Invest In Retaining Not Retraining

Retaining Talent

How an investment in your staff could be the best one you’ve made so far.

One of the greatest challenges facing organisations in the 21st century is retaining talent. While many of the leaders I’ve come into contact with are quick to dismiss the phenomenon as a millennial ‘thing’, I believe that this misses the heart of the matter… and the research would agree with me, I’m afraid. We, as humans are wired in a fairly similar manner, and while a handsome pay-packet might help spur some motivation within an individual, it’s not feasible when it comes to long-term, sustainable motivation and productivity in the workplace. From personal experience, I’ve had a number of conversations with leaders that are struggling to hold on to their best members of staff, and are plagued by the subsequent time and resources wasted in the re-training of new staff. Retaining, I believe is far more valuable to the future prospects of an organisation that retraining.

“Retaining talent has surpassed attracting talent as the number one priority.”

The latest “Greatest Place To Work” report, co-authored by Zrinka Lovrencic puts the problem into perspective and says that organisations that separate themselves from the pack are the ones where “employees are respected, treated fairly, leaders are credible and trust is nurtured.” Lovrencic says that “to improve both retention and productivity, organisations are investing in their people.” In response to this, HR is now being rebranded across organisations out there as ‘people and culture’, and it’s no longer being viewed as a cost centre, but rather as a source of value creation, considering how much more value a productive and happy employee can add to the organisation.

If you’re in need of any more proof in this context, take the report’s specific mention that “retaining talent has surpassed attracting talent as the number one priority” for organisations in the modern context, as well as the fact that for 80% of organisations, on average, employee retention is the greatest challenge they face moving into the future. Research also shows that in the context of the US, 40% of employees that don’t receive additional training are likely to quit their position within a 12-month period. We can see by these figures, then, that there’s a new hurdle for organisations to overcome in the modern era.

Thankfully, however, it’s a force that you’re more able to control in-house, as it’s an internal problem and not an external force that remains out of your control.

“Companies that engaged their employees with training programs and additional support outperform their competitors by 202% on average.”

As we pivot toward investing in the training of your staff specifically, I’m reminded of a timeless quote from Benjamin Franklin who said that “an investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.” It’s astounding just how many organisations underestimate the importance of training their staff, especially considering that the Association for Talent Development in the US says that companies that offer comprehensive training programs for their staff have a 24% higher profit margin than their counterparts. There has also been research published stating that companies that engaged their employees with training programs and additional support outperform their competitors by 202% on average. There’s a raft of correlations we could continue to make to drive our point home, here, but I think it’s self-evident by this stage of the piece just how important it is to make your staff feel valued and intellectually stimulated in the workplace.

It’s worth addressing the idea of trust. How can you foster trust if your go-to move involves a revolving door of staff? You’ll find it more difficult to gather momentum in your organisation if you’re bogging down your pace with the constant re-training of new staff.

Perhaps more significantly, the more time one staff member stays with your organisation, they’ll be able to paint a more detailed and accurate picture of your operations, and they’re more likely to propose and execute new strategies to help the organisation, whereas a new staff member won’t have the experience, confidence or knowledge to do the same. This is where we begin to see the divergence between organisations that invest in retaining talent, and those that don’t.

From our point of view, it’s a shame to see otherwise high-level organisations begin to buckle from the inside out when great staff members begin walking for the door. While yes, you can’t expect people to stay in the same role, with the same organisation forever, I don’t believe it’s a bridge too far to accept some responsibility in terms of being proactive about their professional development. Richard Branson once said that you should aim to train staff so they can leave, but treat them so they won’t. Branson’s quote is the quintessence of what we’ve tried to portray in this piece, so once again, maybe it’s time to make an investment in the people inside your organisation that will surely pay massive dividends in the future.

Before you go, take a look at your piece “How much does bad leadership cost an organisation”. There’s nothing more frustrating than seeing a high-functioning organisation held captive by its leader. The numbers show that bad leadership causes toxic attitudes in the workplace and isolates even the most tough-headed and resilient staff members to the point that they’re likely to quit your organisation and work for a more inspiring leader.

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