Complex Made Simple

Want to keep your key staff? Here’s what you need to do

By Elie Georgiou-Botaris, Senior Consultant Talent and Rewards-Willis Towers Watson 

We continue with our rundown of things companies NEED to adopt when it comes to employee training and subsequent retention. Here’s the next 4 steps.

You can read Part One here.

1- Feedback: Even if we manage to create a learning and development (L&D) environment that targets specific groups and learning styles, that understands individual needs, and challenges high performers, it could all be in vain if employees don’t receive useful feedback, so the value of the training is ‘just not clear’ to them. Don’t leave workers thinking they’re doing lots of great learning but still aren’t clear if they’re really putting it into practice.

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Across our region, line managers need to become more adept at providing feedback. The WTW Global Management Trends report suggests that this is where supervisors in the Middle East really lag behind their competitors globally. Many managers admitted that they didn’t spend enough time setting goals, collecting feedback and discussing performance, with some laying blame on the length and complexity of paperwork. Tackling this problem, then, starts by relieving the pressure on managers and streamlining the feedback process.

2- Shared responsibility: L&D shouldn’t rest purely on the shoulders of employers: workers have to take responsibility too. Training shouldn’t be nice-to-have for those who can be bothered. It should be compulsory. The business world is changing rapidly, and we can’t afford to have certain employees missing out on their L&D commitments because it’s ‘just not my problem’.

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In the WTW Global Management Trends survey, 24 per cent of employees who selected job security as a driver for retention did so because it meant a stable and steady role. This mindset can make up-skilling a difficult process. To tackle it, consider introducing reward schemes for employees to encourage them to take ownership of their own training. Alternatively, a pre-requisite for promotion could be to prove the attainment of skillsets in jobs other than one’s own – a challenge which can often be achieved through an active L&D programme.

3- Valuable insight: Sometimes employers have ‘just no idea’ whether or not their employees enjoy their L&D programmes or find them useful. Part of discovering the answer to this comes from surveying staff, but we can collect data in other ways too. With so many training modules now offered through apps or e-learning, it is easy to monitor which elements of L&D are being used by which employees, how long they take, where and when.

This kind of information can give us valuable insight into which groups are doing what training and their real motivations and aspirations. In turn this can help us to design more focused learning programmes which actually fulfil those aspirations, support employee retention and boost career satisfaction. Having ‘just no idea’ is no excuse in this digital age. Information is out there on what our employees’ L&D expectations are, and we need to get hold of it and use it.

Another more traditional – yet very effective – approach that helps employers gather valuable insight into how effective their L&D programmes are, is to measure their impact on the employees’ performance and productivity and how focused they are on the pre-defined programme objectives and desired outcomes. This measurement is done using the 4-level Kirkpatrick Evaluation model, where the impact gets measured at various intervals – upon completion and long after programme delivery – to ensure that the programme is effective in delivering or transferring the required skills and knowledge to employees and allow employers to measure how these are translated on-the-job to improve results.

4- Review and adapt: Finally, as soon as you’re comfortable with your current L&D strategy, it’s time to reconsider and adapt it. A recurring theme when looking at Learning & Development is the fast pace at which the business world changes. Whatever you have in your L&D framework today should be just the tip of the iceberg, so you’re always ready and able to adapt to ongoing business change. L&D organisers who become too comfortable will be left behind.

And, finally, if you’re responsible for L&D in your company, don’t forget yourself. Set a good example. One of the most important L&D programmes in your business could well be your own. I know from my own experience that even after many years of helping companies with their training, my own personal L&D programme never stops.