Nearly three quarters of HR directors are concerned about retaining staff when the economy starts to pick up, but only 41% have a clear strategy in place to account for top talent moving on to other jobs, according to a research study commissioned by Thales Training and Consultancy.

The integrated training services provider polled 100 HR directors across the UK to identify the findings which provide interesting reading for the HR industry. The study acknowledged three areas as critical to retaining staff: clear communication, more flexible working hours and investment in learning and development (L&D) courses.

When asked specifically about investment and commitment to L&D courses nearly 2/3 (61%) of respondents highlighted that their organisation is placing a greater emphasis on learning programmes as a way of keeping top talent, and a staggering 85% of those asked stated that investment in L&D influences attracting and retaining new staff. Others complained that economic recovery could lead to staff moving on to competitors (80%) and with recruitment costs as a premium this highlighted a worrying trend.

“These figures clearly show that in the current economic climate learning and development has become a powerful tool to retain and attract top talent,” comments Rachel Kay, Business Development Director, Thales Training & Consultancy. She continues, “The study also revealed that despite the clear call for action, nearly half of respondents claimed that L&D investment is not supported at board level. In times of economic uncertainty it comes as no surprise that budgets will be squeezed and finance diverted to other parts of the business, but these findings should drive the industry into ensuring L&D is fully supported at all levels. After all, 71% of HR Directors asked believe it is fundamental to business success.”

Despite financial barriers it is clear that the industry takes the role of selecting an L&D provider seriously. Business expectations were high with 77% demanding that the training service provider has a good grasp of their business goals and objectives. Being able to offer a bespoke service and show a clear ROI were reaffirmed as being important by 55 % and 60% of respondents respectively.