A mental shift in ‘professional curiosity’ that employers face in Grand Resignation


As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to strain companies’ hiring and recruiting efforts, some HR directors and executives say the secret to outperforming industry competitors lies in investing in the employee development and retraining.

Heidi Brooks, a professor at the Yale School of Management, told CNBC’s Executive Workforce Council summit in November that companies should set learning as a goal to recruit and retain talent.

“The orientation has made a lot of companies think, ‘You can work here.’ Now the change is more in the direction of “We can have employees”. It’s a pretty big shift in perspective for many executives and managers, “Brooks recently told CNBC.” Especially in some of the elite companies that people really aspire to be a part of. It’s a bit of a shock to them to have to change perspective and be in recruiting and retention mode as a basic continuing prospect. “

While skills improvement – teaching employees additional skills, such as technical abilities as well as interpersonal, organizational and self-management skills – is not a new concept for companies, investing in employees has attracted attention. growing as more and more companies use education to gain talent.

“There is a lot of concern about the Great Resignation, people are changing jobs and have a certain sense of agency in their work. The question arises as to how organizations and leaders can reasonably respond to this feeling of pressure.” Brooks said. “One way to respond is to provide educational opportunities through skill enhancement.”

Investments in education can not only attract new talent, but they can also help keep workers on the brink of burnout, which has been exacerbated by the pandemic.

“If businesses can invest in learning and growing people, their best people will stay longer, and part of that won’t exhaust their best people,” said Henry Albrecht, CEO of Limeade, a solutions company. company that offers tools to transform workspaces. and improve the well-being of employees.

Overall, employees want their needs recognized and their well-being to be a priority, Albrecht said. When companies invest in development, education and learning, it shows workers that they are valued.

“When people perceive that their organization cares about them, they are seven times more likely to want to stay three years or more, and they are four times less likely to burn out and feel they can’t participate.” , said Albrecht. , citing a 2019 Limeade Institute report that examined employee experiences.

Education is a competitive advantage

One of the concerns of many companies and HR managers when it comes to improving skills is whether the investment leads to greater employee retention.

Marcus Bryant, managing director of Vantage Custom Solutions, a human resource management and diversity training consultancy, said this concern shouldn’t deter companies from investing in their employees and can make them more profitable. businesses more attractive to employers.

“[Employees] are going to come out and continue to promote great skills and great talents in the industry, a kind of long-term perspective, but also think in a short-term perspective. Imagine if we don’t train them and they stay in our organization, ”said Bryant. “They are either underperforming or not performing to their full potential. We cannot fear that they are outperforming elsewhere when they are underperforming here. “

As of September 2020, the median number of years that salaried employees were with their employers was 4.1 years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The era of employees staying in companies for decades is over, but employers can still have a competitive advantage in hiring if they invest in education.

Bryant said competitive advantage is more important than ever, especially with the differences in how generations of workers value their jobs and businesses.

“Millennials, in particular, are stepping into their middle, senior, and even executive positions,” said Bryant. “At this point there is an expectation with this age group and this demographic that says, ‘I want more from my employer. I want to know what is the purpose of the work. I want to know that when I show up everyday, I’m making a difference. ‘”

If companies don’t invest in those priorities, Bryant said employees would leave the door.

Merging learning into the workplace culture

Education and learning may not solve all the problems in today’s job market, but it can help recruit new talent and compensate for the cycle of understaffing leading to labor shortages. more important.

“I think it’s extremely important to be able to develop your workforce in such a way that while you have to pivot the strategic direction of the business, it doesn’t cost skills anything,” said Bryant. “We have to have people who are knowledgeable, who are ready to go at any time. You have to have a culture that supports a growth mindset.”

Other HRDs said their companies have invested in education to support the well-being and growth of employees, regardless of their tenure at the company.

“We prioritize the training and development of all associates, regardless of their current situation. We want all of our associates to grow, to strive for leadership. [at H&R Block] or expand their current role, ”said Tiffany Monroe, head of human resources and culture at H&R Block.

While a change in corporate culture doesn’t happen overnight, Brooks said it begins when leaders and executives communicate with their employees and with each other.

“I’m not entirely sure that many leaders and managers feel prepared for the kind of ‘career curiosity’ conversation that could be the new face of management and leadership with a workforce that is not. ‘doesn’t necessarily plan to stay,’ Brooks said. “It’s less about where people work and more about what people do, and it’s a really fundamental shift in thinking about how to manage.”

Overall, Albrecht said companies need to invest in people as people, not just as workers.

“There are companies that realize that if they don’t win the hearts and minds of the people who work for them, especially with what is happening with the Great Resignation and the Great Decentralization of Work, they can do anything. the skill build they want, but they’re going to waste their money, ”Albrecht said.


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