From the Desk of the Training Director: The Talent War

The Talent War is in full swing. Coined over 20 years ago, the “war for talent” has been discussed in books and articles (one of my favorite is Jim Clifton’s The Coming Jobs War), been the focus of corporate business planning meetings, and has been known to keep a CEO or two up at night. While the national unemployment rate rose slightly in June (up 0.2% to 4.0%), most employers still report the challenge of finding qualified candidates to fill the jobs they have available. Some estimates state that by 2020, 95 million workers could lack the skills needed for employment.  Holding on to the talent you have will be a crucial component of any successful organization.

While the puzzle of employee retention is a complex one, fostering a development-focused culture will be a corner-stone strategy for forward-thinking employers.  It’s well documented the availability of development and leadership opportunities are valued employee reward and retention tools. So, if the talent isn’t available on the outside, you better be growing it on the inside.

What does it really mean to create a development-focused culture? Below are some topics to consider and discuss in your own organizations:

Philosophy: What philosophy does your organization hold (and practice) about employee development? Are training and development efforts an expense or an investment? Do objections to funding development efforts revolve around “But what if people leave afterward?” (Side question:  So it’s better that undeveloped people stay?). While many of us say “Our employees are our most valuable asset,” what are you doing to ensure that your assets are appreciating, not depreciating, in value?

Opportunities: Creating a development-focused culture is more than a training program or two. True development-focused cultures work to find a wide range of developmental opportunities across all levels of the organization. A well-rounded employee development strategy includes not only training, but coaching and on-the-job application opportunities as well. Challenge projects, cross-training, job shadowing, mentoring, 360s, high-feedback cultures, and support in career planning are all elements of development. What are you doing to explore and create a variety of opportunities for development in your organization?

Integration: Development does not live in a vacuum. How integrated are your organization’s vision/mission/values, selection process, performance management philosophy, training and development programming, and reward systems? Do they send and support common messages or do they frequently find themselves at cross-purposes? Is the training department teaching the same things managers are evaluating in their performance appraisals? The more integrated your variety of systems and approach, the more your training and development offerings act as a retention tool.

Need more? Consider these upcoming opportunities across our different offices and online delivery: