Most employers have felt the pain of the labor shortage in recent years. With inflation driving pay rates higher than ever and the new wave of quiet quitting, employers have been forced to find creative ways to maintain and stabilize their workforce in a highly competitive environment. Now is the time for employers to be intentional about identifying and retaining those employees who are meeting expectations.
Implementing an employee development program is an effective approach to retaining those identified employees and increasing their engagement level within the organization. A well-built and well-communicated employee development program consists of a defined plan for employees to grow their knowledge, skills and abilities through the support of their employer. These programs include activities such as training plans, mentoring programs, job shadowing, and stretch assignments. Let’s dive a bit deeper into each of these options:
Training Plans: Employees often have specific training plans when they first move into a new role but once they have passed the new employee phase and are fully functioning in the role, training plans sometimes become a thing of the past. Employers who want to invest in developing their internal talent understand the importance of continuous training. The desire to retain employees is an excellent motivation for employers to develop a plan of specific training tailored to an employee’s needs to prepare the employee for the next level or role within the desired career path.
Mentoring: A practice that has been around for decades, mentoring sometimes occurs organically but when a company implements a formal mentoring program, it’s a win/win for everyone. The less experienced employee gains insight from someone who is further along on the journey and the mentoring employee has added purpose. Successful arrangements can increase engagement levels for both employees. Leaders will need to realize the importance of matching employees together based on developmental needs versus the strengths and skills of the mentoring employee. It’s also necessary to have trackable goals for the mentoring process.
Job Shadowing: A great opportunity to provide employees with exposure to other departments, job shadowing allows employees to learn about different career paths within an organization. Not only does it reveal other possible future roles, but it also allows employees to better understand the big picture of the organization so they can see how their current department and role impact other areas of the organization.
Stretch Assignments: Employees are often given tasks and projects that fit within their role. Incorporating stretch assignments into their development program intentionally puts employees in an uncomfortable place of learning something new. Often, the best growth comes when individuals are outside of their comfort zone and accomplishing something new. What better way to prepare an employee for the future than to give an assignment intended to help them realize their true capabilities.
The combination of these activities into one development program for specific employees greatly increases the success of developing internal talent and retaining them to become fully engaged performers who will want to turn around and repeat the cycle with newer employees. Leaders who develop their culture into a growth minded environment focused on learning and sharing will be the employers who successfully recruit an engaged, high performing workforce in the future.
Written by: Lacy Bolling, SHRM-CP, PHR