As the economy regains strength, the turnover epidemic is experiencing an all-time high and experts predict the future holds an even greater global talent exodus. Unlike the workplace landscape of generations past, employee loyalty is contingent on day-to-day happenings. The average employee turnover rate is predicted to rise to 23.4 percent by 2018, according to This statistic represents 192 million separations and shows that the days of employee-company loyalty are waning.1 Among the industries hit with heavy turnover rates are retail and food service, where lackluster wages deter staying power. Turnover rates in the quick-service sector topped at 95 percent for hourly workers and approached 39 percent for management-level employees.2 While retail statistics show slightly better averages, the 67 percent turnover rate for full-time hourly store associates proves there's ample room for improvement.3 For employers' bottom-line, this translates into thousands of dollars wasted on recruiting efforts.

Realizing that loyalty breeds a history and culture of stability, businesses are seeking innovative ways to improve employee retention. With the understanding that keeping talent greatly reduces costly turnover rates by eliminating the time needed to recruit, interview, screen, and train new hires, companies are going back in time with employee incentives. Amid bottom-line breaking turnover rates, employers are beginning to see the value in expanding worker benefits. In lieu of financial perks, today's employees measure career security in terms of feeling invested in by the their bosses and their company.

With this in mind, what better reward than the promise of higher learning? More and more, continuing education and training are used as measures of long-term reciprocity. Here's how three companies are working to improve employee retention.

Retail for Good

Gap Inc. believes that work is more than a paycheck. They couldn't be more spot on. "Employers need to invest more generously in meeting their people's core needs: physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual. When employees feel better taken care of, they're freed, fueled, and inspired to take better care of their customers and clients."4 The company's "Do More Campaign" is dedicated to doing just that. By making a bold statement to increase the minimum wage of all employees across all brands and states, the company empowers employees to "do more" with their gains. According to Gap Inc., the average student debt upon graduation is $27,000. A raise from $7.25 to $10 will cover a typical monthly loan payment of $443.5 Combining increased wages with motivation for future endeavors, Gap Inc is taking every step to not only bring in talent but retain it.

Caffeinated Future

Coffee giant Starbucks knows it's not the beans that make the profits. Their biggest asset lies in their team of qualified baristas. To prove their loyalty to their partners (employees), the Starbucks College Plan offers all benefits-eligible partners an opportunity to earn full tuition reimbursement through Arizona State University's online program. The company's motivation springs from hard facts. "Nearly half of Americans who begin college today will not actually finish, largely due to skyrocketing costs and work/life balance. We know more than 70 percent of our U.S. partners are students or aspiring students. We want to help," says Starbucks. Proving this is a true investment in their talent, partners will have no commitment to remain at Starbucks past graduation.

Saved by the Bell

Taco Bell, that is. Reaching out to perhaps an underserved and underappreciated demographic, Taco Bell promotes the future of our youngest workers. As a committed employer of thousands of adolescent employees, the fast food chain is on a mission to inspire teenagers to graduate from high school and become caring, educated, and productive adults. According to the company, "When Taco Bell employees want to pursue their scholastic ambitions and improve their life skills, we want to help make that happen." To do so, Taco Bell founder Glen Bell created the Glen Bell Scholarship Program, which awards financial scholarships to eligible Taco Bell hourly employees. Thanks to their efforts, the fast food chain is helping to not only retain their talent but also improve the communities in which they reside.

For businesses big and small, company culture is quickly becoming a necessary facet to remain competitive in the marketplace. As a result, the right employee mix is of utmost importance to the future success of any company. To gain the best, companies need to increase their offerings by investing in employees' long-term well-being. By turning to education as a tool for retention, we can positively affect gains that are not only financial but beneficial to communities at-large.  

What do you think of these initiatives to help employee retention through employer-supported educational opportunities? Let me know on Twitter.



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