4.3 million Americans, or 2.9%  of the national workforce, quit their jobs in August 2021. The Great Resignation reflects workers’ changing priorities as well as the shift to remote work, which has made jobs more generic and created a disconnect from corporate culture and loyalty. Employees have the freedom to casually shop around for other positions with little risk or time commitment now that the job search process is online.

Companies must adapt by leaning on benefits to give them a competitive edge. One consistently important benefit is employee and leadership development. Learning and development (L&D) programs have a major impact on boosting employee retention: Employee retention rates increase 30 to 50% on average for companies with strong learning cultures.  Additionally, studies show that 80% of employees believe that learning and development opportunities would help them feel more engaged at work. Developing a strong, comprehensive L&D programs will ultimately strengthen corporate culture, encourage employee loyalty and result in lower turnover.

The Power of Growth

Potential career growth is the number one perk job seekers are looking for today, with the lack of growth opportunities being one of the top reasons why employees quit. Prioritizing L&D demonstrates to candidates that you’re invested in their future, and by promoting this aspect you are more likely to attract the right candidates who are looking to grow within a company over the long-term. Upskilling and reskilling efforts allow employees to maximize their potential and take ownership of their development, creating a flexible and agile workforce. Companies can reassign talent to new positions to support internal needs by retraining employees and retaining valuable talent.  This allows them to be more prepared to meet future demand through identifying skill gaps and creating a culture of talent mobility.

The traditional approach to L&D has shifted over the last decade, alongside a more global and changing work environment.  Modern training courses utilize microlearning and blended learning approaches, creating the potential for learning to be more engaging, adaptive and highly personalized.  The COVID-19 pandemic has only further reinforced this direction. Today’s employees are time-crunched, forcing L&D strategies to adapt to more personalized experiences that serve information on demand.  It is vital to listen to employee feedback and adapt your L&D programs to meet them where they are.

Market for Success

In addition to investing in L&D and adapting programs to meet changing priorities, it is equally important to brand and market your L&D programs as unique to your company. One strategy is to create a corporate learning hub, accessible to the organization, with a brand that aligns to the concept of growth and development in the organization, relative to its corporate culture. All training and marketing materials should incorporate aspects of your brand identity, such as your logo, graphics and color scheme to create brand recognition and develop employee loyalty. Follow corporate brand guidelines as a standard to design the visual elements of your program. Keep your brand voice consistent across communications and align L&D objectives with your company’s mission and values to build familiarity and trust among learners.

You can also adapt your L&D programs’ branding and marketing strategy to today’s social media strategies by creating communities for sharing and using gamification, visual badges and rewards to support learning progress.

Programs offering learning reinforcement materials and activities help learners gauge their progress and help solidify their understanding. Setting standards, developing guidelines around content and tracking learners’ progress will ensure you deliver on your development goals.

You can promote your company’s L&D offerings to your staff through word of mouth, email campaigns, the company website and blog, social media and events. A 2020 LinkedIn report found that the top three ways employees found out about L&D programs were through internal employee communication tools, followed by email campaigns, and through direct manager and executive communication. Executive championship of L&D strategies is proven to drive engagement. If C-suite leaders set an example by promoting programs and even leading learning initiatives, employees will be more willing to get involved.

L&D can also be used as a recruiting tool to stand out from the competition. Integrate learning into the onboarding process by using fun and interactive learning strategies to get new hires excited about their professional development at the company. For example, you could teach candidates more about their industry in general, connect them to current employees to answer their questions about what it’s like to work at your company, and use pre-hire assessments or tools that screen for skills and/or potential.

Lastly, when marketing your L&D program, highlight what makes your program stand out from others: Maybe it’s the flexibility of learning on demand, or the emphasis on leadership or functional skill development.  Maybe your program is highly collaborative and social, generating a fun competition between co-workers. Establish clear definitions of success by making development part of performance expectations, and integrate development into rewards and recognition programs to keep professional development a top priority for employees.

From evaluating and onboarding to training, the cost of hiring or replacing employees is significant. It is more cost-effective to develop current employees and invest in strategies to increase employee retention rates. Branding and marketing your L&D programs will increase brand loyalty and attract the right talent, and providing continuous opportunities for growth will lead to higher productivity and engagement, which will encourage employees to stay long-term.