To Retain Top Employees, Give Them the Tools They Need to Succeed

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There’s no two ways about it: employee retention is a critical driver of a financially healthy organization. Retaining talent isn’t easy, but research has shown that the cost of replacing just one employee can soar to nine months of that single employee’s salary, and Gallup has found that turnover among millennials alone costs the US economy $30.5 billion annually.

It’s clear that today’s businesses can’t afford not to retain employees, but how can companies keep their top talent engaged? There are dozens of great retention strategies out there, but the way we see it here at Quantified, it comes down to leadership.

Employees today want to work for leaders who do two things:

  1. Demonstrate that they care about their employees’ personal and professional development
  2. Give employees the tools they need to succeed—in their current roles and in the next steps up the ladder

What makes us so certain these two elements are the key to employee retention? Research has shown over and over again that great employees don’t want to remain static. They want to develop their skills and progress in their careers. Take millennials, for example — the largest generation in the workforce, according to Pew. A survey from Deloitte found that 63 percent of millennials feel their leadership skills are not being fully developed in their jobs, and of those who plan to leave their current companies in the next two years, 71 percent cite a lack of training opportunities as one of the main reasons.

But show these employees you’re invested in their growth — and back that up by giving them the tools they need to succeed — and you’ll begin to develop a loyal workforce that’s excited to continue giving back to your organization. In other words, they’ll grow with your company rather than outgrowing it.

What Are the Most Important Tools to Give Employees?

There are the technical skills, of course, that come with each role an employee will play. But while those are certainly important, they’re easy enough for talented team members to learn on the job. The truly critical tools leaders can give their employees are the soft skills that will empower them to succeed in any position or overcome any challenge. These are the intangibles, such as teamwork, critical thinking, and empathy, that were once considered “nice to haves” but, today, are must-haves for top employees.

And the most important of those soft skills? Communication.

Not only is communication the top skill employers look for when they’re hiring and recruiting; it’s also the hardest to find. But communication is the skill that empowers leaders to inspire and instruct their teams; it empowers teams to work together to solve problems and innovate; it enables sales representatives to recruit new clients, financial executives to share a brand’s story with potential new investors, engineers to discuss product features with account managers, and individual contributors to share the insights, accomplishments, and ideas that will propel them up the corporate ladder.

In short, no matter the professional goals team members are trying to achieve, communication is the foundation for their success.

So it stands to reason that a leader who wants to give her employees the tools they need to succeed would start with communication.

Traditionally, communication and other soft skills have been difficult and costly to both measure and improve, and that’s led many organizations to put the idea on the backburner or, worse, forget about it altogether. But consider the employees’ perspective. How frustrating is it to know communication is key to your success — or to have been told in a performance report that you need to improve your communication skills — and yet not have the tools to do anything about it? And even worse if your employer isn’t interested in helping you and your teammates develop those skills.

The good news is that, today, innovations in tech like natural language processing, voice recognition, facial analysis, and artificial intelligence place detailed, insightful communication analysis — and custom improvement plans — within arm’s reach for top talent at every level within an organization. No longer is communication training limited to generic workshops or prohibitively expensive one-on-one coaching. Now, organizations can offer small groups and individuals access to data-driven analysis and feedback designed specifically with their needs in mind. These include specific looks at what’s working and what’s not in an employee’s communication, as well as research-backed resources and exercises to drive improvement — and even the ability to track that improvement and adjust the action plan accordingly over time.

For organizations looking to retain top talent in today’s market, it’s critical for leaders to provide those teammates with the tools they need to grow and succeed. And that starts with communication.