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Employee Retention: Is Training Really the Answer?

31% of new hires plan to leave their current role within the year.

Though industries like hospitality and retail generally suffer from substantially higher turnover rates, just about all corporate training and human resources teams face the challenge of maintaining talent. Research by iHire suggests that 31 percent of new hires plan to leave their current role within the year and 75 percent will leave within five years. Though training can help address some of the problems that drive turnover, it won’t cure everything. There are often organizational issues that can’t be resolved with employee onboarding and continuous development alone. The first challenge is knowing how to determine whether the solution requires employee development.

How to Know When Training Is Not Enough

It’s important first to distinguish between situations when training is or not the most effective solution. One way to conceptualize the difference is through the Two-Factor Theory, first articulated by psychologist Frederick Herzberg. According to his theory, the two factors that contribute to employee retention are motivators and hygiene factors.

No amount of training will make up for a wage gap or poor benefits.

Motivators are positive attributes based on the conditions of the job itself. For example, motivators might include completing challenging work, meeting quotas, recognition of one’s achievements, and so on. On the other hand, hygiene factors are the conditions that don’t contribute much positivity but create job dissatisfaction when absent (for example, job security, compensation, paid insurance, consistent scheduling). Whereas motivators can be influenced by effective employee onboarding and continuous development, hygiene factors tend to be organizational problems.

When the problem has to do with hygiene factors, the solution is simple, though not necessarily easy, especially if employees are dissatisfied because of compensation or raise wages. If employees are dissatisfied because of workload fatigue, allow longer vacations and increase PTO. But no amount of training will make up for a wage gap or poor benefits.

Corporate Training for Employee Retention

If the problem is based on a motivator, then the next step is to determine what type of learning experience will be effective. Though there are as many solutions as there are training challenges, here are some factors common to retail.

Improving Leadership: Employees often leave companies because of bad managers. Yet, most leadership challenges can be solved with a few key skills. Executive coaching is tailored to address this problem by promoting the key operational and interpersonal competencies that make leaders more effective.

Personalizing for Generations: Today’s workforce consists of individuals from various generations, each with subtly differing motivators and expectations. So, your training may need a bit of personalization based on the results of your audience analysis. What do your learners intrinsically value?

First Impressions: Employees form impressions about their companies during the first few days on the job and those impressions generally last through the first six months of employment. So, engaging employee onboarding is vital to creating a positive experience.


It’s important to remember that employee retention is often more complex than employee onboarding can solve alone. Hygiene factors may play significant roles. So, consider a thorough needs analysis to determine the root cause before building a solution that would only address part of the challenge.