In the era of the "Great Resignation," every employer is wondering how to hang on to their best employees. One smart approach is encapsulated by Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, who once said, "Train people well enough so they can leave and treat them well enough so they don't want to."
The two key lessons in this mantra are that employers should invest in employee development and also give them a supportive, collaborative environment in which they can fully utilize their skills. This type of workplace, whether in person or virtual, promotes employee loyalty and continued long-term growth within the company.
Below, a group of business leaders shared their interpretation of Branson's quote with some practical tips for boosting retention through training initiatives.
Share the wealth.
If you want key staffers to stay, you have to treat them as partners, says Michael Sinensky, CEO of WeShield -- and that may mean sharing your profits with them.
"It's a race of showing them you appreciate them versus them looking elsewhere for that partnership respect," Sinensky explains. "I suggest you create a profit-sharing system that splits 5 to 10% of company profits among key staffers based on time in the company and job performance."
Give employees what matters most to them.
According to Kristy Knichel, president of Knichel Logistics, leaders should find out what matters most to their employees, whether it be compensation, time off, solid benefits, training opportunities, in-office perks, a relaxed company culture or all of the above.
"Listen to them and try to give them what they want and need," says Knichel. "Employee retention remains high when you show you care."
Offer a variety of professional development workshops.
Professional development workshops can be an effective and appealing training initiative, but only if the workshops are on topics your staff wants to learn about.
"We've done workshops with outside expertise on everything ranging from personal finance, to yoga, to the fundamentals of anti-oppression," says Kelsey Raymond, co-founder and president of Influence & Co. "Our team has shared that they really appreciate us investing in them learning about valuable topics that aren't just marketing."
Take a genuine interest in your team's goals.
Employees want to be treated like human beings with dreams and goals, says Fehzan Ali, co-founder and Chair of the Board of Adscend Media LLC. To that end, companies should take a genuine interest in every employee on the team at all stages of their tenure.
"It's important to recognize how you can help employees grow personally and professionally, as they help drive success for the company," Ali says. "For as long as the goals remain aligned, the employee will likely stay on board."
Learn what motivates your team.
For Tyler Bray, CEO of TK Trailer Parts, the best way to train and retain employees is to learn what motivates them.
"I have a hybrid remote and in-office team, and there are people who are truly motivated by the autonomy that remote work gives them," says Bray. "Treating people well doesn't always mean pizza parties and volleyball games. Barter with tokens they truly care about."
Invest in courses on behavioral change.
When you train your employees, you simply make them better at helping your business grow, says Syed Balkhi, co-founder of WPBeginner. That's why he suggests investing in courses and workshops on behavioral change.
"When we understand how our minds work and how to think better, we automatically learn what we need to all on our own," Balkhi explains. "Such a step also creates a great workplace that people want to stay in."
Give them the title and pay range they deserve.
Marjorie Adams, president and CEO of Fourlane, noted that for smaller or growing companies, it can be hard to have good titles for a position. That's why she tells employees to research the title they believe they should have.
"I say this is crucial because if an employee ever chooses to leave, I want the title to translate to any future employers," Adams explains. "Knowing I'm thinking of their future, even if it isn't here, brings great loyalty."
Take care of them.
When training her team to excel in everything, Daisy Jing, founder of Banish, says she takes good care of them so they know exactly how to take care of their own colleagues and customers.
"You can only give what you have," says Jing. "If they stay, it's just a bonus we get for committing to their self-growth."