Learning and Retention
Posted on January 30, 2012 by Gail Danneman
Employees are no longer staying at one organization for the duration of his or her career. It is increasingly common for employees to change organizations or positions several times. While this can be very positive for the employee and allows them to find the best position and organizational fit, organizations often suffer from the high cost of hiring and training when existing employees choose to leave.
A question that many organizations face time and time again is, “How do we keep the most talented employees? How do we make them want to stay here?” The answers to these questions is not easy. There are often many factors and reasons for why a talented employee decides to leave an organization. Some of the factors the organization may have control over, and others the organization may not have any control over.
Why is this important? Imagine you are AT&T and you just lost one of the best marketing managers you have ever had. Where will that employee go? They could work for Verizon, Sprint, or T-Mobile. You may have lost your competitive advantage over similar organizations. Therefore, organizations in a competitive market want to retain their best employees and prevent them from jumping ship to a competitor.
Research indicates that talented employees are more likely to stay at organizations where they feel challenged on a daily basis (Govaerts, Kyndt, Dochy, & Baert, 2010). In addition, employees are likely to remain at their current organization if they believe that there is the opportunity for advancement or new opportunities/assignments. Existing leaders in the organization also have an impact on retention of talented employees. Do managers or leaders recognize the talented employee’s work? Do leaders of an organization do a good job at leading the organization? If a talented employee does not think the leader is strong or does a poor job at the organization, the employee may not want to stay at that organization. Talented employees are attracted to great leaders and often envision themselves in that role.
What is the training and development like at an organization? Talented employees believe this to be of great importance. The majority of talented employees recognize his or her own potential and want to develop themselves further. If there are few or no opportunities for advanced training or development, the employee may feel that the organization lacks an important piece. When employees are learning and growing at an organization, they are more likely to stay at an organization (Govaerts, Kyndt, Dochy, & Baert, 2010).
How can an organization become more learning based? One of the best ways to find out what types of learning and development employees would like is to talk directly with employees. Not only will you then demonstrate an interest in employees, but you will also find out quickly what is missing from the existing training and development system.
Talented employees are often the most creative employees. With that creativity comes the desire to try new strategies and approaches to solving a problem. If an organization does not cultivate and allow for problem solving flexibility, the employee may feel stifled and wish to leave the organization. Organizations that retain the most talented employees understand that these employees need to be able to employ his or her own strategies and learn from challenges.
*Reference: Govaerts, N., Kyndt, E., Dochy, F., & Baert, H. 2010. Influence of learning and working climate on the retention of talented employees. Journal of Workplace Learning, 23(1), 35-55.