The skills revolution accelerated overnight—and is now upon us. In a global research survey, Cornerstone identified a serious confidence gap between employers and employees about their ability to consume skills development. Developing critical skills in a way that’s effective and meaningful for employees is a challenge, and these challenges exist across companies, industries, and the globe. This series will examine how leaders can enable skills development and empower their people and their organizations to thrive in the future.
Employees today expect companies to take an active role in their development. According to LinkedIn’s 2019 Workforce Learning Report, 94% of employees say they would stay at a company longer if it simply invested in helping them learn, as more training is linked to improved self-confidence, better job performance and improved time management skills.
But just because you’re investing in L&D doesn’t mean that your employees are getting the message. Our research shows that 90% of business leaders feel confident in their ability to develop their employees’ skills. But employees have much less confidence in their organization’s ability to develop and equip them with critically needed skills—only 60% of employees feel this same confidence.
In addition to simply making an investment, companies need to ensure that they’re communicating about learning investments and opportunities, tying learning back to company goals and fostering employee-led career growth through L&D.
Prioritize Transparent Communication About Development
Don’t assume your efforts to prioritize training are obvious to your employees: Tell employees across all types of skills groups what investments you’re putting toward learning and development. And it shouldn’t just be a one-time conversation. Will your employees remember about resources you pointed them to once during an onboarding session? Frequently reminding your employees about what options are available to them can help them feel more in control of their growth and development.
Transparency about learning and development also means acknowledging areas where you’re still looking to improve. Identifying obstacles and demonstrating that you have a plan to clear them helps build trust and signal to your employees that you’re actively thinking about their futures.
Embed Skills Development into Your Company Strategy
Ideally, learning and development should fit with your organization’s goals and your broader business plan—but according to our research, only 55% of companies believe their L&D programs are well-aligned with their overall direction. Not only is this important for the performance of the business, it’s critical to the performance of your employees: Research from McKinsey suggests that employees perform best when employee goals are linked to business priorities.
How can you help align skills development with your company’s larger goals? Start with these steps to help build momentum:
Have managers create personalized development plans for everyone on their teams.
Map employees to a larger talent plan or create a list of short-term priorities you need for skill building.
Locate adjacent skills that can help your employees reskill to new tasks or responsibilities
Involve talent leaders in strategic business conversations.
With a clearer understanding of the role learning and development plays in the organization, employees are more likely to understand where they—and their growth path—fit in.
Create Skills Opportunities Filled With Meaning
Remember: skill development is a shared responsibility. When employees are able to find meaning in their work, they’re more likely to tap into their skill set, collaborate with others and reach their full potential. Encourage managers to take the time to listen carefully to employees and discover what they find most engaging about their work, or what else they hope to learn. Use these conversations to find stretch assignments or to uncover opportunities for non-linear career progression.
Matching workers to training that’s aligned with their existing capabilities and their future interests makes it more likely that they can transition to emerging positions and help meet new needs within the organization. This will also help demonstrate to your employees that they are in the driver’s seat of their growth, providing motivation for them to be the best versions of themselves.
Looking for more practical next steps you can take to address and enable skills development to empower your people — and organization — to thrive in the future? Download our ebook, Bridge the Workforce Skills Gap: 3 Key Places to Start.
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