Weekly Editorial

Learning and Development: Attracting and Retaining Top Talent

Written By Rob Kirkbride, Editor-in-chief, OI Publications • September 18, 2023

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Consider this: More than half of Millennials, who currently make up the majority of the workforce, consider growth and learning as extremely important when applying for a job. So what kind of training and development are you doing to help attract and retain talent and when should it start?

Unless you are hiring Albert Einstein, training should begin with employee onboarding. Have you ever started a new job only to find you are given little direction or clear expectations? If you’ve ever found yourself in this position, you know how frustrating it can be to flounder around a new office with little direction other than to work.

Onboarding helps new employees feel like they are part of the team and valued. And it will help them hit the ground running — making them quickly more effective. We covered the importance of onboarding last week, so check out the column if you want to learn more.

Learning and development is a hugely important concern, especially to young employees. According to the Society of Human Resource Management, learning and development programs are an appealing benefit. Skills training is one of the top perks younger workers look for in a new job, according to a 2021 Gallup survey conducted on behalf of Amazon. In that survey, 66% of workers ages 18-24 ranked learning new skills as the third-most important perk when evaluating new job opportunities, behind only health insurance and disability benefits. A recent LinkedIn Workplace Learning Report also revealed that Gen Z is concerned with learning and career growth, with 76% of them believing that learning is the key to a successful career.

And it is not just new hires that value learning and development. HR data shows that 45 percent of employees left their old jobs over concerns about a lack of advancement opportunities. On top of that, some 56 percent of organizations struggle to keep high-potential and top-performing employees.

Smart business owners and managers understand the importance of training and development, yet a lot of companies still don’t offer much in the way of on-the-job learning. In part, that’s because businesses are concerned about return on investment. Since learning and development programs are hard to measure in terms of ROI, it can be pushed aside since the benefits might seem intangible.

Some so-called managers believe that if you train your employees, you are just giving them more tools to find a different job. That’s not management and if you believe that, you have bigger problems than keeping employees at your company.

Learning and development is a long-term investment in your employees and company. And it doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. In fact, the commercial interiors industry is full of training opportunities, often for little or no money. It is one of the few benefits of the pandemic — training opened up and went digital, meaning your employees can sign up for webinars from a variety of companies and organizations that range from color theory to green design and everything in between. Since the pandemic, I’ve received at least one invite every other week to learning events.

I’ll give you one to start. BIFMA is hosting an online event called “Finding Your Future Within The Furniture Industry: Design, Program, Make, Sell, or Manage Those Who Do” on Sept. 26 from 12:30-1:30 p.m. EDT. The online event will showcase the diverse career opportunities within the commercial furniture sector and offer insights from current industry young professionals. It is free for anyone to attend and you can register here.

Ben Franklin is my favorite Founding Father for many reasons, including his insatiable love of learning. I’ll leave you with one of his quotes: “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.”


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