of knowledge or skills can create a bad experience for your customers. Keeping employees up-to-date on not only internal product information, but also the latest best practices in customer service and communication, ensures your customers have the optimal experience and stay loyal to your company. Organizations with engaged employees retain more than 80% of their customers!
- More Innovation: Have you ever had a moment of inspiration that accompanied listening to a webinar, attending an industry conference or reading a blog post? Ongoing training often provides employees with new perspectives, bringing in fresh ideas and keeping your company innovative.
- Agile Workforce: A lack of training can create a siloed workforce, unable to take on new roles or responsibilities. Similar to cross-training for athletes, cross-training employees in skills for different, but related, job skills not only decreases the problems associated when a team members leaves, but also helps employees see how their work fits into the bigger picture.
- Increased Team Productivity: Just like a pebble in a stream, an untrained employee can create a ripple effect within their team or department. When fellow team members can’t rely on an individual to complete a task or job, they generally take on the additional workload themselves to compensate for the gap, which in turn can overwhelm them, and impacts their morale. Managers spend more time monitoring these individuals and aren’t able to provide coaching to other employees as a result. When everyone on a team understands one another’s roles, as with cross-training, and can also recommend learning opportunities to each other, the team as a whole is more productive.
Don’t think of training solely as a vehicle to onboard new employees and keep top performers interested in your company. Ongoing development opportunities offered to all employees communicates that the company values every employee and is investing in their future, while insulating your company and employees from becoming obsolete. Employees will feel more engaged in their work, be more effective at their current role, and are more likely to consider their prospects within your company…instead of your competitor’s.