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How learning and development can help reduce employee turnover

By Jack Campbell | |6 minute read
How learning and development can help reduce employee turnover

Putting time and effort into the learning and development of employees can help reduce employee turnover, according to Mimma Mason, cognitive scientist at Pearson.

“Learning is about understanding that you have a goal you want to get to, and you want to get there by the most engaged way that you can. Giving people the opportunity to choose it for themselves but giving them responsibility as well to report back on it,” explained Ms Mason.

“Offer opportunities to learn. I know that flexibility was the new currency for a while, but I think everyone's doing that now. You have to be flexible or you won't recruit anyone at the moment, but offering an opportunity to learn, I think is the most exciting new currency.”


Providing learning opportunities for staff will not only improve their skillset but will let them know that you care about their development and could instil loyalty into your employees.

“It makes an enormous difference to productivity, but it's also an enormous difference to the individual person and how they feel about the job. They're more likely to value that investment in them as people. Even though they can take that away somewhere else, they're more likely to stay loyal to the company that invested in them,” Ms Mason said.

“I think if you've got a development budget, and any smart organisation will these days, I'd spend more on development than I would on recruitment. I would [give] opportunities to learn, mentoring programs. [Provide] those opportunities, highlight those opportunities and prioritise them.”

Discussing what learning opportunities you should provide, Ms Mason said: “You've got to ask them. You shouldn't just assume that you know what it is. Pearson actually has a pretty cool thing because we're a learning company. We give everyone a learning day and you get to choose; you get a day that you get to choose what you want to learn, and it can be completely different.

“Our last CEO learned to be a barista for a day.”

She added: “It makes you feel good about yourself, it improves your skills, and yes, if it's business related, that's even better again. The business will benefit from it one way or another, even if it's less direct.”

Learning and development is just one of many ways to assist in the retention and attraction of staff. Ms Mason notes that turnover should be a consideration from the beginning and businesses should “pick the right people in the first place and avoid the problem.”

“Motivation matters… It's those human skills that you're looking for more than the qualifications…You're looking for the right person who's motivated to do the job in the first place, because that makes everything else a whole lot easier,” she said.

Ms Mason says that employee wellbeing is the next step towards retaining talent. Ensuring a workplace is healthy and values their workers will make people want to stay.

“Once you've got the right people, look after their wellbeing… it's managing the people problems. The number one reason people leave their work is usually because of other people,” said Ms Mason.

[Employees leave because of] “a bad manager. Or the people around them. It's a bad environment. So, have programs in place that check the pulse of the environment, that there are great tools around to measure that sort of stuff and that there are good policies in place to make sure that the culture and behaviour and values are being explicitly stated. Good processes in place for how to communicate when something does go wrong, so that you have a voice and you at least feel empowered to do something about it,” explained Ms Mason.

The transcript of this podcast episode, when quoted above, was slightly edited for publishing purposes. The full conversation with Mimma Mason is below.




Turnover in human resources refers to the process of replacing an employee with a new hire. Termination, retirement, death, interagency transfers, and resignations are just a few examples of how organisations and workers may part ways.

Jack Campbell

Jack Campbell

Jack is the editor at HR Leader.