By now, it’s clear that The Great Resignation is much more than a short-lived fad. After more than 38 million people left their jobs last year, today’s retention surge shows no signs of slowing down. Gartner research predicts that employers will need to brace for a year-over-year turnover rate that is 50% to 75% higher than what they’re accustomed to. 

As wave after wave of resignations hit, some businesses are looking at every lever they can pull to keep quit rates in check. While revamping perks and benefits is certainly a step in the right direction, ongoing turnover spikes indicate that it’s going to take more than a few extra dollars or days off to hold on to top talent. One way to move the needle is by understanding the forces fueling The Great Resignation in the first place.  

Among the top concerns, employees are asking for lifelong careers, rather than dead-end jobs. After commissioning a survey of over 1,000 workers across the U.S. in late 2021, the Gloat Research Board found that one-third of employees aren’t on the career path they wish to pursue. Organizations have a clear opportunity to reevaluate how they are using training to improve employee retention.   

Goals and Business Priorities Must Intersect

What will it take to devise a new learning and development (L&D) strategy to do things differently in 2022 and beyond? How can L&D help empower learners to grow within, and with, your organization? 

Think of training as a triangle. Ask yourself: What skills, capabilities and interests do your employees have? What are the projects and work your business needs to get done, and how can learning help bridge these gaps? 

Assessing employee skills and interests, and then and matching them to business requirements, is the context for learning strategies and priorities. As we have seen over the past two years, both our learners’ capabilities and aspirations, and our business requirements, are much more dynamic – and changing in real-time – than we ever anticipated. That makes traditional, top-down, annual planning less useful than in previous times.   

How can L&D and talent teams understand the two sides of this changing equation: the dynamics of the supply of labor (i.e., learners’ skills and interests) and the demand of workplace priorities and business-critical objectives? Balancing both sets of goals can be tricky.  

A talent marketplace can help make the alignment between employees’ interests and goals, and those of the organization, possible. These two-sided platforms help to match employees to projects, gigs and full-time internal roles based on their skills and ambitions, ensuring that experiential learning opportunities are relevant and meaningful. 

Put Learning into Context

When it comes to designing impactful training programs, leaders need to recognize that hands-on experience is a key part of the equation. As Amanda Nolen, co-founder of the educational transformation consultancy NilesNolan explained in a LinkedIn Learning course, “Learning requires involvement beyond binge-watching videos. Would you let a surgeon operate on you if she has binge-watched videos of other doctors in the operating room? Building skills, let alone expertise, needs a lot more than that.” 

Projects, gigs, mentorships, and shadowing opportunities maximize your training program’s impact by giving your people the chance to put their newly acquired knowledge into practice. As an added benefit, empowering employees to expand their horizons can also positively impact retention rates, since 63.4% of workers expressed interest in pursuing new opportunities within their companies, Gloat research found.   

Reimagine L&D as an Investment

Reimagining your approach to L&D starts by changing how top stakeholders view it. Too often, training is often treated as a perk, in that it’s something that’s given to employees to take advantage of, much like any other benefit that they can use on an ad-hoc basis.  

When business leaders view training as an investment, it can be game-changing. Work to ensure that your learning approach becomes a business initiative that will drive real results, just like any other investment.  To ensure you’re capitalizing on L&D, try using a talent marketplace to better understand how training opportunities can align with business priorities. By putting learning and opportunities in context with a talent marketplace, we are looking at these investments, not in just a narrow perspective, but as a larger portfolio. That alignment and connection will make training so much more valuable. 

Trade Top-Down for Employee-Driven

If you want your initiative to improve employee turnover, you need to flip the traditional, top-down approach to employee training on its head. Historically, employees haven’t been able to choose which type of learning they wish to pursue, nor did they have much say in the direction of their professional development.  

Since The Great Resignation is being fueled by workers and their search for greater purpose, your people need to have a say in choosing their own training opportunities. Most organizations have a long way to go, as Gloat’s survey revealed that 54.4% of workers feel that their employer doesn’t take their future interests into account enough. 

Talent marketplaces turn outdated training approaches upside down so that every employee can step into the driver’s seat of their career. In addition to suggested learning opportunities, the platforms generate career paths so that employees can see what knowledge gaps they will need to bridge to reach their long-term professional goals. They can then sit down with their managers, discuss their desired career paths, and ensure that their vision aligns with their employer’s goals and priorities.  

At its core, The Great Resignation is a call to action to reimagine the way businesses work. Right now, more than two-thirds of employees think better opportunities exist outside of their current organization, Gloat research found. To thrive during today’s turnover crisis, companies must demonstrate that their people are already in the best place to grow their careers, which can only be achieved by upgrading your approach to training and development.