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10 Employee Development Strategies for Lower Attrition Rates

• 6 min read

Never let your team members stand still when it comes to employee development strategies. From the moment new employees join your team throughout their time with you, they should always have opportunities for personal and professional development.

That’s not just a lofty goal. Research shows that 94% of employees stay at their company longer if they get professional development opportunities—while also becoming 15% more productive at work.

But building an employee development program can seem like an impossible challenge. Finding the right development methods leading to employee growth is difficult. Even the most seasoned HR professionals can struggle to build job training their teams actually appreciate.

Fortunately, you don’t have to sift through the myriads of learning opportunities you might provide your team members. Instead, we’ve done the work for you, outlining the top 10 employee development strategies you can implement to enhance skill development, improve the employee experience, and ultimately reduce employee turnover.

Why do you need employee development strategies?

Before we dig into the hands-on plans and templates you can leverage, let’s take a moment to talk about just how your organization can benefit from implementing one or more employee development strategies:

  • Improving your employees’ skill sets relevant to their position, ultimately making them more productive in their jobs
  • Enhancing personal development, leading to better integration into the team, higher acceptance of their work environment, and better team morale
  • Developing soft skills that can not only help in their current position but also facilitate career development and an eventual move into leadership roles

Put it all together, and you get an impact of your development initiatives that directly impact your business goals. Higher job satisfaction and learning new skills create the types of professionals every organization needs. You get there by finding the right employee development strategies.

Ten employee development strategies to upskill your team and improve employee retention

Ready to get started? These employee development strategies span the spectrum of development activities, from basic organizational know-how for new hires all the way to mentorship programs to make even experienced employees feel welcome. Best of all, they are all designed to unlock learner engagement to build buy-in from every individual employee.

1. Strategic onboarding

Let’s start at the beginning. Your human resources department likely already has some type of onboarding in place. But how you build that onboarding process makes all the difference.

Start by personalizing your onboarding experience to your employees. Learning their competencies and offering training based on the skill set they’ll need once they start in earnest can go a long way toward an experience designed to support employee success.

Another key to success is to make your onboarding experience as social as possible. In addition to focusing on performance management from the first day, connect employees who might be starting together or on the same team. That makes your new hires feel more connected from day one, ultimately making them more likely to stick with you long-term.

2. In-team mentoring

Speaking of social experiences, it’s difficult to overstate the importance of mentorship programs. More than three-quarters of employees see the value of mentoring and actively pursue mentoring initiatives, whether they’re new at a company or looking to continue engaging over time.

Of course, it’s about more than just sticking an experienced employee with a less experienced team member and hoping for the best. Be careful in matching skill sets and personalities. You might even want to ensure that the mentors you choose are further along on the same career path that their mentees envision. That provides them with instant credibility, which they can then leverage into working together for greater success chances.

3. Workshops and webinars to reduce skills gaps

If you’re looking for specific upskilling or reskilling opportunities, in-person workshops and webinars are a great place to start. Focus them on particular skills your employees might want to learn, then provide them with incentives to enroll and learn from them.

For example, you might want to consider a series of lunch-and-learn events on soft skills like leadership or communication. Provide the lunch, and be sure not to schedule any regular meetings in the same time slot. Voila: there is now no reason for any team member interested in self-improvement on those skills to stay away and not take advantage of this employee learning opportunity.

4. Self-paced online training

If you’re looking to integrate skills-based training into the flow of work, webinars and workshops may not always work well. They take significant time and dedication—unlike online training, which is easy to integrate into even the busiest workday for your teams.

Self-paced online training is a great development option for remote and in-person teams alike. It allows your teams to upskill on a specific task or skill, removing the barriers that are so common for most employee development strategies.

Think of it as just-in-time learning. When your employees think they need to learn a new skill or improve on a current one and have just a few minutes, your online training options are available at a moment’s notice.

5. Online certifications

Simple online training may be convenient, but your employees can also benefit from more comprehensive online training to acquire and master new skills—especially if they can then highlight those skills elsewhere.

Consider offering online certifications for courses your employees take. They might range from general (like digital marketing) to specific (like a specific skill in programming equipment unique to your company). The certificate may come with recognition, like a mention in the company-wide newsletter or a badge to display on their LinkedIn profile, that further motivates participation.

6. Performance-based employee development plans

Every year, your employees likely undergo an annual review. But is that review about looking back, or is it about improving employee performance in the future? What steps you take after each review sheds light on what the purpose really is. 

Create a standard employee development plan. Ideally, it should focus on any shortcomings or improvement opportunities that the annual review might have unearthed, along with a timeline and plan for how to improve them. The plan culminates in 12 months when the next review is ready.

A 12-month plan like this is simple but effective. It ensures that your team members can take tangible steps to ensure that they keep improving. They can also find new learning opportunities that benefit themselves and the organization.

7. Job shadowing

It can be a powerful onboarding tool, but don’t overlook job shadowing for your current employees, either. The ability to follow around a member of the team who is doing what you should be doing or want to do can be an invaluable way to learn about the role they occupy. Job shadowing is especially relevant in leadership development efforts. There, aspiring leaders can learn how to supervise and lead larger teams.

Of course, you can’t just have random team members following others around. Instead, building a job shadowing program has to be strategic. Gather a list of professionals open to being shadowed, and define with them exactly what others can learn from them. Then, create a structure that outlines:

  • How long the process will take
  • How many meetings will occur
  • What to do to ensure employees take the right lessons away from it

The more intentional each step of the process is, the better.

8. Intentional job rotations

In addition to shadowing others at work, your team members can also benefit from rotating around different jobs to diversify their skill sets. Especially for entry-level employees who may be focused on a single task, these kinds of rotations can be invaluable in building a more well-rounded professional profile to benefit their career and understanding of the company.

For example, a new accounting hire might rotate among the accounts receivable, finance, and procurement departments. You can even expand their rotations further by including them in marketing or supply chain roles. The more they can contribute across departments, the more versatile they become over time.

9. Soft skills and people skills development

To most employees, personal and people development is just as important as skills-based training. That’s what makes focusing on soft skills such a valuable part as you look to build out your employee development strategies.

Regular team-building exercises fall under this umbrella. So do simple opportunities for your team members to get to know each other as they work on group projects. The key is intentionally moving participants away from their daily jobs. Then they can focus specifically on building those soft skills that will benefit them both in and outside their day jobs.

10. Off-site talent development opportunities

Finally, don’t underestimate the potential power of taking your teams away from company premises for further development.

 Done right, any of the elements listed in this guide can become more powerful when off-site. It allows participants to focus more closely on the subject matter at hand. That’s what makes employees attending conferences for professional development so valuable.

But even smaller workshops or team-building exercises can have the same effect. As a bonus, your employees will value the opportunity to take a trip on the company budget, even if it’s only for an afternoon or a day.

Build a learning culture to drive employee engagement with the right LMS

There is no single magic formula for employee development strategies. Instead, you’ll find the leaders in this space leveraging a mix of the above to ensure successful employee retention and productivity at every level.

Those leaders tend to have one thing in common, though: the right platforms and foundations to implement these strategies. The right learning management system provides online learning opportunities in structured and convenient ways.

Ready to learn more about learning and development? Book your demo for Docebo, the #1 global learning platform, today. Learn the difference the right LMS can make as you look to retain your employees and enhance their productivity.