How Learning and Development Is Getting Companies Through the Great Resignation

Find out how and why offering training and continuing education opportunities to your employees can boost retention and benefit your business.


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How Learning and Development Is Getting Companies Through the Great Resignation

As recently as last month, Americans are still quitting their jobs in droves. As Business Insider reports, over 4 million Americans have quit their jobs every month for the last 11 months straight as of this spring. The publication went as far as dubbing the phenomenon the Forever Resignation.

The high level of quitting has created a retention issue for companies big and small. This year’s Workplace Learning Report from LinkedIn offers some insight into what employers can do about it. The answer is leaning into learning and development.

Perhaps you’re a small startup that hasn’t been able to focus on learning and development opportunities with everything else going on. Maybe getting through the pandemic without massive layoffs has been your singular focus and learning and development has naturally fallen to the wayside. But now is the time to correct the course.

Why is learning and development the way to combat the Great Resignation?

In light of the Great Resignation, LinkedIn found that the number of learning and development leaders who expect to have more spending power is at an all-time high. With external opportunities abounding, 1 central way for companies big and small to hang onto their talent is by investing in their learning and development.

By providing career development opportunities, companies can connect skill-building to internal career paths and boost retention in the process. In fact, LinkedIn found that “companies that excel at internal mobility retain employees for an average of 5.4 years.” That’s nearly twice as long as companies that struggle with learning and development.

With external opportunities abounding, 1 central way for companies big and small to hang onto their talent is by investing in their learning and development.

But how? If you’re wondering how learning and development can help get your company through the Great Resignation, we’re here to help. Here’s a crash course on what learning and development can do for your company during this trying time and the steps your business should take.

Offer leadership and management training

In most cases, career advancement means getting into a management or leadership position at some point. Ensuring that you have effective ways for training the next generation of leaders at your company is critical for a few reasons.

First, if there aren’t sufficient advancement opportunities at your organization, employees will be looking at the door. This is especially true now during the Great Resignation in which large numbers of people quitting is creating large numbers of job vacancies and opportunities.

Perhaps more important, though, is the critical role that management and leaders play at any company. Great managers and leaders are key to a thriving company. But learning how to be an effective and empathetic leader takes time.

Investing in ways for people who already know your company inside and out to become its next leaders is smart. Not only does it reduce your recruiting costs, but it demonstrates to others that career advancement exists at your company. It also means that you’ll have leaders who are invested in the company they came up in.

If you don’t have the resources to create your own leadership and management training materials, don’t worry. There are plenty of other options like leadership training seminars and conferences that take care of the work for you. There are also plenty of online trainings these days, which make external trainings more accessible than ever.

Create opportunities to upskill your current employees

As the Emeritus Institute of Management explains, upskilling is critical to employee retention. One of the main reasons people leave their jobs is because of a lack of growth opportunities, both real and perceived.

When you invest in upskilling your employees, you’re giving them the skills they need to succeed and ultimately stay at your business. You’re also ensuring that they’re ready to take on the roles of the future at your company.

The first step to upskilling your employees is identifying the areas where skill development will be needed. Take a look at your company’s goals and vision for the future. What skills and talents will be necessary to get you there? Which skills would be desirable bonuses that will help immensely?

Once you’ve identified the skills that will become increasingly important at your company, you can invest in opportunities to nurture those skills. If you’re going to need a wider set of programming skills, for example, consider investing in opportunities for your programmers to start learning new coding languages today.

If you’re going to head towards People Ops over traditional HR, identify learning resources that you can provide now to help your workers take on these new roles of the future.

Use analytics to track the success of your learning and development initiatives

As Dashe & Thomson explains, data is an incredibly useful tool in most areas of business. Learning and development is no different. The 1st steps are identifying the skills that your employees want as well as the skills that your company needs to succeed in the future.

Next is beginning to offer those training opportunities. The critical next step is analyzing how effective they are.

Every company is different. But there are a few common data points that most companies look to when analyzing their learning and development initiatives. Quantitative data points include:

  • Course completion rates
  • The number of training hours completed by employees, teams, and even entire departments
  • The completion rates of top-performing employees versus the completion rates of low-performing employees

But measurable, quantifiable data isn’t the only kind of learning and development data that’s important. Qualitative data matters, too. Common qualitative elements to look at include:

  • Whether or not your employees find the learning and development resources to be relevant, applicable, and useful
  • Whether or not the learning and development resources are aligned with their skill development goals

Focus on reskilling employees and internal mobility

Don’t lock your employees into 1 career path at your company. Just because someone started in 1 role at your company doesn’t mean that they want to be in that career path forever.

This is especially relevant when it comes to younger employees who are perhaps still figuring out what it is they really want to do. Trapping them in 1 line of work will force them to look elsewhere for opportunities outside of their current career path if that’s what they want.

This is where reskilling comes in. As Harvard Business review explains, offering apprenticeships can be a useful way to approach reskilling. “Apprenticeships offer organizations a diverse pool of nontraditional hires who become dedicated employees with customized skills,” the publication notes.

By pairing on-the-job learning opportunities with more traditional instruction-based trainings, workers can become uniquely skilled for the emerging and future roles at your specific company.

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The takeaway: Why continuing education and training benefits your business

Diving into learning and development might seem like a Herculean task. But it’s one that’s well worth the investment. Forbes recently described learning and development as “a competitive differentiator.”

The author also cited a study that found that 76% of employees are more likely to stay with a company that offers continuous training. Yet, the same study found that 55% of these workers say they need more training in order to perform better in their roles.

As the Great Resignation continues, learning and development efforts — no matter how small! — make a big difference. Even if you’re not ready or able to roll out a deep and robust roster of learning and development offerings, even just sending key employees to key seminars can make a positive difference.

The main point is to invest in the continued education of your workforce in whatever way makes the best sense for them and your business.


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