5 Definitive Ways to Unlock the Full Potential of Your Employees
“Why not see what happens when you challenge your employees to bring all of their talents to their job and reward them not for doing it just like everyone else, but for pushing the envelope, being adventurous, creative, and open-minded, and trying new things?”
– Tony Hsieh, former Zappos CEO
This quote is from a famous “Delivering happiness” book by Tony Hsieh about his path to building Zappos – the American online retail giant. Tony Hsieh knew for sure: to create a long-lasting business, you have to invest in your employees’ professional growth and personal development.
Recent findings of Gallup research prove Hsieh’s idea. It appears that companies with happy and engaged employees are 21% more profitable than companies with a less engaged workforce. Also, such companies indicate better customer relations, fewer accidents at work, and fewer sick leaves.
In this post, we’ll try to dive into the approaches to creating a healthy working environment where people can boost their skills and bring value to an organization.
1. Close skill gaps
83% of American businesses report they experience workforce skill gaps that impact their revenues and future growth.
The skill gap is a two-way street. Not only do the companies suffer from skill gaps, but employees feel the impact of skill shortage too. For the workforce, the skills mismatch means being unable to compete with peers and follow the desire care path.
Stephan Kasriel, CEO of Upwork, predicted the upskilling and reskilling trend back in 2017. At the time, Kasriel wrote his manifesto about the half-life of skills. According to Stephan, every five years, a certain skill becomes half less valuable than before. As a way out, employees should revise their competencies every two or three years and keep an eye on labor market trends to harness new skills faster than others.
Employers must aid their workforce in bridging the skill gaps as well. First, they should outline the specific hard and soft skills for a desired position or role. Next, it’s important to implement future-proofing against the future talent market trends. The knowledge about the current skills mismatch and the future demanded skills helps organizations offer skill-targeted internal programs, develop future leaders, and upskill the workforce.
With all these efforts in place, employees can get a clear picture of future skills they’ll need to develop to stay competitive in an organization’s talent market and beyond it.
To illustrate the example of how businesses bridge skill gaps to build an internal talent pipeline and individual learning journey, check out the case study for A1, Austria’s leading telecommunication company.
A1 reached out to HRForecast with a request to study their internal talent marketplace and build a future-proof workforce through learning journeys tailored to specific skills. With our smartPeople tool and AI algorithms, we uncovered A1’s current competencies, identified suitable candidates for future skill profiles, and mapped the learning paths tailored for specific skills.
2. Give tasks outside job roles
Consider a diversification of tasks: empower your employees with new duties or expand their job roles.
By implementing stretch assignments, you’ll be able to:
- Help employees step out of their comfort zone and accommodate themselves to a new function.
- Develop a business-focused mindset among a workforce (new challenges and responsibilities boost employee engagement and leadership).
- Upskill your workforce.
- Empower your employees and increase job satisfaction rates.
At Hallmark, the stretch assignment led to a separate company’s division. Tara Jaye Frank, Vice President of Consumer Platforms at Hallmark, got a chance to advocate for multicultural consumers. After Tara researched and proposed the Multicultural Center of Excellence as a model to expand the company’s reach globally, she was promoted to Vice President of Multicultural Strategy. For Frank, this is a bright example of a side project that turned out a success and an extra role in a company. Who knows what growth opportunities will your employees unlock?
3. Develop leadership
58% of businesses state that their priority is leadership skills development. In 2021, companies focus on developing their middle management suite and emotional intelligence to improve employee engagement.
For example, Kevin Krufse, CEO of LEADx and Forbes contributor, describes key leadership development trends in 2020 and beyond:
- Putting learned skills into practice after a training program ends and shifting from a one-and-done mindset.
- Boosting leadership among middle- and junior-level managers rather than focusing on a C-suite and employees working for a company for three or more years.
- Adding elements of coaching to help managers boost team morale and build rapport.
SnackNation, an American healthy snack delivery service, went through several iterations implementing their leadership program Sensei Sessions. They shifted from a classic workshop format to an open format with crowdsourced topics. Thus, mentors and mentees (employees) got a chance to present a case of their interest to the team. As a result, SnackNation manages to track relevant learning topics from their employees and improve communication and presentation skills in a friendly environment at the same time.
4. Eliminate barriers
At large companies, people often know only their direct colleagues and are locked in their silos. To detect key talents, potential mentors, and candidates for upskilling, HR can benefit from skill management software.
The matching algorithm helps HR leaders get a helicopter view on skills and competencies, connect the employees, open tasks and job roles, and facilitate HR and employees’ collaboration.
smartPeople is an example of such a skill management platform. This customizable SaaS solution helps HR executives track available skills across the organization, get insights on the internal talent marketplace, and leverage internal talents for open positions and tasks.
5. Implement peer-to-peer learning
Lately, the learning paradigm shifted from a “supervising” to a “partnership” and “mentoring” pattern. It means that pioneering organizations start following a peer-to-peer learning approach. Such an approach fosters mentorship and training by colleagues, not by some third-party consultants or supervisors. Peer-to-peer learning has some significant advantages.
First, people experience less fear to make a mistake or fail when studying with their peers. Second, peer-to-peer training helps organizations foster self-governance, employee empowerment, and better decision-making. Finally, it allows to grow the expertise within an organization and boost knowledge sharing.
Modern skill management platforms also often include the mentoring-matching function, making peer-to-peer learning more transparent, innovative, and pushing the bottom-up approach. The matching algorithm connects employees, making potentially suitable mentors visible. In this way, the employees can support each other in specific projects or tasks more effectively.
A vivid example of peer-to-peer training is JetBlue Scholars, a mentorship program at JetBlue, an American airline company. In this program, senior colleagues provide mentorship and training for colleagues without a college degree. As a result, the company managed to save about $2.8 million on tuition fees and increase employee engagement to a striking 85%.
To develop your employees to their full potential, make sure employees put their theoretical knowledge into practice, solving routine tasks in a new way. It’s important to celebrate small achievements and emphasize an employee’s role in the company’s success.
It’s an unquestionable fact: there’s a direct link between training and employee engagement. Thus, HR and senior management’s role is to promote the learning culture, make the learning process accessible, and engage employees in developing each other’s skills.
Here at HRForecast, we help companies like BASF, Merck, T-Mobile, Continental, and many others build a future-proof workforce with our SaaS solutions for skill management and workforce planning. Check out our tools or contact us to learn more about customized solutions for your organization.