4 Ways To Keep Your Best People On Board

Job seekers from entry-level to executive are more concerned with opportunities for learning and development than any other aspect of the job. This makes perfect sense, since continuous learning is a key strategy for crafting a sustainable career.  

Furthermore, top employees jump ship more frequently than ever before–for millennials, job-hopping is the “new normal.”  As a manager of people, you are competing to keep top talent on board and focused in a jobs market where 45% of job seekers are satisfied with their current job, and 50% see their current job as a placeholder.  

Regardless of what other leadership skills you thrive at, facilitating employee learning and development should be a non-negotiable competency for management.

Here are 4 ways to foster employee learning and retain your best people:

Give them independence  – A little autonomy goes a long way. A recent Cornell study shows us that businesses that give employees independence grow four times faster than the businesses using command and control management, and experience only a third of the turnover.

Recognize the employee as an individual and offer flexibility that allows them to be their most productive selves. Considerations like work-from-home days and BYOD (bring your own device) policies allow your team to produce whenever and wherever they are at their most capable. Encourage your staff to participate in training and development, but employ cloud-based tools to facilitate a culture of learning throughout the day, week, year, and careers of your team..

Focus on transparency – Unlike traditional siloed approaches, many companies are now allowing much of their internal information to be shared company-wide, encouraging transparency between departments. Credit Karma, for example, shares every annual board presentation with the entire company, revealing new products, policies, successes, and failures.

Employees want their leaders to be proactive in sharing where the company is headed and forthright about its future, so they can accurately plan for their own. Give them on-demand access to company knowledge and learning materials that go beyond the “need to know.” They’ll feel respected and will be able to perform even better in their jobs.

Provide opportunities for them to grow in their roles  – The best, most motivated employees want a chance to solve problems for themselves, and want to discover new problems to solve. Companies that aim to grow, improve, and challenge the status quo need to hire curious people. It isn’t a luxury or a bonus; it should be a core part of your business strategy. Foster this spirit of innovation by giving your team unlimited access to information and tools that they can use to solve company challenges with creative, independent thought. By optimizing your corporate learning and enablement content for today’s mobile-first employee, you’re freeing their innovative spirit and allowing them to discover and solve problems when they are at their most creative and most motivated.

Gather data, have conversations – Cloud-based tools will report how and when your team is using their training and learning and development content. Discover what they’re reading, what they’re skipping, and what they’re coming back to for reference. Ask about content that has proven to be a valuable resource for them personally, and what they think could use work. Pairing data with an iterative, ongoing dialogue about progress, challenges, brainstorming, and troubleshooting ensures results for your team as a whole and the individual employee. You’re accomplishing two things: 1) demonstrating to your employees that you are interested in their professional development, and 2) building actionable analysis of how to best personalize and improve learning content moving forward.

The best teachers are those who show you where to look, but don’t tell you what to see.
― Alexandra K.Trenfor

The vast majority (some sources say as much as 90%) of learning and development takes place not in formal training programs, but rather on the job–through new challenges and developmental assignments, developmental feedback, conversations, and mentoring. Thus, employees’ direct managers are often their most important developers. Consequently, job candidates’ top criterion is to work with people they respect and can learn from.

Set clear goals for today’s independent workforce, be transparent, support curiosity and the spirit of innovation, and, most importantly, provide them with the tools they need to thrive.