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by Jill Witty | March 10, 2009

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Anyone who has experience in human resources development or management can offer you a conventional list of the major goals behind training: to incorporate new employees into an existing structure, to improve basic skills or knowledge, or to increase and enhance the productivity of an organization. But recently, a less obvious benefit of training has emerged: companies who offer or require on the job training may experience higher retention rates than those that don't train.

Why training can lead to retention

According to a study done by WorldatWork (formerly the American Compensation Association), training and development opportunities rank as one of the most important predictors of retention. It makes sense, after all, that training and retention rates are linked. By offering training programs, employers show their employees that they are interested in keeping their company- and its employees- on the cutting edge of their field. Employees feel valuable and stay with the company. They also see that, through training, they will continue to move forward and advance their careers.

That fact doesn't surprise Jay Lehman, the recruiting manager of Toll Brothers, Inc., a luxury homes builder. Lehman believes that Toll Brothers' nine-month "assistant project manager training program" has been instrumental in improving retention. Explains Lehman, "we invest the time and our resources and give [trainees] the opportunity to excel pretty quickly." College graduates in the program undergo nine months of training across different job functions within Toll Brothers, from marketing to construction to finance. "We train them in all facets of the work, and they don't really get that from other companies," says Lehman. "We value them and they see that."

Training benefits employers and employees alike. Employers can be sure that their employees are abreast of the latest trends and advances, while employees are rewarded with a competitive edge and the satisfaction that comes from knowing that one is a valuable employee. If employers demonstrate a genuine interest in their employees, employees are likely to stick around.

The flip side: training the manager to increase retention

Sometimes the missing link in the training-retention chain is the training not of employees but of managers. Wisconsin's Freedom Plastics had a high turnover rate until they implemented a supervisor training program. "Supervisory training doesn't always come to mind right away when you think of reducing turnover," says Ed Wood, human resources manager at Freedom Plastics. "But the old adage is that employees don't leave companies, they leave their supervisors." Supervisory/management training can include communication and interpersonal skills, sensitivity training, and anger management. These skills, once learned and practiced, can empower an employer to help retain an employee.

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Filed Under: Salary & Benefits

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