There was a time not long ago when talk of The Great Resignation (aka, “The Big Quit” or “The Great Upgrade”) was dismissed as nothing more than an overblown and overstated trend that would peter out along with the pandemic.
But when even Wikipedia decides The Great Resignation is significant enough to deserve its own listing, and Gallup research concludes that it is driven by poor employee engagement and should actually be described as “The Great Discontent,” well, that’s when you know this is not a topic people should be casually dismissing.
Last summer, Gallup’s analysis found that nearly half of America’s working population was “actively job searching or watching for opportunities,” and businesses were facing “a staggeringly high quit rate … and a record-high number of unfilled positions.”
Never has employee retention been more important, and organizations everywhere are struggling to not only find good employees but also to hold on to the people they already have working for them.
Employees stay put when companies invest in them
The Harvard Business Review, a publication known for getting ahead of trends, described one possible solution to the problem:
“As the costs of the Great Resignation continue to grow, companies need more ways to attract and retain employees. One clear approach is to offer more training and development — according to a 2019 LinkedIn study, 94% of employees said they would stay with their employer if it invested in their development.”
Investing in employee development is a smart approach for companies that want to not only retain good workers, but also build a more flexible and agile workforce.
The latest research from Fuel50, an AI talent marketplace technology company, found that organizations that offer more career development not only increase retention but also have higher levels of employee engagement:
“Employees leave organizations when they do not see a developmental path, and they go to organizations where they can see a clear future. People want visibility to internal opportunities for career development, and many are ready and willing to jump ship to gain it.
One of the pivotal retention factors is whether an organization prioritizes employee learning, career development, and growth. If an employee believes that their organization prioritizes, values, and rewards learning, then they are far more likely to stay.”
The most prevalent trait of organizations classified as “HR Best in Class” was their prioritization of and active involvement in employee development.
Implementing “HR Best in Class” practices (such as placing strategic organizational importance on employee development, leaders taking an active role in developing others and leaders being given tools and resources to support employee development) was found to lead to increased business performance.
More specifically, the research confirmed the most engaged employees came from organizations that emphasized the following:
- They prioritized career development – reskilling, upskilling and initiatives to improve capabilities across the workforce.
- They gave employees access to career resources and learning – including incentives for acquiring and developing new skills, career journeys and maps to future opportunities.
- They provided access to learning opportunities where employees feel part of an open learning culture surrounded by valuable experiences.
Fuel50’s research confirmed there is significant room for improvement when it comes to employee development, talent visibility and internal recruitment. If an employee believes their organization prioritizes, values and rewards learning, they are more likely to have high levels of engagement. This, in turn, drives retention and enhances organizational performance.
In other words, there are clear bottom-line business benefits for organizations with effective employee career development strategies in place.
From The Great Resignation to The Great Rebuild
Investing in employee training and development makes a lot of sense, so why did it take a global pandemic to get so many organizations to finally get around to it?
The Fuel50 research seems to hint at an answer: Even when companies invest in more training and development, they’re not always good at telling employees about what they are doing for them. The research analysis spells this out:
“If employee development is a strategic priority, then extra effort needs to be taken to actively communicate that the development of employee skills and capabilities is an important element of your organization’s overall strategy. This should involve the organization’s senior leaders talking openly about reskilling, upskilling, or improving capabilities in the workforce. And leaders across the business must demonstrate that they are taking action to support this.”
In addition, employee development helps to improve overall engagement throughout the entire workforce.
“The most engaged employees are from organizations that prioritize career development, give employees access to career resources and learning, and provide access to learning opportunities. If an employee believes their organization prioritizes, values, and rewards learning, then they are significantly more likely to stay. Now more than ever, driving employee engagement through career development is crucial for organizations seeking to attract and retain talent.”
Attracting and retaining talent has always been important, but rarely has it been as critical as it is now as we are all dealing with The Great Resignation. The fact is, getting beyond “The Big Quit” will only happen when organizations do more to invest and keep employees, building their workforce more through retention, rather than simply relying on recruiting and hiring to carry the load. Savvy companies are already doing it, and for everyone else, well, it can’t happen soon enough.