Picture this: You’ve spent countless hours mentoring a young prodigy in your organisation. You’ve invested in training programs, offered one-on-one coaching sessions, and even sacrificed weekends to help them grow. Just when you think you’ve built a loyal and skilled asset for your team, you receive a resignation letter. Your heart sinks. All that investment, seemingly down the drain.
It’s a scenario that haunts many leaders and managers: the fear that developing your employees will only make them more attractive to competitors. But what if we told you that this fear, while natural, is holding you and your organisation back?
“Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough, so they don’t want to.” – Richard Branson, CEO
This article aims to challenge your fears and offer a new perspective on why employee development is a win-win, regardless of whether they stay or go.
The importance of team development
Team development is not merely a corporate buzzword; it’s a strategic necessity. Companies that invest in their employees’ growth are much more likely to have a committed and satisfied workforce.
In 2018, LinkedIn conducted a huge report into learning within the workplace. This report widened a lot of eyes within HR and employee development circles, and amongst other surprising results, shone a huge spotlight on the finding that ‘94% of employees surveyed said they would stay at a company longer if it invested in their career development.’
If you were wondering, on the back of this report, LinkedIn has integrated a monthly “InDay”, which is a dedicated day for employees to focus on “themselves, the company, and the world.” Each month features a unique theme, offering a variety of scheduled activities that employees can choose to engage in, or opt to explore independently.
“What if we train them and they leave?”
The fear that employees might leave after receiving training and development provided by the organisation often holds employers back. This fear, while understandable, can lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy where the lack of development causes employees to seek opportunities elsewhere.
There are two facets to addressing this very understandable concern:
- Investing in your employees is about more than just training and development. It’s about fostering a healthy work environment where your staff feel they can flourish and succeed. Focus on building a workplace where your employees are listened to, feel valued, enjoy working, all whilst furthering their skillset. This harks back to that famous Mr. Branson quote which essentially means; create such a great place to work, nobody wants to leave.
- People will leave. In fact, everyone will eventually leave. The quicker your SMT and leaders come to terms with this, the more rapidly you can start handling the challenge with objectivity and begin devising a long-term strategy. Some employees will leave for more pay, some just get bored, and most (at least in our experience) will want to retire at some point. These are all completely natural human behaviours, so don’t fight them; instead focus on how you can make the workday better for those employees still working hard to further the business.
To ensure you’re doing everything you can to retain future staff, we recommend setting up an exit interview process to collect and work on feedback from departing staff. A good starting point is this Indeed article on “Exit Interview Questions You Should Ask”.
“What if we don’t invest in them and they stay!?”
The benefits of developing your employees far outweigh the risks. A well-trained workforce is more productive, adaptable, and better equipped to meet business challenges.
However, the rewards also extend beyond mere numbers or statistics. There is a sense of fulfilment and pride that comes from seeing a once-junior employee rise through the ranks, tackling challenges with confidence and finesse.
This isn’t just about productivity; it’s about cultivating a vibrant, dynamic workplace where each individual feels empowered to reach their full potential. When you offer avenues for growth and self-improvement, you’re not just retaining talent—you’re enriching lives. And in doing so, you’re creating a magnetic culture that not only attracts quality employees but also makes them think twice about ever leaving.
The result? A more harmonious workplace, lower turnover, and a significant reduction in the time and financial resources spent on recruitment.
Even if staff do leave, the alternative—not developing your employees—can be far more detrimental. An underdeveloped workforce can lead to stagnation, decreased morale, and ultimately, a decline in business performance. Therefore, it’s crucial to weigh the long-term benefits against the short-term risks and make informed decisions.
Where can senior leaders start with developing staff?
If you’re in the early stages of initiating an employee development strategy it can be hard to find an area to focus on. The LinkedIn report we mentioned earlier states “Talent developers, executives and people managers agree that training for soft skills is the top priority for teams”. These soft skills include – but are not limited to – Leadership, Communication, Collaboration, and Adaptability.
Change Formation, with over a decade of experience in this field, specialises in coaching your teams to develop these vital skills. We’ve identified key starting points that can serve as a solid foundation for your employee development strategy:
Ongoing Team Development Sessions
Consistency is key when it comes to employee development. Ongoing team development sessions offer a structured, regular space for team members to learn, grow, and reflect together. These sessions can cover a range of topics from problem solving to emotional intelligence, ensuring that your team is well-rounded and adaptable to various challenges.
Investing in effective communication skills training can dramatically improve team cohesion and operational efficiency. Whether it’s learning how to articulate ideas clearly, listen actively, or manage conflicts diplomatically, improving communication skills will have a knock-on effect throughout the entire organisation. It not only enhances individual capabilities, but also elevates the quality of interactions within the team, leading to more collaborative and productive working environments.
Insights Discovery is not just a personality assessment; it’s a transformative tool that provides a comprehensive understanding of an individual’s work style and preferences. By starting here, you can identify the unique strengths and areas for development for each team member. This personalised approach ensures that your development initiatives are targeted and effective, setting the stage for improved team dynamics and individual performance.
The Takeaway: Navigating the Complexities of Employee Development
Building a culture of learning and development is not just beneficial but essential for any organisation aiming for long-term success. By focusing on team development, offering opportunities for growth, and creating a supportive environment, you can greatly reduce the risk of employees leaving after being developed.
With a long-term development strategy, even when employees do leave, your company will be better prepared to adapt and push forward, backed by employees who feel valued, trusted, and better equipped with essential skills.
For those looking for expert guidance in this area, Change Formation’s approved and trusted services are chosen by companies across the UK and around the world.
For more information on how Change Formation can assist you in achieving your team development goals, please complete the contact form.
Other relevant articles:
- The role of senior leadership in successful people development
- How Managers Should support Young People in their Early Careers
- Developing people skills in STEM organisations