For most people, the term “back to school” brings to mind the end of summer or shopping for supplies.
It’s also an excellent time for companies to evaluate their learning and development offerings. A comprehensive workforce development program where employees understand opportunities within the organization and how to gain the education and skills necessary to succeed creates an enthusiastic workforce who will stay and compete more effectively against the competition.
Implementing strategies that cultivate and retain workers will become increasingly more important as the United States continues to experience a very real talent shortage. According to Bersin’s 2013 report, “Building a Smarter Workforce,”70 percent of companies lack the skill required to compete.
At the same time, a 2014 LinkedIn survey found 25 percent of all employees are actively searching for new jobs, which is an expensive proposition for employers. According to a Center for American Progress study, the average turnover cost is about 20 percent of an employee’s salary, excluding executive and other senior positions. Organizations that take the time to cultivate their workforce and offer employees resources to help them grow within the organization will benefit tremendously from a stable workforce and enjoy a competitive advantage in the marketplace.
For many organizations, however, it can be difficult to focus on growth tactics and take the time needed to develop strategies that drive their entry, midlevel and high-potential employees' careers. Two significant tools are emerging that can help develop and guide employees to new career opportunities within the organization, promoting retention, engagement and developing a future-ready workforce aligned with its talent needs.
For example, interactive career maps and the use of external career and development advising can take the pressure off managers, providing a suite of direct resources that put employees in the driver’s seat as they evaluates future career options within the organization. Employees also will have access to information about the education or training requirements they will need to qualify for those positions.
Interactive career maps also help employers align talent management initiatives with their corporate goals. These platforms help employers uncover internal career paths, link them to critical positions and connect them with the skills and education that the company needs. Special features like job-matching tools show employees how their skills transfer from one part of the company to another. In some cases, career maps even allow employees to create online action plans that outline the learning and experiences needed to reach their goals.
Career and development advising gives employees a confidential place to candidly discuss their short and long-term career goals. With the weak talent pipelines many companies are experiencing, it’s time to expand career support beyond high-potential employees. Advisers work with entry and midlevel employees to ensure their education and training choices are made with complete knowledge of the options available and the company’s business needs. Advising also helps increase the effectiveness of a company’s tuition assistance benefits by helping employees take the most efficient and cost effective path to get the learning they need for career mobility.
When career maps are paired with advising, employees can actualize their future with the company. They receive the tools and support they need to be successful, while organizations can use interactive career maps and advising tools to start a conversation with workers about their future needs.
Investing in current employees builds morale and engagement and can help protect organizations from the looming worker shortage. Tools like career maps and advising help to align and employer’s skill needs with an educated workforce. It creates an environment where employees have the chance for job mobility and self-development, which can create a more productive workforce. This year, envision a world where it’s always back-to-school time for your workforce.