Can Training Really Attract & Retain Talent?

Attracting and retaining talented employees requires more than a fair paycheck and healthy benefits package. Talented people seek out opportunities to grow, and they gravitate to organizations that offer plenty of opportunities to do so. You’ve also just solved your retention issue: if people are learning and growing more rapidly with you than they could anywhere else, why would they leave? 

 On-the-Job Training

Many people assume talent development is only about traditional training programs. Even though they are a good way to help people develop a specific skill or knowledge set, it can become increasingly difficult to predict what those skills are for each individual, and the half-life of trainings may get shorter and shorter – not to mention more and more expensive. Imagine if your staff could learn something new and useful every day in the workplace. How cost effective would that be?!?

This kind of on-the-job training can enable people to continually learn new (to them) skills and knowledge relevant to their position. Did I mention that the new skill or knowledge has immediate practical application to their daily responsibilities? Also, allow your employees to work on projects that stretch their abilities. It can be risky, but it’s critical for growth. The people who are most skilled in their fields generally have done so by doing things no one else has done before. Growth opportunities should occur on the job where employees can learn from their peers and colleagues.

Professional Advancement Training

Talent development is essential at all levels and in all departments of your organization. Too often, when executives talk about talent, they limit the discussion to other execs or knowledge workers. To continue to grow as a company, focus should be placed on designing programs that help employees of every level improve understanding of their specific position and performance.

When companies offer on-going training, employees will naturally grow out of their positions. People, this is a good thing! It is far less costly and time-consuming to hire or move internal candidates than search outside the organization for the right ones, especially as we go up the professional ladder. Training that is aimed at advancement within the company is a win-win. Employers are more likely to retain internal hires in their new positions, and candidates are attracted to companies that advertise growth opportunities.

Note: Candidates and employees feel valued when companies offer them the opportunity to learn and grow. Feeling valued = larger sense of loyalty – and in today’s business climate, these feelings can either make or break you.

“Outsider” Training

According to Bill Joy, Sun Microsystems Co-Founder, “No matter who you are, most of the smartest people work for someone else.” Opportunities to connect with talented people outside of our organizations are growing – whether they are vendors, networking friends, or some really smart guy you just met. We can connect online, offline, at the local watering hole, or at a Chamber of Commerce breakfast. Professional advice or development opportunities are no longer handed down from the “suits in the ivory tower” – they can come from anyone at any time. Companies that find ways to foster these kinds of relationships can accelerate their own personal development. By working together they can build significant competitive advantage over companies that remain focused on the talent within their organizations and traditional training programs.

Professional development is deeply satisfying to people of all skill levels and positions, and to be a company known for offering and encouraging growth opportunities can help you attract and retain highly skilled people. Leaders who understand the importance of creating programs where employees at many levels have opportunities for growth may see significant improvement in the satisfaction and productivity levels of their workforce.