Keeping Your Talent: Using Training, Retraining, And Upskilling To Keep And Develop The Best

In the midst of the pandemic, roughly 1 in 5 U.S workers was looking to make a job switch. At the height of the COVID crisis, finding anyone for a position was often difficult, and hiring bonuses and other enticements were often offered (though this has fallen off or disappeared more recently). Real wage increases occurred.

As things have settled, we all know that finding anyone is OK, but finding the right one is a lot better. Once you find the best people for the positions you are seeking to fill, you want to do everything you can to keep them.

One way to retain your best people is to ensure you train, retrain, and upskill them.

Loyal and satisfied employees will work—and stay—for you. One way to enhance that loyalty is making sure they have the right tools to do their job, and to afford them various pathways to grow within your company. These elements are:

  • Training and Retraining
  • Pathways and Upskilling

These concepts tend to work together. For example, upskilling and pathways involve training. Upskilling usually takes someone with more basic skills and provides them with new skills for today’s positions and jobs. Pathways is more about ensuring employees know their job does not end in a corner, with no path forward. That with hard work and dedication and an openness to growth, there is a clear pathway for their career.

One of the best ways you can retain your talent is to provide training. In fact, 70 percent of employees would consider leaving their current job for another organization that would invest in their development and training. And, according to the same source, 86 percent of millennials would stay at their current job if their employer offered training and development. Help make your employees better; help them grow. You win. They win.

I’ll add another point: the importance of meaningful work. No one wants to feel as if their contributions are meaningless or that they are pushing paper all day long. People want to grow in their skills and career.

Know Your People

Sometimes, you will have people resistant to change or ill-matched to the new demands of their job in this tech-driven, increasingly AI-driven world.

Maybe they don’t have the capabilities. Maybe they’re unwilling to learn. Maybe technology has changed and they’re so intimidated that they resist.

That’s when it’s important to know your people. For example, I had one person who worked with us for years. She was very resistant to certain aspects of using the computer. Instead, she felt more comfortable printing out everything. Even innocuous things, like email confirmations of various events, etc. She had worked for us for years, but she single-handedly was probably using a forest-full of trees in paper.

However, she was capable of learning the technology. It was not beyond her skill level. It was a matter of retraining her ingrained thoughts and work patterns that felt that a paper trail was something good to have “just in case.”

Lead with Compassion

This may be something people in business don’t openly discuss much—but I have no problem being transparent about. In cases like the one I described—and many others when it comes to upskilling and training, what I would do is turn the issue on its head. Let’s start with compassion. Let’s lead with that.

What does that look like? Well, it starts with nonthreatening inquiry. You need to understand, as best as you can, this employee’s desires.

Do they want to do this job? What skills do they have? Where are they lacking?

Next, can they learn new skills? There is nothing shameful in realizing a job or a skillset is not a fit. Then if they can learn new skills, importantly, are they willing? Are they willing to put the time in?

Never forget, if you are in a position to make a decision on hiring (or firing) or training someone, you are impacting a life. If the person is a success and together you sort this out and help them, then the loyalty comes along with it.

And the benefit to the organization comes along with it, too. Replacing someone is costly. If they leave, they leave with whatever knowledge they have. You must then recruit somebody new. There’s the cost of finding them, the cost of not having someone in that position, and the cost of training someone new.

According to Gallup, the U.S. voluntary turnover rate hovers around 25 percent. The cost of that is 1.5 to 2 times the employee’s salary (so an employee who earns $50,000 a year costs the company $75,000 to $100,000 in lost work, training, etc., when they leave). The article by Shane McFeely and Ben Wigert is full of similarly insightful statistics. In 50 percent of the cases of voluntary turnover, the employees say that their manager or the company could have done something to stop them leaving. Important to our discussion on training, retraining, and upskilling, roughly the same percentage (about 50 percent) say in the ninety days prior to their exit, neither their manager nor anyone else in the company spoke to them about their job satisfaction or future prospects within the company. That certainly doesn’t sound like leading with compassion.

Every employee should feel valued and that the company cares about their trajectory within it.

Now, it may be that after offering training, retraining, upskilling, and guidance, your employee still chooses to leave. It could also be they simply cannot master the new skillset you require. But by embracing the idea that developing your people is imperative and essential to your business model, at least, then, you know and they know that you did everything you could to retain them.

Don’t lose your best people because you don’t fully develop and train them!

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