Investing in Career Growth Powers Employee Motivation

April 26, 2023

By Kelley Briggs
In the past two years, HR leaders have seen talent recruitment and management turned upside down and inside out. The ‘Great Resignation,” hybrid work arrangements, and “quiet quitting” have impacted how HR leaders do their jobs, how employees respond to the “new normal” in their workplace, and what role organizations play in satisfying employees’ personal goals. One thing we have learned is when organizational leaders make an investment in the long-term success of their employees (a proactive mindset) rather than simply getting bodies back into seats (a reactive response), employees are happier and more motivated to perform at their highest levels.

Since talent development starts during the recruiting and hiring process — and extends throughout the entire employee journey — here are a few employee engagement ideas HR managers can proactively use to build a strong team culture and motivate employees.

Incorporate Skills-Based Hiring

The ongoing talent shortage has forced employers to broaden their talent pools and find new ways to evaluate candidates transitioning from other industries. To that end, McKinsey reports there has been a rise in skills-based hiring, a move away from the traditional approach to recruiting which places more importance on similar experience, past job titles, and degrees. Incorporating skills-based hiring means your new team members spend less time onboarding and can start making contributions much sooner in their new roles. It also ensures a more diverse talent pool, which Forbes has shown increases innovation and the bottom line.

Attract and Acquire Top Talent

Be opportunistic to ensure you are recruiting top talent and not just hiring employees. It’s not just about filling vacancies; it’s about bringing on employees who can make an impact, contribute to your company culture, and become future leaders of your organization. This is more about strategy than tactics. Start with a solid understanding of the skills and attributes your organization needs to succeed, and then combine that with a proactive sourcing plan to snag the most appropriate candidates. You don’t need to go down the rabbit hole for every single job opening you have, though. HR leaders can assess which roles are critical to achieving their organizational goals and focus on niche roles, such as technology and leadership. Some industries — like tech, hospitality, and retail — can significantly benefit from this approach because it helps target the best candidates available.

Invest in Talent Development

Along with recruiting top talent, upskilling your current workforce and developing top performers are keys to keeping employees happy and motivated. The benefits of this are endless, with no downsides. Upskilling can:

🔹Increase employee satisfaction, encouraging employees to take on new roles within your organization (rather than looking elsewhere)

🔹Improve morale and employee motivation

🔹Boost productivity when employees are confident their company is behind them

🔹Encourage collaboration, everyone is contributing to the greater good

🔹Reduce hiring and onboarding costs

🔹Create a great team culture, where learning and innovation thrive

🔹Future-proof your organization for the next downturn or disaster because your workforce is better prepared

Skill development is increasingly important to employees, too. With millennials composing one of the largest pools of labor, hiring managers need to know that in order to achieve optimum levels of engagement at work, 93% of them prioritize skill development.

Organizations that fail to train employees and do not adequately groom them for future roles and leadership positions will experience a talent gap that creates deficiencies at all levels. The ripple effect of the “Great Resignation,” is that there are not enough people to fill higher-skilled roles, which are traditionally harder to recruit for. Upskilling and promoting from within is a strategic and proactive way to fill those gaps now and create an internal talent pipeline for the future. Developing talent internally also translates to lower recruiting costs and effort since it’s easier to recruit for entry-level and early career positions (especially as more Gen Z candidates enter the job market).

Become More Desirable

Employers can take action to make themselves more attractive to highly skilled job seekers. In 2022, the best Fortune 100 Companies to Work For® prioritized employee well-being, inclusion, and purpose. They listened and were empathetic to their workforce, as human beings and not just workers. 75% of hiring managers say that an organization’s brand and culture matter, so focusing on employee engagement (as a reflection of culture) is critical. Today’s job seeker is looking for a work environment that emphasizes workplace flexibility, a healthy company culture, appreciation and rewards for performance, and plenty of employee career growth opportunities.

Many organizations are finding success using employee engagement platforms like Connects to support and facilitate the kinds of things job seekers (and employees) want. Technology tools that connect employees across locations (and in on-site positions like frontline and warehouse workers, who may not be in one place or on one device all day long) create a community where employees can recognize each other for memorable milestones and share in career accomplishments. It’s crucial to find a technology partner who understands the challenges of boosting employee engagement and has experience helping organizations strengthen their employer brand and employee value proposition.

Play the Talent Long Game

According to CNBC, the ‘Great Resignation’ will soon grind to a halt. While 2022 had four million people leave their jobs each month, in 2023 they report that demand will “even out” and there will be much less job-hopping. Even though labor shortages are shrinking, HR leaders will still need to prioritize talent acquisition strategies to attract top talent and talent development programs that demonstrate how much your employees and their contributions matter. These are the long-term practices that leading employers are already using to increase employee engagement, improve employee retention, and reduce churn – during an economic downturn or not.

Any organization of any size in any industry can adopt these same strategies and reap the benefits. Once that happens, productivity and profitability soar. Sir Richard Branson said it best: “Train people well enough so they can leave. Treat them well enough so they don’t want to.”