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Is measuring job competencies the key to employee retention?

Recruitment | 6 Min Read

Is measuring job competencies the key to employee retention?


Identifying and retaining top talent sits at the core of any human resource (HR) team’s priorities. This is because businesses with engaged and loyal long-term employees have high productivity and yield successful outcomes. However, retaining these high-quality teams is a collective effort involving employee motivation, skill development, and satisfaction.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 4.25 million employees left their existing job roles in 2022. This number was a huge increase from the year before, when 3.3 million people were stated to have quit.

Measuring job competencies helps understand employees’ behaviors, skills, motivators, and abilities that define their performance in the workplace. HR teams gain relevant information to evaluate every employee’s career paths and development areas, which allows using employees’ natural strengths and potential precisely. These efforts yield high employee retention in the future.


How can measuring job competencies help in improving employee retention

Measuring employees’ job competencies helps understand existing skills and knowledge according to the job profile. Based on this information, L&D managers can create personalized development plans to improve employee performance. Hence, ensuring long-term employee satisfaction, leading to future collaboration with the company.




Dedicated employee development plans

According to a Tiny Pulse report, around 54% of workers are unsure about their career progress and promotion.

Growth opportunities and career development initiatives are key to employee motivation and retention. Employees must know their individualized career path to stay ambitious for a job role. Offering this assurance helps HR managers improve retention and allow employees to grow with the company.

A dedicated, individualized employee development plan has the following features:

  • This plan is not just dedicated to senior-level professionals or top talent. Every employee needs a certain type of development, and an individualized plan should be created for every workforce category.
  • A dedicated development plan is not generic and common for every employee in the organization. Depending on competency gaps, employee growth perspectives, and organizational objectives, every professional should have a personalized development plan.
  • Ideally, a development plan builds on the weaknesses and strengths of every employee. For this reason, job competency measurement is used to understand employees’ natural abilities, motivation, and behavior.

Understanding employees’ competencies and creating a plan to fill these gaps helps decide on learning initiatives, coaching, mentoring, exposure, and job rotation opportunities.


Transparent career paths


Despite a strong correlation between employee career paths and retention, career paths have become fragmented and uncertain. Employees expect a high level of career control, flexibility, and transparency. They need to envision their future opportunities with a company to move forward. Without this, employees experience a growth plateau, which becomes the motivation to find new job roles.

Therefore, it is imperative for businesses to conduct a competency-based job analysis to tap into employees’ dreams, likes, and aspirations. It helps gauge employees’ strengths and explore existing hidden potential within the company. This latent talent can be enriched through a series of training to fulfill business priorities.

Managing and measuring the work competencies of employees help visualize their aspirations and future vision. It allows knowing engagement touchpoints and employees’ potential, which helps draw the pathway for lateral and vertical internal movement.


Job role fitment and performance


When hiring new employees or rearranging existing staff, HR managers should focus on role fitment and employee performance.

Measuring competencies at an early stage in hiring helps pair the right employees with the current job. This can be better achieved if HR managers create a competency-based job description, which helps receive relevant applicants. For these applications, businesses can use appropriate assessments that help shortlist candidates based on job competencies.

Other than hiring, HR teams need to focus on the job competencies of existing employees. It is possible that at the time of hiring, the right employee was hired for a job role. However, job competencies for certain roles evolve over time, and employee expectations change. Combining these two, an overall rearrangement may be required to ensure employee motivation and satisfaction.

Regularly measuring employees’ job competencies and role fitment helps eliminate chances of poor performance and high turnover. Competency-based job analysis allows employees to understand their strengths and determine their future growth.

These employees are eventually happier in the organization. Therefore, they are more likely to stay for the long term.


How employers can use job competencies for employee retention

  • Use the job competency framework to define job roles that are research-oriented and rigorously evaluated according to industry standards.
  • Create an objective and standardized method to measure the competencies of employees. It will help validate job role requirements without challenges.
  • Utilize appropriate technology to visualize job competencies for different job roles. This will help gauge talent retention challenges and eliminate them early. For example, the 360-Degree Feedback Tool by Mercer | Mettl helps businesses understand employees’ performance from peers’ and managers’ point-of-views. The follow-up reports help find hidden signs of retention challenges.
  • Draw a job competency fit map for the employee lifecycle, which includes the journey from onboarding to succession planning. This is useful when hiring employees. Based on employees’ job competencies, the company can manage their performance, ensure development, and plan for succession in the future.
  • Communicate with staff to measure job competencies, as it is easier when managers are transparent with employees and are able to communicate with them to understand their motivators and aspirations.


How to measure employees’ competencies

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The 360-Degree Feedback Tool

Mercer | Mettl’s 360-Degree Feedback Tool helps gather valuable insights related to employees. This involves a holistic view of employees’ performance from peers, clients, managers, and other colleagues.

The one-click data download offers a detailed account of competencies, open-ended employee feedback, and a personalized learning plan. HR managers can aptly leverage this tool to understand employees’ strengths, areas of improvement, blind spots, and weaknesses.

One-to-one meetings

One-to-one meetings provide a supportive and comfortable method to identify employees’ competencies. Managers can communicate with team members to understand their challenges, highlight achievements, and gain insights into hidden potential.

One-on-one conversations also help highlight competencies and challenges that employees may hesitate to reveal.

Evaluation of key performance indicators

Businesses must identify key performance indicators (KPI) for every employee category. These KPIs should be able to demonstrate success and failure factors with logical explanations. This would allow HR managers to deeply understand competency distribution within the organization and rearrange where necessary.



Measuring employees’ job competencies helps reduce turnover and improve employee morale. Hiring employees based on job competencies creates a motivated and engaged workforce. This workforce is more likely to stay encouraged for future opportunities and challenges.

Utilize the above tips and understand the right methods to implement job competencies for improved retention.


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Originally published April 24 2023, Updated April 24 2023

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About This Topic

Employee engagement is a process by which companies undertake specific activities to interact with employees and engage them. The activities include employee development, team building, skills development, trainings etc.

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