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Employees Stay When They Are...

If you spend any time on LinkedIn then there’s a strong chance that you’ll have seen a post, comment or image about the importance of retaining good staff and the key things to remember as part of your retention strategy (by the way, if you’re not using LinkedIn regularly then you should be - drop me a line and ask me why!). These posts and images usually look something like the one above.

These are all great sentiments and I agree with them all, but there’s one missing – training! If you truly value your staff then invest in them and their future – train them, coach them. Help them develop and be the best that they can be. Learning and development isn’t a one-and-done box ticking exercise, and it’s not about staff that ‘need’ help, it’s about going from good to great – and staying there. Too often training is devalued because managers will refer to ‘training needs’ when staff are underperforming, and yes, training may well be part of a performance management plan for those staff that need it, but training is much more than that and should form part of everyone’s working life – regardless of position or role. If it makes you more comfortable, call it continuous professional development instead! Sometimes that will be structured training on a particular topic (e.g. using LinkedIn – see above!), and sometimes that will be coaching on a one-to-one basis. Whatever form it takes, embrace it – don’t ignore it. You’re probably familiar with Stephen Covey and his 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. The seventh habit, and the one that underpins all the others is ‘Sharpen the Saw’ – take time out to sharpen the saw, improve and maintain your own personal toolkit, and see the benefits.

One of the most common reasons for not investing in training and developing staff is cost. Cost should always be a factor in any decision, or perhaps more accurately, value should be a factor. Does it represent good value? Will it deliver a return on investment? The short answer – assuming well delivered and targeted training and coaching – should always be ‘yes’. To give some examples, Fortune Magazine has reported that businesses investing in coaching for staff tend to see a return of around six times the cost, and statistics from the US Bureau of Justice show that targeted training, coupled with effective coaching, can see productivity increase by as much as 80%. That’s a great ROI in anyone’s book.

I love the quote about the person in control of spending pushing back on proposed training: “What if we invest in training and then the staff leave?”, with the response “What if we don’t train them, and they stay?!”. There’s a great quote from Richard Branson that sums this up for me, and links training and development back to the staff retention point that we started with: “Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to.

So yes, appreciate your staff, value them, involve and trust them, challenge them, empower them and mentor them. Pay them well, promote them and engage them with your mission. Do all of this if you can, but invest in them as well! Take a stake in their progression and train them, coach them, help them succeed.

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