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Boosting retention by investing in skills

2021 was dubbed the year of the ‘Great Resignation’ with the subsequent emergence of a ‘fully-fledged employee driven market’.  The onus has never been greater on employers to provide an employee experience that offers strong job satisfaction and a real reason for an employee to stay. Yet, this is difficult to achieve with 60% of HR professionals in 2022 stating that they were ‘finding talent more difficult to retain’.

The challenge

Workplace analysis suggests that just over half of employees who leave a company believe ‘their manager or organisation could have done something to prevent them from leaving their job.’  The challenge therefore for employers is to act proactively to provide their employees with a high-quality employee journey of development and support.

Of course, the challenge of staff retention has different elements. Motivations to leave can include a lack of job fulfilment, sparse career opportunities and having an unsatisfactory work-life balance.  Time investment from businesses to understand the reasons behind employee turnover plays a crucial factor to informing effective decisions to improve staff retention.

Investing in essential skills

One way in which employers can boost retention is through investment in their employees’ essential skills. Essential skills are those highly transferable skills that everyone needs to do almost any job, and which support the application of technical skills and knowledge. They include: listening and speaking; creativity and problem solving; aiming high and staying positive; and teamwork and leadership. They are particularly important because their transferability means they have a long shelf life, and enable more opportunities for progression.

Providing a fulfilling employee experience where individuals feel their skill set is being nurtured and stretched productively means they are more likely to stay. Those who believe their skills are not deployed well in their role were ‘10 times more likely to be looking for a new job than those who feel that their skills are being put to good use’.  

Investment in employees’ essential skills is an effective way to counter the high cost attached to re-hiring staff and to mitigate against the loss of expertise and tacit knowledge when an experienced team member leaves. We know that ‘83% of workers would like more opportunities to build essential skills’, yet ‘only 14% of workers had ever been given the opportunity by their employer to develop essential skills through structured learning.’

Putting it into practice

Building these skills is not straightforward, but the Skills Builder Partnership has brought hundreds of organisations together to develop a simple methodology to do so – the Skills Builder Universal Framework.

The Framework breaks down each of eight skills into small steps which can be taught, practiced and assessed. It helps equip managers with a robust route map to support their teams’ development of essential skills, feeding a positive loop of progress and satisfaction. 67% of managers and talent teams report ‘an improvement in their team’s performance thanks to building essential skills with the Skills Builder approach’ after a six-month period.  This figure is even higher for employees engaging with the Framework approach: 89% employees noted better job performance and a further 75% reported feeling more engaged.  

Examples of the Framework in action

• The Brilliant Club uses the Framework to add ‘structure, consistency, and clarity’ during their annual performance review process

• HS2 uses the Framework to underpin training sessions with apprentices and their mentors. Staff complete a skill reflection using the Framework which shapes line management conversations.

Want to find out more?

Catch up on our virtual workshop ‘Boosting retention by investing in skills’, where we:

• Explored the retention landscape and the challenges faced by employers from our CIPD guest speaker

• Learned more about the value of the essential skill Framework

• Gained practical tips, guidance and support for your business to combat high staff turnover

You can find out more about the 120 employers who are already members of the Skills Builder Partnership and how the Employer Programme is supporting them to transform the impact of their staff development, outreach and recruitment at www.skillsbuilder.org/employers.