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This Is How to Boost Employee Retention With Lifelong Learning Wondering how to decrease turnover and increase competence at the same time? Open your (metaphorical) textbooks.

By Peter Daisyme

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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Employee turnover is costlier than you might realize -- in fact, some estimates indicate that finding and training a replacement can cost up to twice the former employee's salary. Clearly, you want to incentivize your employees to stick around. The good news is, investing in them is a great way to accomplish this goal while improving the outlook for your business.

Related: 6 Cloud-Based Learning Platforms That Can Help Educate Your Workforce

According to LinkedIn's 2018 Workplace Learning Report, 94 percent of employees surveyed said they would stay in a role longer if their employer invested in their career. Then again, these same employees believed that they didn't have the time to learn new skills, or pursue additional training to hone the ones they had -- putting the onus squarely on employers to make learning a priority.

Encouraging continued education

The skills that employees need to succeed at work are changing rapidly, and the most effective companies today are those that can quickly adapt to new industry developments. A focus on continued learning is a great way to help employees stay competitive in their industry, while ensuring they are ready to cope with changes. That's why companies must take an active role in cultivating the right learning environment.

Fortunately, LinkedIn also found that 56 percent of employees surveyed were willing to take a course recommended by their manager, and many courses exist that can benefit employees in any role. The survey findings illustrated that managers, talent developers and executives all agreed on the importance of training soft skills, including leadership, communication and collaboration.

Related: 4 Ways to Train Employees Effectively

Training for role-specific skills might not be as readily available as generic training. But whatever you provide employees in the way of teaching resources, the ultimate goal is to incite a culture change that makes your organization a great place to stay. To make continued learning an expectation in your organization, follow these five steps.

1. Make learning the goal.

Goals are excellent ways to encourage certain behaviors. In the same way that salespeople set quotas, employees need to set learning goals. Whether that means helping an employee complete a course at a local university or earn a relevant certification online, setting goals can help them track progress toward a specific end.

So encourage employees to work toward their goals; and when they achieve them, encourage them to set new ones that push them to reach higher.

Related: Your Top Employees Are Learning New Skills on Their Own Time. Here's What You Should Do.

2. Coax them into the classroom.

Encourage learning outside of the work environment. When employees pursue education that makes them better at their jobs, reimburse the costs whenever possible -- it'll be less expensive than dealing with turnover! Investing in your employees will make them more productive, and it will also increase job satisfaction and incentivize them to stay with your company. Encourage employees to share new skills with their colleagues, and you'll see additional benefits from the collaboration.

Related: Why Companies Are Taking It Upon Themselves to Help Workers Learn New Skills

3. Design learning initiatives with workflow in mind.

Technology such as a learning management system (LMS) can facilitate education, but only if employees use it. Christopher Pappas, CEO and founder of eLearning Industry, explained on how to incorporate this learning technology: "Carefully evaluate everyday workflows to see where the LMS fits into the big picture and how it can streamline employee practices," Pappas wrote.

"For instance, identify which tasks employees regularly perform and pinpoint which LMS features tie into these processes." An LMS can be a significant investment and will always be most effective when integrated naturally into your employees' typical workflows.

4. Reach across departments.

Whether it's at a lunch-and-learn or on a collaborative project, your team members have a lot to learn from each other. Cross-department training helps to make your company more agile by helping your employees see beyond their job descriptions. When people are more aware of how their work affects their co-workers' day-to-day tasks, they're better equipped to make small changes that streamline operations and change your company for the better.

Related: To Motivate Employees, Find a Balance Between Job Enrichment and Job Enlargement

5. Give your learners a gold star.

According to the American Psychological Association, 93 percent of employees surveyed who said they felt valued at work were more motivated to do their best. Rewarding employees who reach their learning goals is a great way to show your appreciation and bring out their best efforts, whether you use monetary compensation or another incentive. Recognition has the added benefit of encouraging them to learn more, perpetuating the cycle of continued education.

Lifelong learning offers a multitude of benefits. Additional education makes employees more effective at their jobs; and when companies prioritize learning, employees appreciate the investment. The result is greater job satisfaction and a more committed workforce.

Related: 4 Ways Businesses Need Employee Learning Programs in Order to Grow

All this increases productivity, but perhaps the most important advantage is the alleviation of the high costs associated with employee turnover. To realize all these benefits, make learning a priority in your organization.

Peter Daisyme

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® Contributor

Co-founder of Hostt

Peter Daisyme is the co-founder of Hostt, specializing in helping businesses host their website for free for life. Previously, he was co-founder of Pixloo, a company that helped people sell their homes online, which was acquired in 2012.

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