What’s been on mind this week?
Let’s face it: you could be offering the best products your market has ever seen, and you may even hold a good chunk of the market share, but you’re never going to keep that edge if you constantly need to refill your talent pipeline with new hires. Hiring is the most expensive, time-consuming, frustrating, and productivity-busting route to success you could possibly take. You know it. We know it. The facts show it:
Here’s the bottom line: one cost-effective, proven solution for many of today’s hiring and retention problems is for leaders to be much more aggressive about upskilling and reskilling employees. You can start with durable skills, which you can read more about by heading over to the GoCoach blog here.
Too many L&D leaders think that upskilling, reskilling, and offering programs to build soft skills should come later in the employee life cycle. There’s a mindset that has persisted until today: these programs are carrots to be dangled in front of employees so the employer can be seen to show a commitment to career development. Or, they’re offered as a reward for staying with the company, or only intended for top performers or career fast-trackers. Such a mindset is a mistake.
When learning starts on the employee’s first day on the job, it boosts engagement, reduces turnover, and better prepares your organization and employees to be resilient, adaptable, and continuously productive. Even more immediately, learning for new hires meets a critical need: giving all employees the tools to be engaged and successful. Consider that nearly half of the respondents to the Cengage survey mentioned above didn’t believe their education was worth what they paid. A whopping 1 in 3 didn’t believe their education helped them land their job.
A May 2021 article in Harvard Business Review (accurately titled “The U.S. Education System Isn’t Giving Students What Employers Need”) summed up the whole situation very well:
“There’s a direct disconnect between education and employability, where employers view universities and colleges as the gatekeepers of workforce talent, yet those same institutions aren’t prioritizing job skills and career readiness. This not only hurts employers, but also sets the average American worker up for failure before they’ve even begun their career, as new employees who have been hired based on their four-year educational background often lack the actual skills needed to perform in their role. To create change as an industry, we must provide greater credibility to alternate education paths that allow students to gain employable skills.”
As the research shows, smart employers benefit from maximizing the value of their employees’ degrees. One solution is to identify necessary skills, then embed the acquisition of those skills (as well as career coaching) directly into your L&D initiatives. Optimally, this will be delivered by a learning company that partners directly with universities and colleges to offer their alumni the kind of career coaching and skills development they didn’t get in the classroom. Directly linking skill-building and career coaching to an employee’s alma mater ensures greater learner engagement while bringing real-world applicability that complements what they learned in their coursework and delivers skills you need going forward.
It’s also critical to offer the widest possible range of on-demand coaching and courses. Don’t limit your learning platform to either soft or hard skills. Business leaders and team managers have learned the power of soft skills to successfully navigate the rapidly changing way we work and the nearly constant changes in organizational structures. It’s why they’re seeking job candidates who are, for example, skilled at problem-solving, being agile, attentive listening, and change management, regardless of their role or job title.
One last point: Just as students receive grades for their classroom acumen, you need to be able to measure the impact of your experiential learning programs and career coaching. You’ll need a platform that can provide you with company-wide analytics on skill gaps, goal progress, and engagement. You’ll also want to be able to track the acquisition of newly targeted skills, measure employee interactions with content, and track changing levels of engagement with ongoing career support programs.
In short, you want a learning and development partner that can help you prepare all of your employees to thrive in the new world of work — everywhere in the organization and anywhere in the employee life cycle — for a more successful business.