Project management is a highly competitive field, and experienced, skilled project management professionals are in demand in industries across the spectrum. Retaining key employees continues to be a challenge, with organizations continually looking for innovative and compelling ways to keep high-performing PMP®s on board.

One concept that’s often overlooked, even in progressive Project Teams, is the role project management training plays in employee retention. As the project management field continues to expand and diversify, it’s no longer enough to offer workers new opportunities for growth and career advancement. Top-level PMP®s expect more for their efforts, and a thoughtful, forward-focused training program can be a compelling benefit.

A well-crafted training initiative contributes to employee retention objectives in several ways. One of the more obvious and traditional concepts is that a wider variety of responsibilities are open to workers when they broaden their skills. On a more intangible level, workers also want to feel valued. They’re investing a portion of themselves every day in the organization, and they prefer to work for an organization that invests in them in return. Along with compensation and general working conditions, these are the kinds of benefits PMP®s look for when weighing their employment options.

The details of what constitutes engaging training will vary by organization, but Project Teams can use the following tips to maximize the hiring and retention advantages of their particular program.

Training can’t be an afterthought or an add-on. Programs that focus only on baseline skills, that don’t encompass the latest thought leadership on methodologies and best practices, or that only target junior-level team members send the message that the organization doesn’t truly believe in the value of solid project management training. The skill sets needed to successfully execute projects continue to expand. Soft skills, such as leadership and communication, also have greater importance as Project Teams increasingly rely on diverse, distributed teams. Training curriculums must keep pace, evolving to meet emerging needs.

Don’t limit training to what your group already knows. Niche skills and insight into best practices are sometimes better found outside the organization. Internal team members are often fantastic repositories of knowledge, but if they’re the only ones contributing to the training program then PMP®s aren’t getting the comprehensive education they need and expect. An inside-only program also has the potential to limit the range of skills team members are able to develop. Outside experts are sometimes the best resource for specialized or advanced training, and an organization that recognizes the value of external trainers will set the standard for ongoing education.

Don’t overlook technology training. New tools, software platforms, even mobile applications are often sizeable investments. PMP®s want to get the most out of them and training is frequently the best way to make that happen. Maximizing efficiencies is just the tip of the iceberg, though. The latest crop of technology offerings give project teams the power to conduct far more in-depth benchmarking exercises, to produce more granular cost projections, to leverage more comprehensive historical data, and to better allocate finite resources. An organization that takes technology seriously will also give it the attention it deserves when it comes to training.

Make time for training. Too many organizations continue to haphazardly cram training between other duties, shortchanging the entire team in the process. PMP®s are often already losing time at the office and at home because of travel schedules and other demands. A company that exacerbates that issue by not carving out sufficient time for training lowers worker satisfaction and compromises the ability to retain key employees. Training is an important activity. Organizations must make it a priority and put real action behind that mission.