Talent Development

Leveraging Employee Development to Foster Employee Retention

By Sarah AlexanderSeptember 21, 2017

Employee development has become one of the most desired benefits in today’s market for talent. Gallup found that Millennials – who are driving the employee market – fundamentally think about jobs as opportunities to learn and grow. Its report, How Millennials Want to Work and Live, reveals that 59% of Millennials say opportunities to learn are extremely important to them when applying for a job. While the number is lower for other generations, 44% of Gen Xers and 41% of baby boomers say the same about these types of opportunities. On top of that, 87% of Millennials and 69% of non-Millennials rate “professional or career growth and development opportunities” as important to them in a job.

Based on this demand, it makes sense that learning programs are proven to increase employee engagement and, by extension, productivity and retention. Employee retention is 25% higher for employees who have engaged in company-sponsored mentoring and coaching. One survey of 2,000 employees — the majority of them managers — uncovered striking insights to the power of development in terms of engagement and retention: participants who had access to such programs were 15% more engaged in their jobs than those without similar opportunities. The survey also found there is a 34% higher retention rate for employees with development opportunities. 75% of employees with opportunities said they were likely to stay with their employers for another five years, compared to 56% of workers without them. 

Here are three companies who are successfully integrating training and development to the benefit of the employees and the organizations as a whole:

Johnson & Johnson (J&J)

J&J finds that when top talent is seen as a critical organizational asset to be developed by senior leaders across the firm—and made to feel like right-hand partners to management—their ability and willingness to contribute to the organization dramatically increases.

J&J’s LeAD program is a great example of general managers taking responsibility for high potentials’ development. As part of J&J’s organizational and talent review process, the company’s managers select individuals they believe could run a business in the next three years to participate in LeAD. The 9-month program provides participants with advice and regular assessments from a series of external coaches. During the program, participants create a growth project—a new product, service, or business model—that will create value for their individual business units. Each candidate’s progress is evaluated during a leadership session that is held in an emerging market such as China, India, or Brazil in order to increase participants’ global knowledge.

Graduates leave LeAD with multi-year individual development plans and are periodically reviewed by a group of senior HR leaders for further development and reassignment across the corporation.  Corey Seitz, vice president of global talent management a reflects, “More than half of the LeAD participants have already moved on to bigger positions in the company.” One program participant commented, “It was an incredible experience—one that will certainly improve my ability to lead and contribute to J&J.”

Hyatt Hotels Corporation

Hyatt has fully embraced training employees for the long-term. The company has developed a program of hiring from within by identifying potential leadership candidates from its existing workforce. It has rolled out an entirely updated training program called “Change the Conversation,” which is based on principles from the Stanford School of Design that emphasize listening. In this program, employees are encouraged to find new, creative ways to solve problems and accomplish everyday tasks.

Hyatt trusts its own employees so much that its number one source of new hires is via recommendations by its Employee Referral Program. The impact on retention is notable. On average, an employee in housekeeping stays with Hyatt for more than 12 years. And altogether, more than 14,000 of Hyatt’s approximately 75,000 US employees have worked at the company for more than 10 years.

Amazon

Amazon has a suite of development opportunities for its nearly 250,000 employees worldwide. To some employees, the company offers an intensive, month-long training and leadership program prior to hire. It also prepays 95% of tuition for employees at fulfillment centers to take courses in in-demand fields. Additionally, an Amazon “Virtual Contact Center” trains employees to work from home. This both enables employees to work remotely an have better flexibility in their work life while ensuring that they continue contributing to the organization’s growth.

When asked why AT&T offers such a comprehensive suite of development opportunities, Teal Pennebaker, corporate communications manager, remarked, “We want our employees to be owners from day one, so we train them to take ownership over products and services that impact millions of customers. This helps them pioneer a career at Amazon.”

In Summary

While only 13% of employees are engaged at their jobs, Gallup has studied 40 companies that buck this trend and have employee engagement rates at around 64% — a huge difference that pays many dividends for these organizations. It is not easy to do right, but well worth the investment. As The Harvard Business Review states, throughout different industries and countries, in both booms and busts, “Our findings were consistent: with startling clarity, they showed that most management teams stumble badly when they try to develop their next generation of leaders.”

Sarah Alexander

Sarah Alexander

Author & Contributor

About the Author

Sarah is an elite triathlete and independent strategy consultant with an MBA from Chicago Booth. She is passionate about empowering others to achieve excellence.

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