How to Add Training to Your Recruitment & Retention Strategy

By Leanne Zacharias, SARC HR Consultant

Many factors influence an employee’s decision to start and continue employment at a specific organization.  One reason that employers often underestimate amidst talk of compensation, benefits, and vacation time, is training and development. 

The effects of effective training and development has the potential to increase the recruitment and retention efforts at your organization.  Why?  Because potential employees are attracted to companies that provide training and professional development.  It’s a clear benefit to them, as it enhances their skill set and equips them to be prepared for their job responsibilities (feeling unsupported in this regard is one of the top contributors in employee turnover). 

There are also clear benefits for employers.  Providing opportunities for growth and skill development can set you apart as an employer of choice, allowing you to attract and keep top talent, and reduce the cost of turnover.  It is widely accepted that in for-profit business, effective training and development leads to increasing revenue and shareholder value, by way of increasing productivity.  In a nonprofit organization, effective training and development can similarly connect to productivity and your bottom line – through quality services provided to clients, employee satisfaction, and retention of valued staff.

Benefits of Adding Training to Your Recruitment and Retention Strategy

One of the most common questions I am asked at career fairs is, “Is there training provided?” Generally, employees of all generations value learning and development.  According to a Gallup study, 87% of Millennials say development is important in a job.  It is important for many reasons, but essentially providing training and development communicates that you are willing to invest in your staff and their skill development.  In a sense, your organization values its people and is willing to add value to them.  It is easy to say you value your employees, but how do you back that up with action?

Another way training and development impacts recruitment is that it allows the organization to be more diverse in hiring.  Of course, you always want to look for skills and experience, but knowing you have training programs to offer, you may have the option to hire for attitude and train for particular skills a candidate doesn’t yet possess. 

Job-related training and development opportunities can influence an employee’s decision to stay at their job. When people are trained appropriately and feel equipped to fulfil their job duties they are more productive, make better decisions, and are generally more engaged.  Under normal circumstances, people generally want to do a good job at work, and training increases confidence that they can do their job well. 

Costs of Not Adding Training to Your Recruitment and Retention Strategy

On the flip side, when people feel they do not have the appropriate training to do their jobs well, it creates discontent.  There is a higher chance of errors, poor decisions, and low morale.  The cost of not training your staff is probably higher than you think.  When you factor in the cost of turnover, lost productivity, errors, and risks associated with those errors (particularly related to client service), not providing training really adds up.

Managers often cite the potential of an employee quitting after training and losing that investment as a deterrence from offering their staff more training.  While this sometimes does happen, don’t let it stop you from training your staff.  Employees more commonly leave because they didn’t receive training, not because they did receive training!  Instead, if this is an issue at your organization rethink the timing and parameters around training offerings. For example, certain training programs that are not essential for new employees could be deferred until a point in time (i.e. six months, one year, etc.) depending on when the majority turnover typically occurs.  As always, be sure to apply a practice like this fairly and consistently to all employees that are eligible for that particular training program.

How to incorporate training into your recruitment and retention strategy:

  1. Firstly, take an inventory of what training programs you currently offer.  These may be formal training courses, informal learning opportunities, conferences, etc.  Some may apply to your entire workforce, while others only to specific positions.  There may be more training and development opportunities than you realize!  On the other hand, you might need to offer more opportunities to fill any skill gaps.
  2. Develop or update your training policy and procedures.  What training is essential and in what timeline?  How will professional development courses be offered and/or requested and approved?  How will you handle reimbursement, travel, etc.?
  3. Create language to use in your recruitment process.
    • Emphasize training in the job posting.  Either list specific courses or a general statement about offering employee training.
    • Talk about training in the interview.  Ask about training in previous jobs to get an understanding of their attitude towards learning, and share about the training provided for their position if they are hired.
  4. Don’t forget about training and development opportunities for more experienced staff.  Training keeps skills relevant and develops new skills to support the vision and direction of the organization.  When employees are learning and building new skills, they are less likely to be bored and disengaged with their work.  Think about soft skill development too (communication, teamwork, conflict resolution, etc.), not only the technical hard skills. 
  5. Invite employees to recommend training that they are interested in or feel they would benefit from.  Include discussion around this in your annual performance appraisals so it doesn’t get forgotten.

Think of employee training as an investment in an employee’s knowledge, skills, and abilities.  It can build loyalty, improve employee motivation, and work towards building a culture of learning. 

Eligible SARC Members can add training to their recruitment and retention strategy at no cost to them with COMPASS.  For more information on the COMPASS training package, visit:


Please Note: The included information is for reference only, and SARC and its Members, their employers, officers, and Directors assume and accept no liability for any consequences arising from the use, non-use, accuracy, or legal compliance of any of the information, tools, or resources provided.

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