Guest Commentator: Andy Sofish, Principal, and Joanna Bergeron, Chief Talent Officer, CapTech Ventures, Inc.
How do professional development opportunities impact regional talent retention?
Many businesses in Greater Philadelphia and other markets find that employee retention has become a hot-button issue. Turnover is costly, impacts morale and can compromise productivity, customer service and client delivery. In such a competitive hiring market, attracting top talent is expensive and time-consuming. Moreover, replacing highly skilled employees in a specialized field can be extremely challenging.
At CapTech, we have found that focusing on developing our people and building leaders within our organization supports our long-term growth strategy. When our employees feel connected and invested in our organization, our entire company is stronger and our clients are better served. Another bonus of employees who are fulfilled in their careers is they let others know—which aids in the recruiting process. Roughly 45% of our hires come from referrals by current employees.
We focus on five facets of professional development as part of our talent strategy:
• Transparency. Help employees understand what skills and competencies they must have if they are to evolve as leaders within the organization. We find that employees who know what it takes to advance are empowered to drive their own career path.
• Mentorship. Offer a structured mentorship program. Our new employees are assigned a career coach and a mentor who guides and advocates for their career development. This creates engagement and builds relationships across the organization while providing valuable feedback to the employee.
• Training. Provide a variety of learning methods. We offer classroom learning, self-paced learning, online training, informal lunch-and-learns, and peer and leader mentoring. Any employee at any level can participate in available training opportunities.
• Outside opportunities. No employer can provide all the professional development opportunities employees need. Investing in outside opportunities is essential; for example, helping employees obtain industry certifications and additional education. We also support employee involvement in professional organizations.
• Volunteering. Encourage employees to volunteer and provide them with opportunities to engage in pro bono work. That helps them practice technical and leadership skills while bonding with colleagues and making a positive impact where they live. Many of our consultants also serve on the boards of local nonprofits, where they gain leadership experience.
This approach has helped us achieve a turnover rate well below the industry average. Although retention rates are great indicators of success, the key to retention lies not in metrics, but in engaging employees, providing them with a clear career path, and building them into leaders. Thoughtful investment in a wide range of professional development opportunities supports business growth and helps keep top talent in the region.
On Wednesday, March 22nd, the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia’s Education & Talent Action Team will bring together young professionals and employers to engage in a facilitated discussion designed to provide real-time feedback to help us better understand how we should be thinking about the future of professional development and work. This invitation-only meeting will build upon the Chamber’s recent survey of the region’s young professionals, Cultivating the Next Generation of Leaders in Greater Philadelphia.