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Updated Nov 14, 2023

How the Best Companies Develop Better Employees

If you want to develop great employees and retain them long-term, check out these five strategies the best businesses use.

Melissa Powell, Community Member
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Effective team building is often described as the most crucial skill for a business leader to have, likely because it’s both valuable and difficult. Coalescing a group of high-performing talents is easier said than done, but it’s an effort well worth making if having a great company is your goal.

The best organizations put a premium on creating and sustaining a workforce built to tackle challenging tasks and grow seamlessly. Putting a team together to accomplish this is frequently a matter of maximizing satisfaction and productivity in the people you’ve already got.

Employee development and retention tips

Developing great employees is a multifaceted task, but much of it starts by addressing their needs as professionals. In any industry, development and fulfillment are significant aspects of professional satisfaction in any industry. Any organization that works hard to foster these qualities will find itself enjoying the rewards – motivated, self-starting, hardworking employees. 

Here’s a look at the major aspects of developing a great workforce. 

Prioritize professional growth and development. 

One of the most significant factors in developing a great workforce is offering professional development opportunities. These opportunities can take many forms. For example, professional development courses can build employee skills and expertise, as well as encourage attendees to be better teammates, more supportive leaders and more effective communicators. 

In addition to offering courses, it’s essential to plan out other professional growth opportunities, like career pathing and skills training. Employee loyalty is grown through thoughtful action – it can’t be purchased with higher salaries. If workers feel their professional goals are being supported, they’re likely to stay around longer and accomplish more work while there

Ambitious workers who may otherwise be inclined to find opportunities elsewhere can be retained if they feel their professional ambitions can be met within your organization. Developing their skills and giving them the chance to use them is how the greatest companies stay great. 

Did You Know?Did you know
According to research from Better Buys, offering employee development opportunities can lead to a 34% higher retention rate and 15% higher employee engagement.

Encourage employee autonomy.

If you want to develop top employees and retain them long-term, you must believe in them – and that means giving your employees the autonomy to make their own decisions. Instead of micromanaging your team, provide members with any necessary tools and support, and then let them take the reins. Of course, they will still need to follow your general business rules and guidelines, but they should be able to manage their projects and daily tasks their way.

Challenging employees with new projects and encouraging their autonomy can help your workers build their skills and expertise, and it is crucial for innovating and developing business leaders. It can also help you reduce employee turnover, since your staff will feel as though their talents are being used.

Support employee health and well-being.

Sustaining a great workforce also means supporting your employees’ health and well-being. A robust family leave and sick day policy demonstrates that employee wellness is a priority in a quantifiable way. Competitive compensation and employee healthcare options accomplish the same thing. In a marketplace where great workers can be choosy, a full suite of benefits is how the best employers can continually attract top talent and keep them satisfied. 

Health coverage is only one aspect of worker wellness. You want your employees working at their best, and that means allowing for time off when it’s needed. Not every personal need is met within the workplace, so a robust leave policy allows workers to take time to regroup, heal and return to work prepared to take on every challenge before them. 

FYIDid you know
Some popular employee benefits to support employee health and well-being include remote work opportunities, flexible scheduling, mental health resources, employee wellness programs and great PTO policies.

Offer additional employee perks. 

In addition to fostering a culture of individual growth and support, many employers rely on extra perks or fringe benefits to stand out. Such benefits will also make your workplace a more desirable destination, a place where your employees find more than just tasks to do every day. Recruiting gets a boost as well when you can entice prospects with a welcoming atmosphere for productivity.

Meditation rooms are a holistic way for employers to offer a more wellness-based workday. According to the American Psychological Association, stress is said to cost American businesses up to $300 billion a year. That malady can be fought right in the office with dedicated spaces for employees to relax, refocus and re-energize. Other health perks like standing desks, yoga classes, and access to athletic facilities can encourage an atmosphere where wellness is a priority. The benefits of such extras make for healthier employees and characterize your workplace as a place where worker happiness is valued. 

Such perks are an attractive lure for talented people, but without a solid foundational ethos of growth and teamwork, they’ll amount to little more than window dressing. What the best companies do to develop and retain great employees isn’t rocket science; it can be emulated by companies of any size, in any industry. It just takes dedication, conscientiousness and creativity on the part of those at the helm. 

Recognize and reward good performance.

It may seem simple, but employee recognition can go a long way in terms of encouraging good performance and retention. Everyone likes to know when they do something well. The best businesses have employee recognition plans to reward staff for excellent performance and important milestones. This shows employees that you notice and appreciate their efforts.

Another vital method of employee recognition is feedback. Foster a company culture of clear, consistent feedback and regular one-on-ones to ensure your staff is on track to meet their goals. Providing informal feedback at random intervals can be another great way to recognize employee performance and encourage good behavior.

Did You Know?Did you know
In a recent O.C. Tanner study, 37% of respondents said personal recognition was the most important driver for producing great work.

Companies that prioritize employee growth and development

If you’re wondering what other organizations are doing to prioritize employee growth and development, we’ve rounded up some information on a few of them.

  • Amazon: The company has several training programs, one of which is the Associate2Tech program, where frontline employees can undergo technical training. The goal of the program is to eventually transition staff members into more technical roles. This is an excellent example of upskilling your employees to retain them long-term.
  • Chipotle: This national chain recently launched an emerging leader and mentor program initiative. A few of the benefits include an LMS in partnership with Docebo (for AI-based learning); a suite of virtual, in-person and asynchronous module lessons; a mentoring program; and on-demand learning through Udemy Business. 
  • Paychex: This company uses a multifaceted approach to ensure its employees can learn throughout their entire careers. It offers a combination of training options, including virtual in-person training, more than 500 training videos and gamified learning. It even uses AI to provide personalized course recommendations based on each employee’s job, interests and learning course history.

The best way to develop your employees will be unique to your business, but these ideas will help you get started. A great workforce becomes so due to thoughtful, purposeful leaders who prioritize employee wellbeing. It’s up to you to make your own workplace a great one, but it all begins with purpose.

Skye Schooley contributed to the writing and reporting of this article.

Melissa Powell, Community Member
Melissa Powell is the COO (Chief Operating Officer) of The Allure Group. A dedicated healthcare professional, hands-on leader, and consummate innovator, Melissa has nearly 20 years of experience coordinating, assessing, and improving senior care in New Jersey and New York City.
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