Keep the Workforce Pipeline Open

By on January 20, 2010
Workforce Pipeline

Perhaps you’ve heard that in the next 5-10 years, there’s going to be a mass exodus of leadership talent from companies across the nation. This same prediction was made about five years ago, but with the recession intervening, many experienced managers and executives have postponed their retirement plans until after the economy and their investments recover. The result is that when the economy does recover in earnest, as it is expected to in the next couple of years, all those delayed retirements are going to hit all at once.

No one can predict what’s actually going to happen in the next few years, but we do know that in any economy, a robust talent pipeline is a major element of long-term competitiveness. And by talent, we’re not just talking about identified leaders and managers. Your front-line individual contributors – the people working on the factory floor – need to be included in that mix, too. Sarah Jones, chief executive of UFI in Great Britain says, “Organizations must focus on nurturing talent if they are to survive, grow and succeed. The continuous development and growth of people is inextricably linked to business performance.”

Some might ask if simply recruiting new employees with the needed skills might be more effective than training. A 2008 report, Nurturing Talent, conducted by the Cranfield School of Management in Great Britain, compared the impact of recruiting externally with that of developing employees. Three quarters of the 1,189 companies involved in the study felt that training their own staff was more beneficial to their business than recruiting people from outside.

Another way to look at employee development is to identify the costs of not training your employees.

If employees don’t provide quality customer service, how many customers will you lose and at what cost?

If employees don’t know how to run a new piece of equipment, what is the cost of making and scrapping products that don’t meet customer requirements?

If employees don’t work together as a team, what is the cost of employees spending time on unproductive activities like arguing, not communicating and re-doing work?

Finally, if your staff has been downsized, existing employees must take on additional responsibilities. Do they know how to do these jobs? To maintain customer satisfaction, you need to provide opportunities for employees to learn the new tasks now required of them. Now is the time to give these employees more support and training, not less.

Employee development at all levels needs to be a company-wide priority. It needs to be focused on creating a more agile and productive workforce, and it can also be used as a recruiting strategy for today’s Millennial Generation as they enter the workforce in earnest.

About Barry Schapiro

Barry is the Workforce Solutions Group Practice Leader for Leadership and Professional Development. His experience includes delivery and management of business training in a variety of industries, with specialties in leadership, team development, generational diversity, and customer service. Twitter

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