Don’t look now, but it’s a seller’s market for labor out there.

After several recessionary and post-recessionary years when employees sat tight in their jobs, an expanding economy has got them feeling frisky and likely to look for greener pastures, according to a recent survey by the consulting firm Deloitte.

And in the face of this trend, executives plan to step up training as a priority. Relevant training, as you’ve no doubt heard before, is one effective way to motivate employees to stick with you — at least for a while.

Building competitive ability
The Deloitte survey looked at what the firm called mid-market companies — those with yearly sales of between $50 million and $1 billion. Some 525 senior executives were asked about their views and plans for becoming more competitive.

Here’s what Deloitte found:

  • Two-thirds of the executives said they had seen a rise in voluntary turnover, up sharply from 43% two years ago.
  • Two-thirds of the executives also said it was hard to find employees with the skills and education they needed — an obvious incentive for employers to avoid losing the capable employees they already have.
  • 52% of those surveyed said their chief investment in talent in the coming year would come in the form of training. That compared with 45% who said they would be increasing the size of their workforce and 32% who said they would be giving out raises.

A positive message
There is no perfect retention strategy, and we’d be disingenuous to suggest that training will keep all of your best people around forever.

But remember that you’re sending a positive message when you continuously train employees in relevant skills and techniques: that you’re willing to invest in their careers and future marketability. Bright, ambitious people are likely to value this investment and want more.

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