In today's tight labor market, keeping the employees you already have can often be easier than recruiting and hiring new talent. And one of the top ways to keep employees engaged and motivated is through ongoing training, but many employers fall short when it comes to learning and development opportunities. 

According to a recent study from Clutch, a field guide for B2B buying and hiring decisions, 73 percent of U.S. employees surveyed have not received job retraining in the past six months. But the same study also found that nearly all employees (93 percent) think it's important that their employers help them build the skills needed to complete their jobs successfully. 

If there's a disconnect between what employers have to offer and what employees demand in terms of training opportunities, employees likely won't hesitate to seek out other job opportunities in today's competitive hiring market. Below, I've outlined a few tips to help your team encourage employee training, and as a result, increase the likelihood of retaining top talent at a time of historically-low unemployment. 

1. Offer training opportunies to everyone, not just those in management.

Many employers might have top-notch employee onboarding programs and not offer much training beyond the first few weeks. In fact, as outlined in the Clutch study, some employers hesitate to retrain employees -- either to improve in their current roles or to prepare for other roles in the company -- because they have the misconception that employees will simply leverage these skills to leave the company. 

Failing to train employees beyond initial onboarding can offer much more of a threat than risking employees taking new skills to another employer. If your team doesn't train employees regularly, they'll likely think you're not invested in their long-term success and take their talents elsewhere. On the other hand, by offering ongoing training, employees will be more motivated to stay with your team for the long haul and continue learning. 

The Clutch study also found that 23 percent of companies offer job development opportunities to only select employees or don't have job development opportunities at all.

In some cases, employers only offer training and development opportunities to senior employees or those who are on the path to management roles. This can make other employees feel as though they are not valued and lead to workplace resentment, which will ultimately cause productivity and team morale to take a hit. 

Of the employees who do not currently receive training opportunities from their employers, 70 percent indicated that they would participate if it was available. By offering all employees equal training opportunities, not only can you keep staff engaged, but you might discover some of your next top performers or leaders based on the new skills they gain from training. 

2. Shape your training program with employee feedback.

Not only do some employers lack ongoing training programs, but many that do have training in place do not meet employees' expectations and preferences. 

The study from Clutch found that the top job development opportunity companies offer is learning resources, such as books, videos and online courses. However, when employees were surveyed, this is the job development opportunity employees desire the least. Rather, employees prefer such learning resources as classes, workshops and tuition assistance for outside classes. 

Whether you don't have a training program in place or are looking to improve the one you do have, make sure to be proactive about collecting employee feedback. Consider sending a general engagement survey to gauge how engaged surveys overall and what you can do to improve the workplace. Or send a more specific survey asking employees how you can best help set them up for success through ongoing training. Another option is sitting down with employees on a one-on-one basis to collect more in-depth feedback on your training opportunities. 

Effective training can empower your team to support ongoing employee growth and engagement. With a successful training program in place, you'll also have the chance to develop new leaders and managers internally, rather than looking to fill these roles externally in today's competitive hiring market.

Published on: Jul 24, 2019
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