Retention Strategies Focus on Education
by Eileen McDargh

A recent issue of  TREND LETTER reported that a survey of 350 human resource managers indicated  that employee turnover is becoming one of the most critical workplace issues.  Sixty percent say that skilled-person power is “scarce”.  Forty six percent say that worker retention is a “very serious” issue and another 28 percent believe it to be “serious”.

Companies that take the problem seriously and implement programs to ensure employee satisfaction have the highest retention rates. “Show me the money” is not the singular solution. While bonuses, stock-options, and flextime are appreciated, what employees really want is some assurance of continued employability. Here are the most popular worker retention strategies:

   78% conferences and seminars
   67% tuition reimbursement
   67% managerial training
   58% pay for performance
   57% flextime
   57% interpersonal skills training
   55% technical training

Five of the top seven areas are all related to learning.  Whether an organization is a small business or a Fortune 100 company, investment in the knowledge base of the HUMAN capital is one of the smartest moves a business can make.  Sadly, some managers say “what happens if we spend money training an employee and then he leaves for a higher offer?”  My response has always been, “what happens if he stays and you DON”T train him!” 

To optimize any learning, may I suggest three ground rules:

(1) Create a training plan that matches the employee’s career objectives AND serves the organization.  To send someone through training without taking into account the needs of the student only serves to waste money.  If the training is needed to correct a deficiency, the employee must be able to see a correlation between the class and on-the-job performance results.

(2) Require that anyone who spends time in a seminar, conference, or training class come back and share what they have learned and how they will apply the knowledge. This not only reinforces the learning but also creates a ripple effect in a learning circle.   Follow-up within a short time frame to see if the employee has put any of the ideas into practice.

(3) Continually look for ways to incorporate learning and knowledge sharing into the fabric of the organization.  Here are some examples: Use sessions like “brown bag lunches” to generate informal sessions around “so what did you learn this week?”  In meetings, thru a formal e-mail bulletin, via a video clip, devote a small amount of time for teaching employees everything from how to read a profit and loss statement to how to do competitive analysis.

It is indeed good news for all employers that spending money to enhance knowledge generates better, longer lasting results than merely throwing a paycheck at a worker.  Mirage Resorts in Las Vegas has the lowest unemployment rate within the gaming industry.  One of its core programs is helping employees get their high school diplomas.  Surely brain over brawn is the preferred modality in this new millennium.


For over 20 years, Eileen McDargh, CSP, CPAE has consulted and addressed organizations that seek to make a difference in the lives and the well being of their customers, stakeholders, and communities. Her ability to connect with mind, heart, and spirit makes her one of the most sought-after international keynoters.

Author of Work for a Living & Still be Free to Live, she's a frequent contributor to numerous business journals and news magazines and has appeared several times on CNN Headline News.

Visit her web site www.eileenmcdargh.com or contact her at 949-496-8640.

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