The US is experiencing historically low unemployment numbers. Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute 2018 Skills Gap Study, found that 2.4 million jobs will likely go unfilled over the next decade and that over the next decade more than $2.5 trillion in manufacturing GDP is in jeopardy. Furthermore, more than 90% of CHROs believe that competition for critical talent will only get more competitive over the next twelve months.
I could go on: however, the point is talent development is now a strategic imperative. Organizations, if they are to succeed, must establish a new approach to employee recruitment, development and retention. While there is nothing new about this sentiment, what is perhaps novel is that ownership for this objective will now fall to HR. That although in many ways executives and senior leadership may prioritize and drive the talent development strategy, the task of executing on such planning belongs to HR.
Facing such a behemoth task HR must consider these five critical areas to deliver on this target.
1. Company Culture
What may surprise some is that an employee’s rating of “culture and values” is 4.9 times more predictive of a company recommendation than salary and benefits. Companies who have a clear vision for their culture and who work strategically to foster it produce happy employees who want to share their experience. Identity is a powerful thing. A clear sense of company culture allows an organization to say “this is who we are,” and bolsters loyalty and contentment amongst employees. It is also imperative for attracting new employees. As my blog, Why Employer Branding is Just as Important as the Company Brand, demonstrates, candidates are increasingly researching a company before they apply for a job. It is also worth noting that from a potential employee’s perspective, an essential part of an organization’s culture is what learning and development opportunities exist. In fact, 94% of employees surveyed said they would stay at a company longer if it invests in their careers.
“It’s not a nicety; it’s almost a business imperative,” said Bill Pelster, a principal at professional services firm Deloitte Consulting LLP, of the importance of reskilling workers. Employees want professional development and organizations need a pool of talent from which to draw the rapidly emerging skillsets necessary to succeed in the modern economy. It’s a win-win. Plus, developing internal talent costs one-sixth the price of hiring an external candidate, and they gain the same skills as an external new hire in 9 to 12 months.
Focusing on upskilling and reskilling enables organizations to address the skills shortage with precision. Given the pace of change with AI, automation and digital transformation, the shelf life of skills has shortened considerably, placing enormous pressure on organizations to bridge the widening skills gap. Businesses must be ready to invest in L&D with a proactive approach to address this growing problem. The right solutions offer a comprehensive view of the people and their skills which make up the workforce, allowing businesses to close skills gaps, map succession plans and prepare for the coming waves of digital transformation.
3. Diversity & Inclusion (D&I)
In Diversity in the Workplace: Good for People, Good for Business we addressed the issue of the business case for changing the demographics of the workplace to reflect the changing demographics of our community, our industry and our world. While homogenous teams were once thought to be easier to manage, the similarities amongst members created biased patterns of problem-solving and often led to groupthink. Today organizations are diversifying to advance company culture and spur innovation. Recruitment policies must align with D&I efforts. Organizations need to ensure they are taking measures to broaden the talent pool.
4. Consumer-Grade Technology
Most leading HR departments are already utilizing technology to redefine the employee experience particularly as it regards L&D opportunities. However, introducing online learning capabilities is not sufficient. Employees expect the simplicity they’ve grown accustomed to from today’s app-centric consumer solutions with their intuitive user experience. Therefore, it is essential that any learning platform selected must be visually appealing, intuitive and easy to use. However, it’s not just about aesthetics. When choosing a learning management system, HR must ensure it offers sophisticated data collection and analytics that give HR leaders and L&D professionals the ability to:
- Improve their grasp on employee engagement
- More accurately perceive company culture
- Register workforce skills and plan for talent advancements & succession
- Understand the real impact of learning on business outcomes.
5. Employee Retention
Attracting new talent is just one piece of the puzzle. Another piece is making sure employees stay. Onboarding, or rather effective onboarding, plays a critical role in ensuring new hires do not leave within the first year. It’s also the ideal opportunity to introduce the new employee to the culture, value and expectations of the organization and sets the stage for learning and career growth for each employee. I believe onboarding is most successful when it is personalized to provide employees with the mentoring, goal setting and resources they need to be successful in their day-to-day role. In a move, I highly recommend, some organizations are taking onboarding a step further and continuing to deliver guidance and support as employees move from one position to the next.
I also believe forward-looking companies are overhauling how an employee receives performance reviews. Most have abandoned the traditional annual performance review system and replaced it with more frequent and regular interaction between the manager and employees. Included in these “reviews” are topics such as timely reviews, development and goal setting objectives, further contributing towards the value and giving the employee a sense of purpose.
There is no better time than the present to prioritize your organization’s talent development strategy. Want to learn more about how to accomplish this objective? Read our newest whitepaper, Talent Agility in an Emerging Workforce, by Morne Swart, SumTotal’s VP of Global Product Strategy and Transformational Leader.