Brad Zomick

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It’s Not Them, It’s You: Why Your Company Is Losing Great Talent


The largest segment in the workforce goes job-hopping at a pace never seen before.

One in five millennials switch jobs every year. Six in 10 say they’re open to opportunities with other businesses. They’re also “the most willing to act on better opportunities,” Gallup found.

So when your business sees talented young workers walk out the door, it’s easy to blame it on transience, or some sort of professional nomadic nature that characterizes a generation. That’s a big mistake.

“Businesses are losing great people because they’re minimizing the importance of company culture,” says Tamar Elkeles, chief talent executive of Atlantic Bridge Capital and author of Chief Talent Officer: The Evolving Role of the Chief Learning Officer.

Learning & Development is a “huge” part of what a successful corporate culture must be about, Elkeles says. “You have to be a culture of learning, a culture of development. Otherwise, people won’t want to go there. Workers won’t want to stay at places that don’t invest in them.”

Dissatisfaction with development fuels exits

The numbers back this up. A survey of more than 1,200 workers, reported in the Harvard Business Review, found that:

“ … young high achievers — 30 years old, on average, and with strong academic records, degrees from elite institutions, and international internship experience — are antsy. Three-quarters sent out résumés, contacted search firms, and interviewed for jobs at least once a year during their first employment stint. Nearly 95% regularly engaged in related activities such as updating résumés and seeking information on prospective employers. They left their companies, on average, after 28 months.”

What’s behind this trend?

“Dissatisfaction with some employee-development efforts appears to fuel many early exits,” the researchers who conducted the survey said. While these workers said they get on-the-job development, “they’re not getting much in the way of formal development, such as training, mentoring, and coaching — things they also value highly.”

In fact, as Gallup says: “Millennials fundamentally think about jobs as opportunities to learn and grow. Their strong desire for development is, perhaps, the greatest differentiator between them and all other generations in the workplace.” Development is one of the top factors necessary to keeping them at any organization.

Engage workers and not just millennials

It isn’t just millennials who are more likely to stay when top-notch L&D efforts are offered.

Eighty-seven percent of employees are less likely to leave an organization when they feel engaged, a study by the Corporate Leadership Council found.

And to be engaged with their companies, workers want much more training than they’re getting. In a survey by ASTD, 42 percent of workers said their companies use L&D to drive engagement. Nearly twice as many — 81 percent  — said their companies should. Thirty-nine percent said their company designs learning with engagement in mind, while twice as many, 77 percent, said it should.

Drive productivity

Providing useful, constructive L&D options doesn’t just keep workers around. It makes them more productive, too.

“People care if you take a genuine interest in their future,” Psychology Today explains. These efforts help build loyalty, and “loyalty increases productivity.”

It’s about “feeling valued,” the American Psychological Association’s Center for Organizational Excellence says. Eighty-six percent of workers who feel valued say they’re satisfied with their organization’s growth and development opportunities — but only 18 percent of workers who don’t feel valued say the same.

Where the proof lies

This is why businesses need a whole new way of understanding the value of training efforts.

The LinkedIn 2017 Workplace Learning Report found that L&D is top of mind for 80 percent of executive teams, and 90 percent believe it can help close a skills gap. But only 8 percent see the business impact of L&D, and only 4 percent see the ROI.

The solution to this is to make key metrics simple and clear: Enterprises should track how their investments in a modern learning experience platform correlate to increased employee retention and internal mobility. That’s why Pathgather’s latest release pulls together data from across an organization to show how these two crucial markers are changing. It’s about delivering valuable talent outcomes.

Making change happen

To build the learning ecosystem that’s right for each organization, it’s time for L&D leaders to play a larger role, says Elkeles, a Pathgather adviser.

“Learning leaders are in some ways responsible for making clear ‘who we are as an organization’ — communicating who you are as a company,” she says. From onboarding to orientation to management training, talent development should play a big role in how the company operates, she says.

“This is a disruptive time for learning and talent development,” Elkeles adds. Companies that never saw disruption coming — greeting card stories, big box stores, and more — are losing market share to startups designed around new technologies.

Businesses that encourage progressive learning experiences are less likely to experience disruption because “they’re embracing trends and new ways of working. Learning professionals who are leveraging user generated content are really leaders in this space.”

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