As the pandemic receded, the job market saw an influx in employees voluntarily leaving their jobs. They sought paths toward rapid upward mobility, better benefits and work-life balance, and even entrepreneurship. When talented employees leave your company, they take their skills, expertise and industry knowledge with them – making employee retention a key component for a successful organization. So, how do you retain your employees? Focus on their growth and development.
The importance of growing your employees
Employee growth and development is a hot topic for employers and employees, and one that makes good business sense. Here are a few reasons why.
- Retaining talented employees: A Work Institute Retention Report found a lack of career development to be a top reason why employees are quitting their jobs. Taking care of employees, making them a priority, and supporting their career paths is the healthiest thing a growing business can do. To put an end to abysmal employee turnover rates, every executive (not just your HR team) should commit to creating a company culture where long tenure is not only common, but a badge of honor.
- Developing highly skilled workers: Simply retaining your talented employees isn’t enough. The best employees are life-long learners who thrive on growth, so you should offer professional development opportunities that allow your employees to hone their skills and expand their careers within your organization. When your employees develop their skills and expertise, they are in a better position to help your company succeed.
- Increasing customer satisfaction: A customer’s experience with a staff member can make or break your business. Your employees are the key to satisfied and motivated customers – and therefore, growth. In an era where customer reviews remain king, it’s essential that your employees are trained to elicit excellent customer interactions.
- Enhancing creativity and innovation: In addition to employee retention and customer satisfaction, investing in employee growth is ideal for creativity and innovation. When employees learn and develop new skills, they are able to translate them to your business processes and look at problems and solutions through a new lens.
- Boosting productivity and profitability: Employee development is linked to higher employee productivity, which is great for business. Companies that invest in employee growth also see an increase in profitability.
Employee turnover is a growing problem in many industries and an unfortunate reminder that many companies aren’t focused on the right growth metrics. If you want to grow your business in a sustainable way that produces results, both now and in the future, work toward growing your employees. The healthiest companies are those where turnover is the exception, not the rule.
Tips for growing your employees and your business
Here are three ways to build an organization that employees want to stay at and develop their careers for the long haul.
1. Create career paths that encourage long-term growth.
Rather than viewing your hiring process as a talent grab, consider it an opportunity to create an alliance. When interviewing, ask about each job candidate’s aspirations – not only to see if they align with corporate structure (that’s important, too), but also because it can help you determine how to best support them on their professional journey. Ask about what they want to learn and what they enjoy, even inquiring about their five and 10-year plans. Then look for actionable ways that you, as an employer, can fulfill their needs.
By creating win-win relationships with prospective employees, you can find people who will be champions to your company’s customers, thrive in your company’s culture, and allow you to invest in their career and life goals. When this type of alliance is established, the employee is motivated to stay and live out their long-term career plans at your company.
When interviewing job applicants, assess whether they are a good cultural fit for your organization. Employees are more likely to want to grow with your company long-term if they align with your culture and values.
2. Show your appreciation for employee commitment and growth.
Employee appreciation should be embedded in the culture of any growing company. While you should have an employee recognition program for significant achievements, employee appreciation goes beyond just celebrating high performers or those working on flashy projects. True work life isn’t all glitter and positivity. Business success often means working hard through good and bad times.
Make it a practice to give special thanks to employees for their daily perseverance, especially those who have worked through a challenging project (or difficult period within the company’s history). One easy way to appreciate your employees is to directly ask how the company can thank them, or provide them with custom incentives of their choice.
When employees see that you recognize and value their commitment to their work, they’ll be motivated to come into work each day and give it their all. We all have bad days, but when employees find a supportive and appreciative company culture, it’s rare that they move on.
3. Establish consistent communication and goal setting with employees.
It’s in your best interest to establish an environment that caters to personal milestones and longevity within your organization. To help employees understand the long-term strategic advantage of staying, communicate consistently with them. Ensure that managers keep an open line of communication with employees to understand career goals, provide pathways to achieve those goals, and deliver informal feedback when necessary.
Moreover, every employee’s quarterly goals should include some level of professional development and training to ensure everyone sees progress. For example, you can offer virtual career training through a learning management system, encourage an employee to attend a conference, or supply outside training to propel them to the next level. When employees see that an employer is willing to invest in their future, they invest more in the company’s future.
Rob Reid contributed to the writing and reporting of this article.