Reducing churn and retaining top healthcare talent are crucial to improving patient and resident outcomes and organizational profitability. One way to keep your best employees longer is investing in a learning and development strategy. After all, employees who feel their development is supported by their employers are 21 percent more likely to keep working for you, according to CultureAmp data.

“Providing opportunities for continued learning is key to having employees feel like they are valued and an important part of an organization where success comes through their continued development,” explains Sandra Mohr, Dean of Academic Resources and Administration at the New England College of Optometry. “As the world is changing quickly, it also encourages relevance and [adaptation] to changes in a position or career.”

Not only will a strong learning and development strategy keep your employees happy and continuously engaged, it may also drive down the costs of talent acquisition as you’re more likely to promote from within than recruit external talent.

“The labor market, particularly in healthcare, is so tight right now and recruiters are overwhelmed with positions they need to fill,” says Matt McGuire, Lead Product Manager for HealthcareSource. “It’s very expensive to fill the gaps left by regular employees once you become reliant on overtime or contract staff. It just makes sense to keep investing in the talent you have today.”

You can implement your own learning and development strategy for retention by leveraging the following advice:

Provide a Broad Spectrum of Learning Opportunities

“Thinking of L&D training as just ‘check the box’ compliance training doesn’t increase employee engagement or retention,” Burt Dillenbeck, Senior Manager, Learning Operations for HealthcareSource notes. “L&D needs to make use of all types of training to ensure workers are meeting the legal requirements for employment and receiving both on-the-job training and opportunities for growth.”

It’s just as important for employees to develop their clinical skills as it is for them to become fluent in soft skills like effective communication, conflict resolution, and emotional intelligence. Ensuring your learning and development program covers a variety of trainings will help your employees become more well-rounded and successful in their careers.

Offer Employees Personalized Learning Plans

Allowing your employees to choose their own development paths is empowering and allows them to exercise their autonomy and realize their career goals. However, it’s also a good idea for managers to use their performance appraisals to inform learning plans. For instance, if a manager decides that an employee needs to develop stronger communication skills, then he or she might set up a learning plan dedicated to communication. Developing specific learning paths, comprised of specific courses, allows employees to master skills quickly through a focused curriculum.

Create a Learning and Development Strategy that Supports Employees’ Goals

Even if you develop a specific learning path for your employee based on gaps in their skillsets, it’s still important that you understand and support their personal goals. Sit down with your direct reports and understand what they want to achieve and encourage them to take on the learning that is required to accomplish that goal.

“Making sure that your development strategy aligns with the learner’s goals shows them that you’re equally invested in helping them achieve those goals, you value their talent, and want to see them grow,” McGuire says. “It sends a strong message that they can count on you to help them get to the next step in their career.”

Develop Leaders Early Through Actionable Learning

Training doesn’t stick if it isn’t applied as soon as possible after the learning experience. Ensure educational opportunities provide actionable takeaways that support employees’ daily work and form a foundation for future achievement. In doing so, you’ll be able to develop stronger employees you can later consider for leadership roles.

“Building a strong bench of individual contributors and future leaders is going to help drive down the cost of hiring from outside and assimilating someone into the culture,” McGuire says. “Assessing the competencies of individual contributors early in their leadership journey and providing them with additional education to elevate their skills elevates the organization.”

Evaluate and Iterate Your Processes

It’s vital to develop programs that are efficient and effective in achieving goals. “Upon implementation, develop a way to assess if the training opportunities are adequately addressing the goals,” Mohr suggests. “If yes, continue the method. If no, adapt to better align training with goals and needs.”

“Professional development and a culture of ongoing learning are essential for an organization,” Mohr concludes. “Creating a positive and healthy workplace helps develop an organization where people strive to work and grow in their careers.”

Want to learn more about retaining your healthcare workforce? Watch our on-demand webinar “Engage Employees by Investing in Their Performance and Development.”

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About Margot Carmichael Lester

Margot Carmichael Lester is a North Carolina-based business and brand journalist who has covered healthcare and staffing for more than 20 years. She also writes about moviemaking for the International Cinematographers Guild, specializing in action cinema, and co-authored the award-winning teen writing book, Be a Better Writer. She earned her BA in journalism from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and is a rabid Tar Heel basketball fan.