Employers Shouldn't Fear The Great Resignation. They Should Learn From It. Now is the time to ask yourself if you're giving employees enough reason to stay. Here are strategies that will help you retain your talent.

By Jeff Meade

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

The Great Resignation came to a roaring head at the beginning of 2022. In March, 4.5 million workers left their jobs, leaving employers worried about the future of work. This major employee exodus is causing businesses to face a hard truth: Most employees won't work for them forever.

A balancing act is being restored in the employee-employer relationship, which isn't necessarily bad for employers. Rather than fearing the Great Resignation, business leaders should look at it as an opportunity to be introspective and ask themselves: Am I giving my employees a reason to stay?

The world of work is changing. As company pensions have gone to the wayside, so have many of the benefits associated with working at the same company throughout an entire career. If companies want people to invest their time and energy with them, they need to reciprocate the investment and provide employees the opportunity for personal and professional growth.

Related: Great Resignation or Great Redirection?

Investing in employees doesn't just benefit their professional development, though. It also helps your company as a whole. For professional service industries such as marketing and law, your people are your most important asset. By investing in employees, you're simply investing in an asset that generates revenue for your business. Furthermore, it's expensive to replace employees after they leave. Research suggests this can cost up to two times the employee's annual salary. Committing to employee development can help reduce turnover, ultimately saving your company thousands of dollars.

Employee development is no longer optional; it's necessary. If you want to retain talent in today's job market, you need to invest in your employees. Here are a few ways to get started:

1. Organize learning opportunities for your team

A strong business culture requires employee engagement and exceptional work performance. Investing in employee education ensures both. Companies that provide employee development opportunities have an 11% boost in profits compared to companies that don't commit to employee engagement. Furthermore, 94% of employees say they would stay with a company longer if it invested in career development. Your employees want to learn and grow. If you fail to upskill company talent continuously, your workers are more likely to leave when new opportunities arise.

Related: This Is What Job Seekers Want the Most

It can sometimes be challenging to know what development opportunities your team needs. It's important to ask your employees what workshops, classes and certifications they would find helpful. From there, you can create an individual development plan (IDP) for each employee. When creating IDPs, make sure to ask, "Where do you want to be professionally?" to create a plan that helps each employee reach their next professional level. You'll also want to track how many hours of professional development every team member receives. Make it a company goal for this number to grow annually.

2. Provide career development and growth in your organization

One of the many reasons employees leave companies is that they can't see a way to grow within organizations. Career pathing can be a helpful tool for supervisors to show employees the potential trajectory of their careers. Unlike climbing the traditional career ladder, which establishes levels to reach, career pathing takes a more holistic approach. A career path could include promotions, job rotations, lateral moves and training opportunities.

By highlighting company positions where employees can explore their interests and flex their individual strengths, you can improve workplace satisfaction, reduce turnover and improve engagement. Furthermore, by improving engagement, you can improve workplace productivity. Engaged teams are 17% more productive than their unengaged teammates. Leaders should work to identify and help employees develop soft skills such as leadership and flexibility. Experts say focusing on the development of specific skill sets will allow employees to adapt and transform along with their organizations.

Before you begin creating employee career paths:

  • Establish how your company's internal career paths look.

  • Consider what paths are possible in each department of your company and what cross-departmental moves might occur.

  • Outline the skills needed for employees to navigate each path successfully.

3. Create a succession plan for leadership positions

Company leaders won't work forever, so you need a plan in place for when it's time for them to retire. Creating a succession plan helps prepare both your company and top talent for the future. Succession planning also helps foster employee engagement. A poll found that 62% of employees say they strongly believe they would find themselves "significantly more engaged" if their companies established succession plans.

Related: If You're the Lifeblood of Your Business, Then You've Doomed It to Failure

Succession plans should develop new leaders, which helps employees feel challenged and valued. Before choosing company successors, ask people about their career goals and what they hope to achieve at work. This will help you determine whether your succession plan matches a certain employee's aspirations or whether you need to find someone else. Key stakeholders should make recommendations on how to best prepare their successors. They should identify areas where their replacements need to grow and learn while spending time mentoring these soon-to-be leaders.

Employees are reclaiming their power and reevaluating what they want from their careers, but employers shouldn't fear the shift. Instead, they should embrace it as an opportunity to create an environment that fosters employee growth. By supporting your employees' professional development, not only are you improving their lives but also your company as a whole.

Jeff Meade

Founder and CEO of MEADE

Jeff Meade is the founder and CEO of MEADE, where he provides small to midsize marketing services firms and in-house marketing teams with the trusted advice needed to scale their business and performance. Meade is based in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

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