Employees have been leaving their jobs and fields at unexpectedly high rates for years now and many employers are at a loss of what to do about it. The connection between training and turnover may provide a solution. Can on-the-job training help them increase retention, reduce turnover and close skills gaps?

Employee Turnover Is at an All-Time High

The recent employee quit rate surge — dubbed “The Great Resignation” — isn’t over yet, despite what some may claim. According to federal data, over 50.6 million individuals quit in 2022, an increase of 2.9 million from the year prior. This sharp rise suggests the issue will intermittently worsen before stabilizing.

Despite economic uncertainty and the rising cost of living, millions of people feel emboldened to leave their positions. The employee quit rate in the United States reached a 20-year high in 2022, highlighting the gravity of the situation. Job shortages have intensified across numerous industries — the impact isn’t isolated to a few sectors.

Adding to the issue, many employers have undergone retention challenges they haven’t experienced in decades. For instance, over 50% of manufacturing workers reported they planned to leave the industry by the end of 2023. Crucially, they’re not just quitting and finding work elsewhere in their sector — they’re exiting the field permanently.

As turnover worsens, the number of people permanently leaving their field will increase, leading to long-term labor shortages. Skill scarcity will increase as a result, further impacting retention. When employees know organizations are desperate for highly skilled professionals, they may be less loyal to their current employer.

The Connection Between Training and Turnover

In the United States, many positions are unfilled because too few individuals are willing to fill them. As of 2024, there are 9 million job openings and only 6.1 million unemployed workers. Even though employers have created millions of jobs in recent years, too many people have permanently left the workforce.

The high employee quit rate and rising number of people permanently leaving their field indicate poor retention and high turnover rates will be an ongoing issue — meaning employers can’t wait it out, hoping to return to normal. If they want to retain their workforce and improve their business outcomes, they must find a way to make their staff stay.

The connection between training and turnover provides a solution. Upskilling is one method employers should turn to close the skills gap and reduce turnover. When people feel their position has value and they’re given room to advance their career, they’re more likely to remain in their current role.

Employers who leverage training in response to The Great Resignation and ongoing retention issues will experience better business outcomes. In fact, those with full-time, tenured, highly-skilled employees make 50% more revenue than those without.

For the most part, employers won’t have to wait long to see the benefits of their efforts. Nearly 7 in 10 organizations expect to receive a positive return on investment (ROI) within one year of employee training.

How can Training Address Employee Turnover?

Most employers view upskilling and reskilling as a valuable business strategy. In fact, 81% of organizations believe investing in on-the-job training is critical for achieving their goals. For the most part, it addresses the turnover and retention issues better than other existing approaches.

Many employers have reacted to the high turnover rates by hiring temporary workers to fill supposedly short-term shortages. Unfortunately, this impermanent solution isn’t ideal since most indicators suggest the issue will continue intermittently worsening.

The same concept applies to meeting employees’ shifting expectations by accepting their salary demands and promoting them. While this solution may be effective in the short term, it doesn’t incentivize them to be loyal to their current employer if a better offer comes along. Crucially, it may also be too costly for many employers.

On-the-job training, on the other hand, provides employees with value-driven work and incentivizes them to stay. They’re aware they’re in an age where skilled labor is highly sought after, so upskilling and reskilling can motivate them to stay and advance their careers. In the long term, this meaningful work may increase their loyalty to their current employer.

If employers leverage on-the-job or online training strategically, they can address their high turnover rates and retain highly skilled employees better. They may even draw applicants seeking career advancement if their programs are compelling enough.

How to Ensure Employee Training Is Effective

While training and turnover typically correlate, a proper strategy can increase its effectiveness.


Whether learning leaders have short sessions, leverage gamification or provide concise learning material, they must make their training engaging to ensure employees absorb and retain the information taught.

Early intervention.

Early intervention is essential since approximately 30% new hires will quit their job within three months. Training should be incorporated into the onboarding process to some extent to reduce turnover and acclimate employees to their roles faster.


Upskilling and reskilling shouldn’t be hierarchical — everyone from the newest hire to the highest member of the C-suite should receive some form of on-the-job training. This helps establish a mentality of equality, motivation and commitment within the workforce.


According to the 2022 Training Industry report, employees will forget one-half of learning material within days of the initial session. Repetition is crucial because it can ensure training will remain effective in the long term, increasing the chance of a ROI and positive business outcomes.

Training may be the Solution to the Great Resignation

Training and turnover go hand in hand. Whether organizations leverage mentorship initiatives, employer-sponsored apprenticeships, online learning platforms or internal upskilling programs, they can reduce turnover and increase retention rates significantly.

On top of using training to accurately evaluate applicants’ skill level, employers and L&D professionals can provide employees with a progression path for career development to encourage loyalty. This can increase the likelihood that they will achieve their long-term business goals and remain resilient in the face of high quit rates.