How the Pandemic Changed Our Perspective on Employee Engagement
Six Steps to Beat the Talent Shortage with L&D
First, we’d like to say this: every employee deserves to be a part of your learning and development strategy.
The “identifying talent” process is often followed by the above-mentioned issues of manager’s perception. Being guided by “intuition”, a company may miss the opportunity of building a diverse team and getting creative ideas from people with different experiences which often results in innovativeness and higher profits.
Your talent development strategy should be employee-centric, as well as your management style.
To understand why this approach is a necessity, read the previous article from our Dealing with talent shortage series.
1. Share your vision and strategy with your employees
Every strategic decision you make in a business is a step towards your goals, which you clearly defined. Employees are the same: they need to know why they should participate in your training program. The good news is that 94% of employees would appreciate if a company invested in their career, and actually, most see themselves as lifetime learners; you just have to explain the benefits of L&D.
Tell your employees about an importance of learning in terms of their career: explain how it can help them to gain new knowledge, improve their expertise, get better jobs in the future, etc. Then, ensure that they can align their personal goals with your strategy—that is the only case your in-house talent development can be effective in.
The above-mentioned statistics also provide more insights into the importance of L&D for companies: if so many people want to learn and grow, then learning is definitely a solution for engagement and retention.
2. Communicate with employees constantly and be honest
Communication is key to an understanding and productive working relationships. It also makes developing in-house talent easier. Communication is the source of employees’ feedback about the learning process. Despite the fact that employees’ feedback-seeking behavior isn’t directly connected to performance, feedback is important for self-esteem, goal orientation, high-quality working relationships, and it’s vital for managing the L&D strategy effectively.
Make sure you and your managers listen to their employees carefully and run surveys or gather feedback in any other “mobile” way through the chosen training platform. An open conversation, whether through an app or a “water cooler talk”, will also help you to find employees’ little talents to be developed, things that they’re doing well without effort, and use them in the working process.
Sadly, only half of the workers believe that their employer is upfront with them, and one in 4 don’t trust their employers. In order to gain honest, direct feedback you have to establish trust within an enterprise. How to do that? Encourage diverse opinions and be open yourself.
You should also use communication to track possible sources of anxiety as it’s badly influencing the learning process.
3. Use continuous performance-based training
Performance-based training is a kind of training that uses individual’s performance data to give employees relevant and personalized tasks to fix any issues they encounter at work. PBT focuses on what employees need to know and practice in order to finish a task or bridge the skills gap, not what they need to know in general.
For instance, if a barista wants to learn how to make an espresso on a new fancy coffee machine, she doesn’t need to read through the whole coffee machine manual. She just needs a guide on how to make a cup of espresso.
The PBT platform uses operational and employee performance data to offer personalized learning activities. The PBT helps employees to get used to the concept of continuous learning at work: tasks are very small, practical, and can be completed quickly; learning material is well-structured and compact; training evaluation is fast. Employees are willing to complete each task and perceive learning seriously because it helps them to resolve their current job challenges.
4. Let your employees control and organize their training
Control over the learning process is vital for comfortable education. Your training platform should be flexible in terms of learning styles and types of content, as well as easily accessible anywhere at any time.
Why does control matter? When we’re talking about investing in human capital, we mean that we don’t take time from employees, we’re giving it to them (with knowledge, useful advice, etc.). Training shouldn’t interrupt their workflow, it must fit into it, become an essential part of it.
Control over knowledge also means that an employee can select the needed area of knowledge and skills to focus on, which is much more effective. If you choose something to learn and start to learn it, it’s two processes: selection and memorization. If knowledge is “given” to you—as it happens in mandatory training or in schools—it’s only one process: memorization. It’s common, but it’s ineffective and doesn’t work for tоо long.
5. Empower your employees
If people have control over their learning and over the decision-making process that stands behind it, they feel empowered. Empowering leadership is especially effective for newcomers or for people in new positions with new responsibilities. Empowerment makes people feel that they can change, improve something in their work, take the initiative. It’s a great driving force for creativity and innovative ideas.
In-house talent development and the training associated with it helps people to gain new skills or improve old ones. With empowerment and engagement, these processes can encourage employees to improve their career and, in such way, assist you in dealing with talent shortages.
Note that you can’t tell employees “You can make important decisions now,” (For instance, you gave them an opportunity to create a sales presentation for a new client by themselves) and then suddenly take back your words. That’s not empowering, that’s second-guessing, which affects your colleagues greatly—never do this unless it’s evidently needed.
You can’t just “make” people empowered; you have to grant them autonomy, listen to their initiatives, and they will empower themselves. Also, don’t wait for empowerment to have a positive influence on performance.
Looking for its effects, notice the rise of accountability, innovativeness, loyalty, and interest in the companies’ activities and a problem-solving mindset.
6. Ensure your training program covers leadership development
The aforementioned traits are consistent with leaders’ behavior. As Manhood’s research shows, a leadership position is hard to find talent for.
To develop in-house leaders, your training program should contain different levels of complexity, and every activity, whether it be marketing training or an electrician apprenticeship simulation, should be provided with a “senior” segment that people can use to develop soft skills in relation to a company’s corporate culture.
You have to notice people who take the “leadership training” segment and connect them with managers and executives—you can do this through an analytics module of a training platform—so that they can ask questions and acknowledge the existing leadership competencies and openness. You will, once again, gain feedback, and they’ll be able to establish communication and exchange experiences.
Challenges in developing in-house talent
As for any new initiatives, in-house talent development is followed by few challenges that you’ll probably face during different stages of implementing a strategy.
Hardships in proving ROI of training initiatives
Companies invest in training, yet they don’t see results.
That’s why, while choosing a training platform, you have to choose one that connects learning to work; and, relating to the importance of in-house development, focus executives’ attention on the fact that this process increases employees’ satisfaction, loyalty to the company, and improves overall productivity.
Issues with learning systems
The effectiveness of learning greatly depends on the quality of the system or a platform you’ve chosen. The platform should be user-friendly and intuitively understandable. When implementing it, ensure a smooth and soft transition to the new software for every user.
Your training must also use data to give employees personalized, relevant tasks and collect their feedback.
Without these factors, especially in a big corporation where you don’t have enough mentors to constantly monitor employees’ performance, there’ll be difficulties.
Stressful work environment
It’s common for people with power to abuse those without it; ensure that your managers and mentors don’t do this. Anxiety reduces people’s ability to learn, and abuse makes people anxious.
The onboarding process, new responsibilities, and deadlines also tend to be overwhelming, but employees get accustomed to these sooner or later. Managers and regular workers who cut people initiatives and/or give unfair negative feedback, harassing or bullying them, should be excluded from this process until they rethink their behavior or are fired.
To prevent such behavior from the start, your leadership training should take this into consideration.
Make in-house talent development part of the corporate culture
Talent shortages occur for different reasons, one of which being that companies don’t want to hire people with no experience and teach them how to do something. They just wait for a “ready-to-work” specialist to walk into their corporation and start working with no obstacles.
There is no such worker.
The decision to establish an in-house development program requires a company to be open-minded and aware about the situation of their market.
For instance, a lack of skilled workers in the construction industry occurs due to a) the growing construction and renovation market, and b) a great level of retirement of senior specialists.
As electricians, plumbers and welders have to learn new skills from apprenticeship, there is no way they can gain the necessary skills from scratch, so if your HR department doesn’t give people without a working experience a chance—needed skill traders position will never be filled: soon baby boomers will leave the industry for good and millennials will have to be taught from scratch.
To be truly effective, in-house talent development should be acknowledged and implemented starting from recruiting and hiring process.
For that, HR and L&D department should collaborate and establish a learning culture which will support training activities, targeting new outcomes in employees’ career and new results for businesses.
Manhood’s experts conclude, “Employability depends less on what you already know and more on how you can learn, apply, and adopt”—this is important in beating the talent shortage.
You have to constantly learn new skills and develop your own talent, expand your competency, and stay open to new trends and technologies.
Your L&D strategy should be sensitive to employees’ behaviors and preferences as well as to innovations in training, in HR, and in the industry your company works in.
Soon, we’ll have the soft skills development science-based series here: to get started, read our installment on designing neuroscience-based learning experiences. To know more about the specifics of in-house talent development for your industry and get updates on other practical insights for L&D and HR, subscribe to the Rallyware blog.
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