A newstudy reveals that nearly three quarters of senior management are concerned about retaining staff when the economy starts to pick up, but less than half (41%) have a strategy in place for what happens if their leading talent move onto other jobs. The study acknowledged three areas as critical to retaining staff: clear communication, more flexible working hours and investment in learning and development (L and D) courses. When asked specifically about investment and commitment to L and D courses 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 and 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 ofThales Training and Consultancy who commissioned the study. "The study also revealed that despite the clear call for action, nearly half of respondents claimed that L and 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 and D is fully supported at all levels. After all, 71% of HR Directors asked believe it is fundamental to business success."