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What Employees Want Companies To Teach Them

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:

  • The average cost of hiring an employee today is approximately $4,000. It takes, on average, 52 days. Plus, hiring ties up people across your entire organization – job sourcing, recruiting, hiring, onboarding, and training.


  • An increasing number of employees seek to work with companies that clearly prioritize career development and learning, and businesses are responding. JPMorgan Chase added another $350 million to its $250 million plan to upskill its workforce. Amazon is investing more than $700 in upskilling its employees. PwC is spending $3 billion to upskill all of its 275,000 employees over the next three to four years.


  • New hires need job skills that higher education hasn’t provided them. A recent Cengage survey of over 1,600 working Americans who graduated from a two-year/community or four-year year college/university in the past five years found that 21% felt their school didn’t give them the job skills they need, while 38% “occasionally” or “rarely” use the skills they learned at school.


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.

Where Should You Start? With Your New Hires 

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.”

So, What Are You Doing About This Situation? 

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.

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