Want to Reduce Turnover? Start With Training

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Feb 24, 2020

While most employers expect and plan for a certain level of employee turnover, the operational, cultural, and financial impacts are significant and reverberate throughout organizations. From a purely financial perspective, employee turnover can produce hard costs equating to one-third of each lost employee’s total salary. Yet, with billions of dollars lost to turnover each year (75% of which is preventable), one would expect a greater sense of urgency surrounding employee retention. Typically, recruitment and retention efforts, as well as turnover mitigation, focus on benefits and compensation, as those costs most frequently account for the largest expenditures for companies.

However, through the exit interview process, the number one reason employees give for leaving their place of employment is not compensation/benefits-related, but rather related to a lack of career development and advancement afforded to them. According to the new 2019 Report: Future of Work and Employee Learning, 37% of employees would leave their current jobs if they were not offered training to learn new skills in their roles. Today, almost one in five employees (19%) say their employers don’t offer any training at all. Let’s delve into this research, the importance of employee training, and how companies can build programs proven to meaningfully support the learning and development initiatives that employees truly value.

Breaking the no-training culture

Why are employers consistently undervaluing learning and development when it comes to employee retention? The problem could start with culture. More than 25% of employees feel their employers/managers don’t find training important, and 68% of employers do not incentivize or reward employees at all for completing their training. One in three employees (35%) feels their employers do not take the time to know them and accurately understand the skills gap or training areas that would be most beneficial to helping them advance in their roles. Yet despite employers’ reluctance, 79% of employees say it is important to them for employers to offer a formal training program.

What’s more, employees are afraid to ask for support; 46% of employees believe their employer actively penalizes employees (holding back raises, promotions, bonuses, etc.) for not having certain skills on the job. As a result, nearly one in three (30%) employees – particularly men (33% compared to 28% of women) – have avoided asking their employers for training on a specific topic or activity because they were afraid their employer would be concerned they didn’t already know about the topic.

Re-aligning businesses with employees

This cultural deficiency against training is misaligned with workers’ needs and expectations, which can have serious business consequences. Top talent is constantly aware of areas for improvement and thrives when given a chance to learn new skills. Without training specifically customized to address each employee’s skill gap, workers may struggle to advance professionally. This stagnation ultimately contributes to increased turnover, which creates additional overhead costs for businesses.

When looking for a new job, 78% of employees feel it is important for employers to offer formal training programs to their employees, and 93% of them believe training will, in turn, help them deliver better customer care. Training programs are vital not only to recruiting employees but to retaining them as well. More than one-third of employees (37%) say they would leave their current job/employer if they were not offered training to learn new skills; however, only about one in five (22%) employees say their employers offer in-person training courses they can choose to take on their own time.

For those employees who do receive training, 92% believe it makes them more motivated and engaged in their work, and 95% of employees feel their experience affects their ability to deliver high-quality customer care. Therefore, investing in employee training is in both employees’ and businesses’ interests – whether it’s about improving recruitment, increasing retention, building customer relationships and loyalty through employees, or growing the bottom line.

Building a pro-training business

It’s time for businesses to take another look at their learning and development programs to see if they’re truly maximizing their employees’ potential. Fortunately, employees are confident in what kind of training would help most; 72% say they would be more likely to complete workplace training programs if they could complete them online in their own time, and 60% believe technology will help make their work easier. This technology-friendly atmosphere creates an ideal opportunity for employers to help grow employees’ skills; however, only one in three employers (33%) currently offer digital courses.

How should businesses build their training offerings? On-the-job training is the overwhelming favorite for employees’ training preferences (83%) with self-paced training a distant second (8%). Overall, 39% of employees feel they need technology training the most in 2019, followed by management skills training (25%) and soft skills training (18%). Employers who meet this demand will not only reap the benefits of a better-skilled workforce but will also position themselves to meet the demands of the digital age.

By building a robust workplace training program to address employees’ needs, employers can attract and retain top talent, reduce turnover, and meaningfully improve employees’ experiences.