Most business owners and managers would concede that employee engagement is instrumental to employee retention. You’d see a similar consensus concerning the value of employee retention in general. According to the Center for American Progress, the costs of employee turnover can range from 16% to 213%, depending on the level of employee and the skill and complexity of the job at hand.
Combine these two factors, and it’s fair to reason that most companies understand that high employee engagement levels help save money. To increase employee engagement is to decrease turnover, which in turn can mean keeping more cash in the company coffers.
Also read: Why Learning And Engagement Are Inseparable
Not only are engaged employees less likely to leave in search of greener pastures, but they are also more liable to deliver creative and high-quality work. However, what many businesses fail to understand is what goes into assuring high employee engagement—namely, employee learning and development.
The Effect of Learning and Development on Employee Engagement
As a team leader, have you ever tried to arrange an employee L&D opportunity, only to be shot down by executives, stockholders, or other higher-ups? If so, you aren’t alone.
High-level leaders—especially in big businesses—often fail to see the value of employee learning and development. They want to see specific projections and guarantees about ROI and value, which are difficult to provide. As such, L&D is nowhere near as emphasized in many businesses as it could be.
Here’s the thing, though: L&D is crucial to employee engagement, to the point where it can make or break your company’s campaign for good retention statistics.
These are just a few of the reasons that you can’t have engagement and retention without learning and development:
Active L&D programs signal that employees are valued
An employee doesn’t want to feel like just another grunt or number. On the contrary, your personnel want to feel that the company values them and their worth to the bottom line.
L&D programs, by investing in the ongoing growth of your team members, say “we value you” and “we believe in your potential.” These implicit value statements provide considerable peace of mind and make employees feel more comfortable about settling in and investing themselves in company success.
L&D adds direction to the employee experience
People want to believe that they are going somewhere in their jobs. The average person spends about one-third of their life working, and everyone wants to feel like they spent that time accomplishing something. This impulse is the reason that people set their sights on promotions, or hop from one job to the next, using each position as a stepping stone to the next level.
Learning and development programs are great ways to make employees feel like they are moving forward in their jobs. Since promotions don’t necessarily come about quickly, you need to create a sense of momentum in some other way. L&D is often the best strategy.
Learning and applying new skills can make employees feel more connected to your company mission
When executives ask you to prove the ROI of an L&D program, they are trying to assess what kind of direct benefit a person’s new skills or knowledge might have on the company. Implementation and application of knowledge are the “bottom line” factors of L&D that you need to consider from a purely financial standpoint.
However, while figuring out this kind of ROI is often a means to an end for team leaders, it can also explain one of the main employee engagement benefits of learning and development. When employees can apply the new skills and knowledge they’ve learned to perform their day-to-day work, they not only become more valuable to the company, but they also start to feel more relevant. An employee who can start to take on more responsibilities at work will naturally take more ownership of the work, which is virtually the definition of employee engagement.
Social learning helps foster employee relationships
One of the most overlooked benefits of L&D for learning engagement is the social aspect of it. Learning and development opportunities are often not solo activities. Multiple staff members will attend classes or conferences together, or an entire department will pile into a conference room for a seminar. These social learning experiences not only impart valuable knowledge, but they also help forge strong relationships among your team members.
People who feel like they have friends at work, in turn, are more likely to feel good about getting up and coming into the office in the morning. A friendly atmosphere characterized by ardent team relationships can make work feel less like work, which drives passionate, hard work and cuts down on turnover.
The workplace is, by definition, not home. However, the more you can make an employee feel at home at your place of business, the more engaged they will be and the less likely they will be to seek work elsewhere. Learning and development is a key to creating this welcoming atmosphere.
Employees who have access to compelling L&D programs at work feel that their employers value them, are more capable of contributing to the company’s bottom line, and more likely to climb the ladder to a high-level position. Add the social aspect of many learning experiences, and it isn’t difficult to see the important threads that link employee education, employee engagement, and employee retention.