Organizations are facing an uphill battle trying to retain their workforce. While some are looking at increased compensation as the way out (there are others that are looking at enhancing the employee experience though user friendly processes, reduced red tape, open door policy and improved manager connect to name a few. However, one another important factor that plays a role in employee retention is Learning and Capability development, which should never be ignored as that has a significant impact on an employee.
Gone are the days when an employee was provided basic soft skills and technical knowhow and allocated to a program, expecting him to become an expert by working on repeatable tasks. Trainings and capability development were merely a formality where the HR used to mandate 2 days of training per year, and the hapless manager used to allocate trainings basis the portfolio available with the inhouse L&D team. The employee used to attend these trainings with no clear interest of expecting a value addition, and soon these forced trainings became a mere formality, a formality that cost the company time and money.
Today’s business environment requires for us to be nimble, cost conscious yet effective. Putting employees through some mandated trainings which add no value to their profile but are good to complete the tic box exercise, a mere waste of time. So, what is the most effective method where the employee as well as the organization are satisfied? Should the HR teams spend more time in evaluating gaps in performance and link the same to trainings, or should we get more external consultants. Since this will cost a lot of money, and the HR for the future anyways needs to be nimble, I am sure there are better internal ways of fixing the problem.
I feel the answer is pretty simple.
If an organization has an effective performance review system, that measures, monitors, shares and help develop key employee parameters, then ideally their learning plan should not be a surprise. Many a times Ops would expect HR to take the lead, but in reality, it’s the Ops teams that are delivering to business expectations, hence line managers are the best suited to identify gaps, discuss with the employee and come to a consensus around resolution. This means that the employee and his manager both agree on the roadmap which includes content and type of intervention and timelines associated with the same. Rather than letting the employee go on his/her own to fend for themselves, at this stage the manager needs to identify mentors who would help the employee overcome their gaps, and the mentor + employee take joint ownership of closing the allocated action. Once an employee has been trained by the mentor or mentors on a or multiple skills, the mentor updates the line manager with the status, and the action can then be closed or tweaked as per the feedback. One piece of advice. The tracking of all actions is key and here a digital interface would be of a great help.
Now that the employee’s business-related training gap is fixed how about aspects around an employee aspiration? E.g. A person working in HR wants to understand how the Procurement process works as s/he wants to better understand reasons for delays etc. Can the PLANNING DOCUMENT be updated with an action, that this employee gets to spend a day with the Procurement team? Another example is of an employee wanting to learn Python though he has nothing to do with it in his role, and another wants to learn the basics around Big Data. Many a times we have trained manpower already available in an organization, and they can conduct group sessions to assist improve knowledge of employees with such aspirations. We can also use online platforms like LinkedIn Learning as these interfaces have a plethora of training programs which are self-paced, device agnostic and easy to understand.
In summary – the line manager should conduct an employee capability development session at the start of every year, understand key gaps in their performance, document all strengths and agree on a way forward from an organizational standpoint. The line manager should follow this up by investing considerable time understanding the aspirations of the employee and identify methods by which these “non-essential” trainings can be imparted – either through internal or external sources. All the actions should be document in the PLANNING DOCUMENT and followed up regularly, my suggestion is a monthly informal and a quarterly formal catch up. Changes and tweaks can be made in the Planning Document as the year passes by, and this PLANNING DOCUMENT becomes a MASTER DOCUMENT for the length of tenure of the employee in the organization. With such flexible interventions, an employee truly believes that the organization is concerned for his welfare and his future.
A happy employee in this case churns better results and truly connects with the organization.