How skills-based development and advancement can help you retain skilled talent

Earlier this year the Department of Labor announced the U.S. unemployment rate fell to its lowest level in 50 years. The economy continues to add jobs and workers have plenty of options available to them. In this tight labor market, it’s important that employers retain their skilled workers.

Employee turnover is expensive (replacing a salaried employee costs 6 to 9 months’ salary on average) and time consuming (the average time it takes to fill a position is 42 days). Aside from helping you hire the right talent, skills-based practices can also help you keep your best employees.

Skills-based development and advancement is a strategy for businesses to develop employees’ skills in response to growth, changing business plans, and other challenges. This strategy helps ensure the skills your workers obtain help you meet your business goals, increase productivity, and respond to changes in your company.

How skills-based employee development can help you retain workers:

A key component of employee retention is employee development. As automation and technology are changing the world of work, employees are valuing development opportunities over other kinds of benefits.  According to LinkedIn, 94% of employees would stay at a company longer if it invested in helping them learn new skills. Skills-based development helps you find the right type of training for your employees by focusing on the skills they need to be successful in their current or future role.

How is skills-based development different than traditional methods? 

Skills-based development is different from traditional development methods because it is a guided and supported journey that both employees and employers embark on. This journey requires employers to be involved in the process by mapping out advancement opportunities available in their companies, examining employees’ competencies, exploring training options, and validating employees’ skills. Traditional development, on the other hand, is often a sink or swim “process,” where the employee is given stretch assignments that they are expected to complete without the proper training or support.

A Harvard Business Review Advisory Council and Degreed survey found that only 26% of individuals turn to their employer’s HR training or learning team when they need to learn something for their jobs, while 65% use websites such as YouTube to find the information they need. This study shows how often people are left without guidance or support in finding the appropriate learning opportunity for their skill development. A hands-off approach to development leaves people feeling like they don’t have the guidance they need to advance in their careers and develop the skills they need to thrive in their positions.

Why skills-based advancement is more successful:

The Peter Principle, is an observation that in most corporations, employees rise in the hierarchy through promotion until they reach a level of respective incompetence. A traditional advancement strategy uses current success to assumes future abilities in a new role, which oftentimes sets employees up for failure because they haven’t developed the skills their new role requires. This approach results in companies making bad promotional decisions that they often feel stuck with the consequences.

Using a skills-based approach to employee advancement increases the likelihood an employee succeeds when they are promoted, by developing the skills needed in their new position before promoting them. A skills-based advancement strategy ensures employees are getting the right training and are promoted on the skills needed for the new role rather than being promoted based on the success in their current role.

To learn more about how you can implement skills-based practices visit our Employer page, where you can also sign up for in-person and online trainings.