Rebuilding relationships will become a key talent retention strategy

By putting the power of human relationships at the center of learning and development strategies, organizations will be better placed to attract the best talent amidst the Great Reshuffle and a tight labor market.

As the Great Talent Reshuffle continues into 2022, the most innovative employers are focused not just on retaining talent, but on becoming the place where all of that reshuffling talent wants to end up. They see the Reshuffle as an opportunity to rethink and strengthen their people development strategy to attract employees to their workforce. They are wise to do so as the current labor market puts unprecedented pressure on recruitment, and workers look to professional development opportunities and company culture as key considerations in their job search.

According to the “LinkedIn Global Talent Trends 2022 Report,” professional development programs are one of the main factors employees consider when contemplating their next move. With research indicating that relationships play a significant role in personal and professional growth, employers should implement learning and development programs that foster human connection to optimize employee and organizational growth and attract the best talent into their workforce.  

The importance of relationship-centered development in a hybrid work environment

The most effective — and powerful — professional development programs begin with relationships. Research suggests trusted, empathetic relationships are key to human learning, development and performance. They also powerfully influence whether someone decides to stay with a company. But with virtual and hybrid work remaining the norm, organizations may well wonder how to put relationships back at the center of their strategy, both to attract and to retain their talent.

A recent Microsoft study on working from home found that during the pandemic, productivity and innovation dropped as a result of siloing workplace relationships in the work-from-home environment. As hybrid work environments remain in place for the foreseeable future, employers face the ongoing challenge of keeping their workforces engaged and connected. L&D programs that bring colleagues together virtually offer a way to stimulate employee engagement and strengthen relationships, all while contributing to employee and organizational growth. At a time when people are craving socialization, these programs can help to create a sense of connection and contribute to the tight-knit culture that today’s job seekers want. 

What a relationship-centered development strategy looks like

As businesses continue to face delays in returning to office, they have an opportunity to focus resources on crafting a people development program that bridges existing relationship gaps and attracts new employees. Whatever their return to office plans may be, employers should work to strengthen their L&D strategies in part by looking to optimize relationships that already exist across their workforces and forge new and stronger bonds where there are opportunities to do so. This might include group coaching and training sessions in-person to bring workers together and facilitate peer-to-peer learning, which can inspire colleagues to learn from one another. One-to-one relationships are also particularly powerful, so companies should establish programs for coaching and mentoring that pair colleagues together for a more direct and continuous touchpoint, encouraging close individual relationships as well as conversations about personal and career development.

Employees and coaches also need direct contact with strategic priorities, and that content should not be orthogonal to the coaching program. On the contrary, management priorities should be surfaced for coaches and mentors to better serve the employee, and the holistic people development program can then support a people strategy and culture that prioritizes employees, their well-being and positive relationships among them while aligning with business goals.

The importance of coaching and mentorship relationships — for individuals, and for businesses

A learning program that links passive learning to experiences with trusted teachers, peers, mentors or coaches is the crown jewel of every great L&D strategy. It can also be key to talent retention and acquisition efforts. While digital learning and content aggregators are important, live coaching casts a halo over the broader learning and development stack. Relationships — like those with coaches, mentors, managers or peers — have the greatest power to catalyze growth and behavior change by creating environments of psychological safety, structure and accountability. These relationships also contribute to stronger retention, which is a growing business priority for companies in the most competitive labor market in decades.

Gallup research finds that the cost of replacing an employee can range from half to nearly double their salary, and that voluntary turnover is costing U.S. businesses a trillion dollars a year. As staggering as these figures are, this research was conducted before the Great Talent Reshuffle took hold. Today’s employers face an even greater financial burden from waves of employee departures, and conversely those that are successful in recruiting and retaining talent will see a stronger bottom line. Insights from Torch’s platform find that coaching and mentoring increase retention rates to 80 to 89 percent, significantly higher than the industry average of 74 percent. With the soaring costs of replacing talent, these offerings can deliver an ROI of upward of nine times the cost of implementing them, making them a no-brainer in a job market like the one we face today. 

As employers navigate a challenging labor market, there is an opportunity to be a company that talent seeks out as the place where they will grow their future careers. By putting the power of human relationships at the center of L&D strategies, organizations will be better placed to attract the best talent amidst the Great Reshuffle and a tight labor market.