5 Employee Development Strategies that Will Increase Retention

– A MentorcliQ Article –

5 Employee Development Strategies that Will Increase Retention

Employee development has always been an essential part of sustainable business growth. Workers who are gaining skills in the workplace not only improve the efficiency and quality of their work, they’re more likely to stay with the organization longer. That’s more true than ever as the tight labor market companies experienced in 2021 shows no sign of improving in the near future. Organizations that want to retain and build up their workforce will need to go all-in on employee development strategies.

What Is Employee Development?

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Few workers join an organization with every possible skill they’ll need to be successful. Whether new hires are career switchers, new college graduates, mid-career talent, or C-suite executives, there will always be room for growth and learning. At a high level, this means employee development is simply any type of learning opportunity that the organization provides. 

Because employee development is essential for all employees (and not just entry-level new hires), organizations should have development programs for all types of employee learning. Additionally, organizations will need to consider how to create and run programs that are flexible enough in design and function to easily support the development needs of workers across the experience spectrum. 

5 High-Impact Employee Development Strategies

Employee development is not a one-size-fits-all strategy. Additionally, you’ll find there are numerous routes to take when creating and implementing a robust employee development program. Among the long list of ways employees can be developed, these five are among the most common and most impactful for businesses:

  1. Onboarding
  2. Courses (Directed and Self-Directed)
  3. Workshops and Conferences
  4. Job Shadowing
  5. Mentoring

Every employee development method serves a unique purpose. Quite often, organizations will mix and match strategies, or combine strategies into a single program type for greater effect. Ultimately, it’s important to align the type of employee development program you’re using to the needs of your organization and the needs of your workforce.

Strategy #1: Onboarding

Most organizations have onboarding programs of some kind, even if they’re highly informal and unstructured. It’s exceptionally uncommon for a new hire to know absolutely everything there is to know about the company, after all. Even if they have the right skills, new hires may simply need time and assistance adjusting to company culture and processes — all of which are a large part of the onboarding process. 

Effective onboarding programs are essential for employee retention, yet most companies struggle to create effective onboarding programs. A Gallup study even found that just 12% of employees believe their organization did a “great job” with the onboarding process. Combine that with a Korn Ferry survey which found that as many as 25% of new hires quit within the first six months, and you can begin to see why good onboarding is important. 

Consequently, the biggest issue for workers? Onboarding programs that are too short. Although it may seem counterintuitive to have a longer onboarding period, it’s distinctly based on workers’ need for support. Everyone wants to be successful in their roles. When workers feel thrown into the fire without the right amount of support, they’re more likely to leave.

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However, if you encourage employees with growth opportunities through professional development, they’re far more likely to stay.

Strategy #2: Directed and Self-Directed Courses

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Employee development courses are a great way to help workers develop new skills and understanding for their roles. The two primary avenues to do this include directed and self-directed content.

  • Directed courses could be accomplished by paying an outside trainer to come to teach employees new skills, or by running internal courses (in person or virtually) that are taught by experienced team members. 
  • Self-directed courses are those that allow workers to learn new skills at their own pace. Organizations could create self-directed courses for internal use, purchase courses with licensing agreements, or even give workers dedicated time to take self-directed courses from well-known and well-respected providers, such as Coursera, Udemy, LinkedIn Learning, or Udacity.

Regardless of which route your organization takes for employee development courses, it’s important to ensure that workers have access to learning materials of some kind. LinkedIn’s 2019 Workforce Learning Report found that 94% of workers would stay longer at a company that invests in their learning opportunities. 

Whether that investment is paying tenured team members extra to create and run courses, or giving workers the time they need to take courses, prioritizing this type of learning is essential for retention. 

Strategy #3: Workshops and Conferences

The COVID era certainly put a nail in many popular workshops and conferences. Still, flexible companies found ways around this by looking for or even hosting virtual conferences and workshops. Nevertheless, as normalcy returns, so will in-person conferences. Considering https://promoleaf.com/blog/the-surprising-truth-about-virtual-vs-in-person-conferences prefer to have their conferences in person, it’s a good bet that many workers will be chomping at the bit to sign up and go. 

The COVID era certainly put a nail in many popular workshops and conferences. Still, flexible companies found ways around this by looking for or even hosting virtual conferences and workshops. Nevertheless, as normalcy returns, so will in-person conferences. Considering https://promoleaf.com/blog/the-surprising-truth-about-virtual-vs-in-person-conferences prefer to have their conferences in person, it’s a good bet that many workers will be chomping at the bit to sign up and go. 

Conferences make it easy for workers to become accustomed to new skills that are relevant to their industry. But importantly, it gives them a chance to network with others in their field. LinkedIn found that 85% of jobs are filled through networking, meaning sending your workers to conferences could also help your organization source new talent — especially if your company has an exceptionally positive culture and great benefits. 

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Conferences make it easy for workers to become accustomed to new skills that are relevant to their industry. But importantly, it gives them a chance to network with others in their field. LinkedIn found that 85% of jobs are filled through networking, meaning sending your workers to conferences could also help your organization source new talent — especially if your company has an exceptionally positive culture and great benefits. 

Strategy #4: Job Shadowing

Job shadowing is an important employee development and career development tool in many industries. Particularly for jobs that require a physical presence, job shadowing allows workers to stand side-by-side with senior and tenured team members to learn by seeing and slowly taking over the tasks required for their role. 

More often than not, job shadowing coincides with other employee development strategies, especially onboarding. That said, job shadowing does not always need to be tied to new hires, nor does it need to be only available during onboarding programs. In fact, job shadowing pairs nicely with mentoring, especially for workers who want to pick up functional skills through cross-departmental collaboration. 

Strategy #5: Mentoring

Last, but certainly not least, many organizations are turning to mentoring as a critical employee development strategy. In fact, 84% of U.S. Fortune 500 companies and 100% of the top 50 US Fortune 50 companies all have mentoring programs of varying types. The reason is simple: Mentoring programs can be a functional pathway to accomplish most other employee development strategies or serve as an employee development strategy in its own right. 

Common mentoring programs include:

  • ERGs or BRGs
  • Onboarding
  • Functional skills development
  • Cross-functional skills development
  • Reverse mentoring
  • Leadership development
  • Succession planning

Companies often turn to mentoring programs because they easily house and meet most employee development and professional training needs. By leveraging internal knowledge, companies easily make onboarding programs more interactive and enjoyable for new hires, identify and train high potentials for management positions, break down knowledge siloes across departments, and help executives develop skills from junior-level workers (who in turn get the benefit of executive-level access and networking opportunities).

With the right mentoring software, as well, companies can automate the matching process, allow workers to request mentoring on-demand for learning opportunities, and give their teams access to all of the learning resources necessary to get the most value out of the mentoring relationships. 

So what’s next? Upgrade Your Employee Development Plan!

When people join your organization, they have every intention of staying. But they’re likely to leave if they don’t feel their growth is supported, or if they feel disconnected from your company culture. Mentoring software can help solve both of these problems and more. With an average 50% increase in employee retention, MentorcliQ’s mentoring software may be the solution your organization needs to solve its biggest employee growth and retention challenges. 

Schedule a demo today and download our free Employee Development E-Book – 3 Secrets to Developing a Thriving Workforce.

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author
Sam Cook
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