By Molly Reichard, NWIRC, Strategic Programs & Events Coordinator

You’ve heard the buzz words: labor crisis, great resignation, the big quit, turnover tsunami, and many more. You know the challenge of finding and retaining talent. There is endless talk about best practices to hire employees, yet the problem persists. The ability to hire talent with job-ready skills no longer exists and it’s more important than ever for companies to develop and retain their current employees to remain competitive.

Many companies fear spending time and money on an employee, only to have them take their skills elsewhere. The reality is just the opposite – training can help retain employees. Companies lose an average of 25% of new employees in their first year of employment and, according to the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM), the cost to replace an employee is 50%-60% of their annual salary. You can either spend time and resources continually hiring new employees (if you can find them) or spend it on the people you already have. As stated by Sir Richard Branson, entrepreneur and founder of the Virgin Group, “Train people well enough so they can leave, but treat them well enough so they don’t want to”. SHRM also cites that 69% of employees are more likely to stay for at least 3 years if they have a great onboarding experience. Development can’t stop after onboarding. Continually training your employees on both professional and personal skills is proven by multiple studies to be an effective retention tool. Development opportunities reflect investment in your employees – an investment that pays dividends in having a highly skilled workforce that is engaged and committed. Other benefits of training employees includes increased productivity and performance, reduced waste, less reliance on supervision, better morale, and an overall improved workplace environment.

The Work Institute’s 2021 mid-year Retention Report cites the top reason employees leave a company continues to be lack of opportunities for career growth, achievement, and security (21%). This has been the number one reason for numerous years. That is, 1 in 5 employees leave due to the lack of training and upward mobility. Further cement retention efforts by connecting training with a career or individual learning pathway. First, conduct a needs assessment to uncover skills gaps in your team. After completing assessments, develop the career or individual pathways to serve as the road map to get employees from where they are now to where they want to be. Be sure to look ahead at what skills employees will need to grow within your company. For example, provide supervisor and leadership training now to employees you may promote in the next year or two.

Simply put, treat your people like you want them to stay – and provide the skills, tools, and support for them to perform their best – and they most likely will.

Side Note: NWIRC’s no-cost training assessment and development plan aims to bridge the gap between a company’s current situation for training and development to an improved state. The outcome will help prioritize focus areas for impact on productivity and employee satisfaction, plus serve as an integral part of a retention strategy. For more information, contact