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4 Steps To A Recession-Proof Workforce

This article was first published and featured on, March 1, 2019 , Kristy McCann Flynn

Today’s organizations face a complex challenge: How do keep the talent we have, and how do we get the skills needed to accomplish our goals? The simple answer is lifelong learning and education, which will recession-proof your organization. Stop throwing out talent, which does nothing but waste money and cause additional costs to culture, engagement and rehiring. Instead, create a culture of learning where you are constantly honing the skills of your talent by upskilling them in their subject areas and beyond.

Where do you start with this “BHAG goal”? For starters, recognize that it is actually not a BHAG goal but a cost-friendly way to produce happier and more empowered employees. Creating education for everyone in your organization needs to be your biggest goal. If you are not educating your talent, then you are not planning for the future of work. Here are three steps to begin building this journey for your organizations of people.

1. Assess Your Organization.

There are so many options to choose from when it comes to employee development. Begin with an assessment of where your organization is now and where it needs to be five years from now. Do you have the talent to accomplish your goals? You have lots of people who already work for you! Now, you just need to invest in them to hone their skills and prepare for the future.

2. Start Shopping.

When I was an HR professional, I only engaged with training companies when they met what I call the “FFAST” criteria: feasibility, flexibility, accessibility, scalability and time. For a high output/low effort goal (which is what we want all our goals to be), it needs to be easy. You want an engagement that is easy to fit in to your overwhelmed lifestyle – that is high output and low effort. It also needs to be flexible enough to grow with your organization’s many twists and turns. Second, the solution needs to be accessible to all employees at their fingertips. On-demand, personalized learning is key for success.

“You want an engagement that is easy to fit in to your overwhelmed lifestyle – that is high output and low effort.” 


The solution also needs to scale. Is learning resulting in the necessary output? I look at scalability not as scaling within a company but scaling with an employee. Do the latter first, and scaling within the company will become easier over the long term.

Finally, time is the thing that everyone wants but no one has. Include the time to educate employees on all company goals and plans. You cannot achieve company goals without a sharp, always-learning employee culture. We spend a ton of time hiring people, when we could be investing in the people we already have. Invest now, and save later – not just money but time!

3. Find Subject Matter Experts.

Now that you have met the FFAST criteria, ensure that the provider has subject matter experts. First, find out how it has helped other companies – ask for statistics, facts and testimonials. Second, does the provider employ subject matter experts in the science of learning? Subject matter experts are the people who have been in the trenches – educating or coaching employees, managing HR, or managing successful “people companies.” (A people company is a company that cares about people and is profitable because people come first). Check the vendor’s employer ratings and reviews on websites like Glassdoor. If it is doing a terrible job with its people, how is it going to help yours? Lastly, consider how the company will grow with you. It cannot provide a Band-Aid solution; it needs to be a lifelong solution that hits on the FFAST criteria to continuously upskill your talent anytime, anywhere.

4. Finally, Commit.

Commit to people, commit to each other, commit to always learning, commit to goals. Double down now on your talent. Educate them for your future. “Always learning” equals “always thriving.” You cannot serve your customers if you cannot serve your people. Your people are the path to customers and profit. Instead of replacing them, invest in them.

The best way to enhance your customer lifetime value is to advance your employee lifetime value. Employees’ value proposition is development, so develop them, listen to them and empower them with education. Millennials will be the majority of the workforce next year, and they have said it loud and clear: “Develop me, and I will develop you.” Your employees will be there with you through it all; just educate them to help you win.

“The best way to enhance your customer lifetime value is to advance your employee lifetime value.”