Training professionals are not always aware of how much their work is directly linked to talent retention. Yes, effective onboarding can help new hires feel adjusted and more likely to stick it out during the initial transition to their new role; and effective training builds confidence and competency. However, do these activities actually increase long term retention?  Often times, the answer is no.

Research and practical application in the importance of social support and the impact of positive psychology have found a key training focus with a direct correlation to retaining top talent for long-term success. Let’s take a look at the making of these fundamental practices and how it can make training more effective.

Resilience Training to Encourage Long-term Success

Resilience is being able to withstand an unusual amount of stress from the surrounding environment and being able to come through the experience unscathed with the mindset to not only survive but thrive. The concept of resilience has a long history in engineering; for example, an object (e.g., bridge, airplane) is designed, then built to withstand more stress than previously built models.

Another instance of resilience is seen in the military and how they prepare their personnel, teams and infrastructure to be able to endure life-threatening circumstances, and later return to regular service — and the public. This concept also applies to trauma victims who step out into the real world after living through a traumatic event. Resilience does not look much different in the work environment.

Research shows that resilience can positively impact and improve company culture. Practicing resilience involves a handful of skills that, when used together, can combat high stressors. Most physical items are stronger together than a part; it is easier to break a branch on its own than when held in a bunch. The same concept is reflected in how learning leaders can use a bundle of skills to build resilience in their employees. Through resilience training, employees can become “unbreakable.”

With this infusion of social support in training, team members can have a better chance of becoming more resilient and steadfast in their career development.

Positive Psychology to Enhance Workplace Connections

In the early 1980s, there was a new discovery in psychology that changed many psychologists’ viewpoints. The focus shifted away from diagnosing a patient and treating the symptoms, to treating the whole person — mentally, physically and emotionally. This opened up the door to the introduction of more holistic approaches, (e.g., using positive psychology to treat anxiety and depression). Martin Seligman was the pioneer of positive psychology and was among many to adopt this new train of thought.

Psychologists like Seligman helped patients in creating a positive wellbeing, manifesting their goals, and focusing on developing healthy relationships in both their work and personal life. The practice of positive psychology has led to many amazing discoveries transferable to the workplace — being adaptable to change, strengthening connections and acquiring a level of emotional intelligence (EQ). Positive psychology teaches what Seligman found to be signature strengths, such as empathy, resilience and effective communication. These strengths can equip employees with the skills to empower a healthy company culture. A workplace cultivated on this focus can help employees envision longevity in an organization.

Remote and Hybrid Employees Need Connectivity

The recent impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has become evident in every facet of life. There’s been an influx of stressors provoked by health concerns, disruptions in the educational system, loss of jobs and dispersed relationships. One of the largest shifts has been in the work environment, as nearly 50% of workers claimed to have worked from home full time during the pandemic.

Though convenient in stimulating a healthy work-life balance, a remote or hybrid work model can create instability in team connectedness. Throughout the course of the pandemic, studies have examined the external factors that have influenced employees’ mental health and their methods for coping with stressors, along with discovering the root of the cause.

Research has shed insight to a key factor that can differentiate between workers who can cope with high levels of stress to those who cannot. The key factor is based in social interaction and feeling a sense of connectivity with other team members. Social support — just like a good night’s sleep, dieting and exercise — can have a positive influence on the working environment. A critical component to supporting connectedness via a remote team is involving communication at a personal level.

Communication should branch away from work-centric topics, to conversations about leisure and recreation. Again, the focus is to promote personal communication in a remote or hybrid work model, because employees are people, not machines.

Applying the Fundamentals: Creating a Positive Workplace to Retain Employees

Resilience training, positive psychology and connectivity synthesize to form an effective strategy to retain employees from the start of onboarding. Combining these three critical factors can result in dynamic and practical learning and development (L&D), which then can lead to a positive workplace culture and increased retention.

When looking to implement this strategy to organizational teams, look to these three key factors:

1.) Develop resiliency as a team and as individuals by creating units of social support within work groups.

2.) Build a positive focus between work interactions; communicate encouragement and appreciation to one another.

3.) Emphasize the value of individuals beyond their productivity at work, and help co-workers connect with one another about their personal lives.

Research from the book, “7 Hidden Reasons Employees Leave” by Leigh Branham, has shown that 79% of employees who quit their job cite a lack of appreciation as a key factor for leaving. Global research based on a survey of 200,000 employees found that feeling appreciated was the No. 1 factor for job satisfaction.

Research and practical tools about work stressors can help learning leaders address the need for team connectivity and inclusion. Through these new insights, training professionals can then utilize the discovery and resources to directly impact employee engagement and retention in their organizations.

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