Focusing on Employee Development Can Improve Retention

Published: Jan 24, 2019
Modified: Apr 20, 2023

By Joseph Moschetto

When considering how to reduce turnover through employee retention strategies, organizations need to identify the reasons employees are leaving. Employees may leave their present jobs for a variety of reasons, such as a lack of adequate supervision, appreciation, or feedback, the boss not being available as a resource, or the work not being challenging, to name just a few.

Reducing Turnover Through Employee Development Programs

One area where you can get a big bang for your buck is in employee development. Helping employees build their careers demonstrates respect for them. It shows that their work is appreciated and that you’re concerned about developing their professional growth.

As noted in AMA’s Fundamentals of Human Resources Management course, career development supports employees’ goals as they work to support the organization’s goals. This allows for a motivated workforce, which results in greater productivity. The most important point to know here is that employees must be encouraged to take primary responsibility for managing their careers. No one should care about this goal more than they do.

6 Steps to Guide the Creation of an Employee Development Culture

As a manager, you can take many actions to foster employees’ career planning. Here’s a basic, six-step approach to establishing an employee development program:

  • Encourage employees to regularly update their profiles in their employee files or in the human resources databases of skills, interests, and knowledge.
  • Periodically review the content of each employee’s file to clarify, expand upon, and otherwise organize the contents. Search the databases, if available, when looking for someone to fill a role.
  • Align employees’ goals with those of the organization.
  • Help employees establish a timeline for reaching career goals and identify the resources needed to do so. Resources may include short-term training, mentoring, or further formal education (such as pursuing a degree).
  • Support and encourage employees’ career plans. Encourage them to integrate discussions of career planning into the performance management process.
  • Encourage skip-level meetings. This means an employee meets with your manager periodically, ensuring a two-way dialogue between colleagues who may not interact one-on-one often. This process:
    – Provides a different/new perspective from a higher level
    – Recognizes that the higher-level leader can “do things” the other leader may not be able to do
    – Allows for a broader, more long-term career discussion than typical mentoring
    – Uncovers any potential issues with the leader

Career development is a multipurpose and appropriate component of an employee retention strategy. It’s a win-win, with employees feeling valued and motivated and the organization retaining engaged and satisfied workers.  

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About the Author(s)

Joseph Moschetto is a learning solutions manager at American Management Association. He manages client engagement processes and is responsible for AMA’s management and human resources portfolios, Leading in a Diverse and Inclusive Culture course, and AMA’s 5-Day “MBA” Workshop. Moschetto previously worked at JPMorgan Chase, where he held management positions in departments including training and development, collections, and the customer service call center.