A new study provides additional evidence of the link between employee training and development programs and employee loyalty. John Baldoni, in the blog he writes for Fast Company magazine, summarizes some of the findings from 2007 Walker Loyalty Report for Loyalty in the Workplace. This report presents findings from an online survey of 2,950 full and part-time employees working in business, government, and non-profit organizations of 50 or more employees. The Walker study found that 36% of employees are likely to leave their organizations within the next two years. This is an increase from the 31% found in 2005 (However, given the margin of error, it is probably not a significant increase.)

Baldoni’s analysis emphasizes the importance that trust plays in building employee loyalty. He describes how leaders must earn the trust of employees by actually doing what they say they will do, by putting their teams above their own accomplishments, and by accepting responsibility when things go wrong. I couldn’t agree more. To this I would add the critical importance of encouraging and supporting the development of employees. Respondents to the Walker survey ranked “development opportunity” high on their lists of loyalty drivers. This is what I have found in my interviews with hundreds of employees over the past few years. No matter what level in the organization, when bosses give employees opportunities to develop competencies that will help them perform better in their current jobs or position them for a promotion, those employees feel better about themselves and better about the organization. The explicit message is: we want you to develop your capabilities for your future with us. The implicit message is: we care about you; you are important to us.