Future-Proofing Your Workforce: Increase Retention Through Learning and Development

It’s been quite clear for a long time now that we’re living in an era of constant change and upheaval. The past couple of years have been particularly challenging for several reasons: we’ve been pushed and pulled in multiple directions as we try to wrap our heads around global shutdowns, political discord, and high tensions abroad.

And today — right smack in the middle of all that chaos — we find ourselves combating a dramatic shift in the workforce as the Great Resignation (or Great Reshuffle) takes the country by storm.

Employers, it seems, just can’t do enough to retain their employees. Particularly health systems.

Healthcare professionals (nurses, medical assistants, pharmacy technicians, and clinicians) are all shifting careers or quitting their jobs so fast that it’s almost impossible for the industry to keep up.

For perspective:

  • The turnover rate in healthcare has risen nearly 5% across all jobs in the industry over the last decade.
  • 53.8% of Allied Health employees leave their jobs within two years.
  • Data from Elsevier Health shows that 75% of healthcare workers will leave the industry by 2025—unless we do something about it.
  • The World Health Organization estimates that by 2030, there will be a healthcare workforce gap of around 14.5 million.

While these stats seem indicative of a troubling trend, there’s still time for employers to turn this around. All it takes is a slight shift in their approach to hiring star talent and convincing them to stay for the long haul.

Why Learning and Development?

As the industry evolves, it’s clear that the most in-demand skills for healthcare professionals will change over time. Further, 50% of the entire workforce will need to retrain if they want to stay employable.

We’re talking about skills like digital literacy, cognitive flexibility, and emotional intelligence. They’re all increasing in value, replacing skills that are well on their way to irrelevance.

And that’s why, if future-proofing their workforce is a high priority, employers should be exploring viable, on-the-job learning and development programs.

That goes for industries outside of healthcare as well.

A recent survey found that 77% of professionals in nearly every sector are more than willing to put in the effort to upskill and make themselves more employable. They’re also willing to switch employers in favor of those that offer long-term career development opportunities.

Yet, for many organizations, the time and effort something like this requires might seem like a sunken cost. It’s mostly because it’s difficult to justify any expense that doesn’t yield almost immediate returns. It makes those responsible for budgets a little nervous as they watch money go out the window without anything coming back in.

But true ROI in learning and development takes time, between six months and one year on average.

What does that ROI look like, you ask?

  • Retention rates increase by 25% to 60%
  • Engagement and morale both get a much-needed boost
  • Long-term cost savings range anywhere from 100,000 to one million dollars per year — depending on the size and reach of the organization

There’s a high level of flexibility, too. How learning and development get folded into each organization’s overarching people strategy will change drastically based on several factors: industry, internal goals, company size, and hiring needs.

But the end results are pretty universal.

It all comes down to what many experts consider to be one of the greatest appreciating assets in any field: people.

Professionals want to feel valued and supported in their careers. And, the employers actively dismissing this as some sort of trivial fad are falling dangerously behind in the hiring game. Exceptional talent is growing more and more difficult to find. Competition is so fierce that employers have no choice. They must acknowledge continuous learning and development as a viable alternative to the broken hiring processes. A process that has come up so woefully short of yielding any significant returns.

It’s a scary world out there, we know.

Yet, we’ve all stayed the course. And, despite the seemingly endless barrage of bad news filling all our timelines on social media, there still seems to be an undercurrent of optimism that permeates all our lives. We — as innovators, providers, and passionate professionals — can’t fix everything. Still, we can cling to that spark of hope and embrace new solutions. We might find that the current skills crisis in the workforce is just a small blip in time and the future. This future, however distant, is incredibly bright.

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