The current time show that employees are evolving and will continue to change even faster in the coming years. With the changes of what matters to employees and what they’re looking for at work, it’s more crucial now than ever before to develop solid strategies that truly put employees at the center to retain a world-class workforce.
There are many ways to improve employees’ experience, yet the challenge is determining which programs will yield tangible results within a reasonable amount of time. Is self-paced learning most beneficial for skills development, or is there a better school of thought to consider? The answers will vary from company to company and person to person; however, one thing that you can try to increase employee engagement is introduce them to internal growth opportunities as soon as possible.
Let’s dive in
Having growth discussion during the onboarding process and introduce employees to internal growth opportunities
The question is, how exactly do you define those opportunities because they might mean different things to different people. The trend towards a more inclusive workplace was already gaining steam before the disruptions of the last few years, so the difficulty now is managing a more diverse workplace where people have different values, skills, and life perspectives too. You need to hear everyone's voice equally and clearly.
While the standard play is to offer promotions or new job titles, more organizations are introducing employees to lateral growth opportunities within the company. For example, let's say you hire a 24-year-old software engineer with superb academic credentials, internship experience, and an immense amount of raw talent. But after getting settled, it's clear that this employee also has a natural talent for sales and marketing, so it only makes sense to put someone in a position to succeed when they demonstrate such a unique skill set.
The idea of empowering individuals, and giving them the liberty to challenge themselves is paramount to increasing employee experience. By taking on additional responsibilities with increased accountability, employees feel that they are learning and making an impact within their scope of work. At the very least, a lateral move will show an employee how different areas of the business work, which may prepare them for an executive promotion down the road – hopefully with your company and not a competitor, which brings us to our next word of advice on internal mobility.
Support internal mobility whenever possible
What exactly is internal mobility? Unfortunately, the concept has gotten a little too amorphous and vague, so let's offer a more narrow definition. In an HR context, mobility can refer to remote work opportunities, or it can refer to an employee's relationship with the organization as a whole. We understand that not every organization is large enough to offer lateral growth opportunities. One alternative is to look for areas where employees can work on a project basis and collaborate.
Not only is it a great strategy to see how well certain workers can work together towards a common goal, but it's also a ripe opportunity to identify competency gaps within the organization. You might discover that your digital marketing strategy is pretty solid if you bring product development specialists on board. Still, you also might find that you're missing critical roles like a quality assurance position of some kind.
So, as job descriptions become more of a general guideline, you'll need to support internal mobility to identify employees that have hard-to-find skill sets to fill these gaps. Internal mobility also has an effect on employees’ motivation to stay. If workers don't feel like their employer offers them growth opportunities – whether it be a lateral move or cross-functional projects and collaborations – they will choose to test the job market, which is flush with openings at the time of this writing.
Provide skills development options that matter
Offering employee development programs is one thing; the employee experience participating in these programs is another thing to consider. It’s not enough to train workers on the latest update to Salesforce or Hubspot. You have to offer them tangible value in workplace learning that they can apply in other areas too.
Also, some organizations are experimenting with a hybrid remote work model where employees only spend a certain amount of time on-site in the office. Over the last few years, tech-heavy companies have had little trouble transitioning to remote work platforms because there was already a base level of tech literacy in place, but what about other industries?
For instance, a major insurance company's workforce never had to work entirely online until the pandemic, so there was a steep learning curve for the entire industry. Thus, an easy win is to provide skills development to make remote work even more efficient, which dovetails perfectly with an employee-first mindset.
Ultimately, how well you present internal growth opportunities will significantly affect your company's ability to retain and hire top-class, in-demand workers.
Investing in your people and introduce them to growth opportunities at the very beginning is one of the best ways to increase employee experience and retention. When employees feel empowered and their strengths are not only recognized but applied in a meaningful way, they will help your organization thrive.