It goes without saying that employers need to invest in their workforce. Digital technology is improving at a breakneck pace and management is re-thinking the way they invest in their employees. Leaders can help their employees become more flexible, adaptable and valuable to the company. A detailed report by MIT Sloan and Deloitte of almost 4000 executives, managers and analysts worldwide showed that investing in opportunity was the most effective way to build a high-value workforce.
This survey captured responses from individuals across 126 countries and 28 industries. Interviews with business executives, academics and domain experts brought a rich qualitative understanding of the ever changing relationship between the employee and the organisation.
Three out every four respondents said that they saw value in developing skills and thought it would benefit the organisation’s overall strategy but only 34% were happy with the investment the organisation currently made in them. Almost 50% said they would leave the organisation if offered a severance package. Building an opportunity workplace can help organisations circumvent this challenge.
A workplace like this allows employees to choose from mentorships, additional projects, networking events and sponsored courses to create a win-win situation for the company and themselves. Giving employees a choice and equal chance to choose the path they’d like to follow benefits the employee and employer alike. Instead of a predefined path for professional development, a more open path allows employees to choose what is valuable to them. It is also likely that they will succeed in their chosen endeavours versus trying to fit into roles that the firm deems fit.
However, It is important for workers to value what they are being offered. These should feed their passion, potential and align with their purpose. If they don’t they are likely to leave the organisation. Therefore, leaders should focus on empowering their workforce rather than cutting down on cost.
An additional factor that contributes to the success of these new marketplaces is agency; the ability to influence future outcomes. Top management should demand and in equal measure show agency, that shifts the focus from making better investments in people to supporting people make better choices themselves. An opportunity marketplace combines ethical and fiscal variables to maximise employee value and productivity. The crystal clear message is that the best way to create more opportunities for organisations comes from creating more opportunities for people who work for these organisations.
Schneider Electric employs over 100,000 individuals and learned that over half the employees who left the company felt that they could not see any opportunities for growth. This led them to build an “Open Talent Market” in 2018 to place employees on a variety of projects, from connecting them to mentors, providing side-gigs and sharing short-term assignments. They decided to create an internal market to dissuade employees from tapping the external market. An in-house AI enabled platform helps employees match skills to projects and creates choice rather than a fixed a career path. This initiative led employees to invest in their passion and interests. Employees worked on projects that align with their values and this improved workplace culture. The company looked at each individual as a whole and wanted to cater to their needs for growth. Scneider actively created new opportunities for their employees to stretch and acquire new skills.
It is imperative to build leadership commitment for an ideal marketplace. Leaders need to understand that if their employees want to work for other teams and take up more assignments that does not mean that their performance in their day job will suffer. Infact, if employees are allowed to pursue their interests and expand on their skills they are more likely to perform better at work. Instead of adopting the scarcity mindset, there is a need to get oriented towards abundance and focus on the employee’s best interests. Organizations should think of how their employees’ current roles are going to look next year and three years from now. They should encourage their employees to be skilled and adept in their current jobs and their future jobs too.
For its 20,000 employees DBS bank launched an e-curriculum. They launched a campaign to ensure that every employee was on-board and understood what this transition meant. This initiative helped DBS not only improve the company’s bottom line but also communicate to its employees that digital know-how increases opportunities.
Opportunity marketplaces definitely help high performers but they also benefit the average worker. Companies see a higher valuation of human capital and more value created for employees and the company alike. Strategic success for the company and worker development go hand in hand rather than choosing investor profits or investment in the workforce. From an either-or game it becomes a win-win situation.
In conclusion, the aim of every organisation is to create and respond to agency which is matched with high opportunity. The result is satisfied employees, empowered performers and employees who are strongly aligned with the organisation.