By Corporate English Solutions

30 January 2023 - 15:38

5 reasons why L&D is crucial for talent retention

The role of L&D in talent retention should not be underestimated. Prioritising learning and development gives organisations a competitive edge – helping both employees and the business grow. Discover the 5 top ways a targeted L&D approach can support retaining the best talent and how it can also boost engagement, performance and productivity.


Reading time: 6 minutes

The world of work, some say, has changed forever. 

More people than ever are re-evaluating where, how and even why they work. Over 50 million have quit their jobs. The Great Resignation – which began in early 2021 –

isn’t showing signs of slowing down soon. A recent survey reports that 49% of employees plan to explore their career options this year.

And those who don’t (or can’t) leave their jobs are “quiet quitting,” not going above the minimum requirements of their role descriptions. A phenomenon affecting almost half of the U.S. workforce – and spreading globally.

Why so much dissatisfaction? 

Beyond the obvious factors of wanting higher pay and greater flexibility, 21% who left their jobs in 2022 stated “there wasn’t room for growth.” And 59% feel their employers could do more to advance their careers.

So, what does all this mean for L&D in 2023 and beyond? How do you implement learning initiatives in the midst of high turnover and disengaged employees? And how to get buy-in (and budget) for L&D in this current climate? 

Read on to discover the 5 top reasons L&D is a critical factor to talent retention. And the steps L&D leaders can take to make their organisations an attractive place to work (and stay). 

1. Learning provides employees with a sense of professional growth and drives performance

During and post-pandemic, there has been increasing focus on maintaining organisational, team and individual performance. In these uncertain economic times, employees are concerned about keeping their roles and performing well. In fact, 55% say they need additional training to perform better in their roles.

Because when employees don’t get the tools, training, time and resources to do their jobs well, they become unhappy and unproductive. That’s why over 70% of employees prefer to stay with companies that provide continuous growth opportunities. And why L&D is so crucial to any talent retention strategy.

So, what can L&D teams prioritise? You can make learning opportunities a central part of the employee experience by:

  • developing targeted, relevant and engaging training programmes in the flow of work
  • having a clear internal communications strategy so employees know about the learning opportunities available to them
  • ensuring employees are aware of the long-term career possibilities within the organisation and how they are linked to continuous skills development. 

2. Employees feel valued when given opportunities to learn 

Professional growth is good. But employees also want to be recognised. According to McKinsey research, 54% surveyed quit their jobs because they didn’t feel valued by their organisation. Encouraging a culture of recognition combined with the right L&D opportunities can help ground employees. And be a practical talent retention strategy.

It may not always be possible to reward them financially, especially during these times of economic uncertainty. But L&D can be positioned as part of an employee’s ‘total reward package’. 

Implementing personalised, flexible, targeted, learning pathways demonstrates to employees that the organisation is keen to invest in their growth. Sponsorship of qualifications can be particularly attractive as they build employees’ CVs. Opportunities for one-to-one learning, such as coaching or mentoring, demonstrate that the organisation is willing to invest time in an individual’s learning.

With these L&D approaches to retaining talent, your employees can grow and feel appreciated. 

3. Integrating social learning increases connection and the sense of belonging

The past three years of hybrid, remote working has brought benefits to those who desire greater flexibility and autonomy. But many, especially younger workers, find it a lonely experience. Research shows that 67% say it is difficult to make friends and maintain relationships with colleagues when working from home.

Social learning can be an engaging talent retention solution as it creates a greater sense of community among hybrid, remote employees. Also, by sharing the learning experience with others, networking opportunities increase connection across teams, departments and geographies.

If you need to present the business case for making social learning an integral part of a talent retention strategy, consider these benefits:

  • Having a sense of belonging, support and psychological safety increases engagement.
  • Problem-solving and idea-sharing during collaborative learning help learners feel supported, knowing they can turn to others when facing challenges. 
  • Opportunities to discuss challenges during shared learning allow learners to show vulnerability, creating a sense of trust and connection between them.

These factors also help retain (and attract) Gen Z employees, who will make up a third of the workforce by 2030.

4. Learning opens up career opportunities within the organisation

Did you know that 2 out of 3 employees say they would stay longer at their company if it were easier to change jobs internally? And it increases to 3 in 4 for senior management. Further, those that move into new jobs internally are 3.5x more likely to be engaged than those who stay in their current roles.

And organisations are just as eager to have them stay and move up internally. Providing upskilling and reskilling opportunities that support internal mobility can be one of the best approaches to retaining talent.

Ensuring employees are aware of internal career progression can motivate them to continue upskilling and reskilling and stay within the organisation. And integrating ‘high potential’ programmes into your talent retention plan can motivate key talent to stay and grow their careers in the organisation.  

And let’s not forget another significant benefit of internal mobility. Reduced costs. Numerous studies estimate that the total cost of losing an employee can be up to 1.5-2x annual salary.

5. Upskilling managers is critical to satisfied employees  

The well-known expression, ‘People don’t leave jobs, they leave managers,’ has some truth to it. Fifty-two per cent of employees say they quit because they didn’t feel valued by their manager

Yet, it’s important to remember that managers are employees too. The pandemic has made it even more difficult for some to manage. Many leaders had to adapt quickly to hybrid or remote management without any training. And economic uncertainty is increasing the pressure for managers to drive business growth. Making some leaders feel they don’t have the time to focus on team engagement or talent retention.

Rather than increasing technical capabilities, emerging and experienced managers need to develop leadership and soft skills such as communication, EQ and cultural intelligence. By increasing their ability to adapt to different team members and situations, they will better manage complex teams and handle challenging situations. Particularly through periods of change, uncertainty and the ever-evolving context of a hybrid, remote workforce. 

They also need to commit to developing the tools and skills to support growth and respond to the ever-changing context and needs of their team.

When managers empower their teams, they become more engaged and committed to staying with the organisation. And with this comes increased performance and productivity – as well as the retention of top talent.

The competitive advantage of L&D

It’s clear that L&D can play a key part in talent retention. With a targeted approach, L&D can boost job satisfaction, engagement, productivity and performance. All of which contribute to business growth – and happier employees.

With over 80 years’ experience of working in over 100 countries in 6 continents, we have unrivalled experience of professional development for organisations. Leverage our consultancy and training expertise to grow your teams’ skills and retain key talent. 

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