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Weathering the “Great Resignation”- Building a Healthy Leadership Pipeline

Michelle Genser September 1, 2021

There’s no question that COVID-19 has forever changed the business landscape. Since the pandemic began, we’ve seen an abrupt transition to remote work, the rapid acceleration of digital transformation, and the sudden growth of e-commerce. Now add to that list the unprecedented pace at which employees are quitting their jobs.

What is the “Great Resignation?”

The “Great Resignation” trend began this spring, and there’s no end in sight. Workers are quitting jobs at the highest rate. The Bureau of Labor Statistics began tracking this data more than 20 years ago. They recently noted 11.5 million employees left their positions in April, May, and June, alone. In fact, according to an Achiever Workforce Institute survey conducted earlier this year, 52% of employees in North America say they’re planning to look for a new job this year.

To that end, there are all sorts of reasons why so many workers are jumping ship. Even employers with historically healthy retention rates are feeling the pain—especially the loss of employees in key leadership roles. Adding insult to injury, an incredibly tight labor market has created fierce competition for qualified candidates.

So what can HR pros do to stem the tide of this turnover tsunami? In this three-part blog series, we’ll take a look at how you can support your staff at every step of the employee journey–from the moment they’re hired to the day they walk out the door.

In this first blog, we’ll focus on the importance of building a talented and loyal workforce through development opportunities, and how to prepare your future leaders for success.

The Leadership Pipeline Requires Fostering a Culture of Learning

If you want your employees to stick around, a formal learning and development program can help. According to LinkedIn’s 2021 Workplace Learning Report, a whopping 94% of employees said they’d stay longer at a company that was invested in learning.

For example, a learning management system (LMS) is a great start. You need to use it for more than just onboarding or the occasional company-wide compliance training. Otherwise, you’ll miss out on great opportunities to provide continued training, support employee growth, and eliminate skills gaps.

Use your LMS as the basis for a wide-ranging learning program that:

  • Begins with proactively asking what each employee needs, to create personalized development plans for every individual, based on their specific career and leadership goals.
  • Features a library of training resources and coursework to hone the skills required to do their current job, and prepares them to take the next step forward in their careers.
  • Includes a variety of learning content created by internal subject matter experts, to encourage knowledge-sharing and capture institutional knowledge.
  • Connects learning and development goals directly to performance reviews, to support continued growth for career advancement.
  • Provides learning opportunities that are easily accessible and on demand, to serve employees wherever they’re at, day or night.

Promote Learning and Development Intiatives

A powerful way to promote these L&D initiatives is through personalized, data-driven messaging to employees. These rapid, relevant communications can point employees towards learning opportunities that can help them sharpen their skills and take the next step in their careers.

Facilitating training opportunities shows your commitment to employee growth, and helps you prepare tomorrow’s leaders. In addition, it opens up new opportunities and skill sets, advancing careers and motivating employees to reach further. Bored employees have plenty of time for job-seeking, so let’s avoid that at all cost!

Identify Your Potential People Managers

Furthermore, you need people managers, but do you know which of your employees are interested in that career path? The first step to developing your future leaders is finding out which of your employees actually want the gig. And remember, your superstar employees aren’t necessarily your best candidates. Just because a worker excels at their job, doesn’t mean they have the skills, or desire, to step into a managerial role.

The best way to identify your possible future leaders is to survey your staff and gauge their interest and potential for a leadership position. Similarly, you should also consider having current people managers complete a self-assessment to measure their performance and identify training opportunities.

Once you’ve learned who your candidates are, the next step is to develop their leadership skills.

Cultivate Skills to Build the Leadership Pipeline

For employees who’ve expressed an interest in a people manager position, it’s important to begin developing their leadership skills so they’ll be ready when opportunity knocks. For those already in leadership roles, you need to provide ongoing training to address weaknesses and reinforce proven management behaviors.

To grow employees’ leadership skills and set them up for success, you should:

  • Provide personalized suggestions for LMS courses, webinars, and other resources to develop their skills.
  • Incorporate leadership goals into performance reviews, with regular check-ins on progress and needs.
  • Identify mentorship programs, peer groups, and networking opportunities that can offer support and guidance.

For employees on a leadership track, timely, relevant messaging can keep them on target and focused on their growth. Reminders about courses and links to leadership resources or events can help prevent their career journey from getting sidetracked, stalled, or stagnant.

However, identifying and encouraging potential leaders is a win-win for employees and employers. As a result, employees know you’re invested in their growth, and you can create a pipeline of future leaders who will be ready to take the reins when the time comes.

Get Proactive About Learning and Leadership Development

Employees commonly have two complaints about their employers. First, poor communication. And, second, a lack of appreciation for their work. A problem that has been exacerbated in a remote workforce environment. A rapid, relevant communications platform can address both of these concerns, and take your L&D efforts to the next level.

After all, your LMS and other development resources are only effective if your employees use them. With automated, data-driven messaging, reach out to employees with proactive, periodic check-ins between performance reviews regarding their goals and career milestones. Don’t forget to proactively survey them to see if the time is right to grow your leadership pipeline.

For learning and leadership development, send timely reminders of relevant coursework and available resources for professional growth.

Additionally, automated notifications to managers are a vital tool to connect with employees on a personal level, and model good management behaviors for your future leaders. These messages provide managers with reminders about key dates in employees’ lives, like work anniversaries, birthdays, and other life events.

Finally, a data-driven communications platform can help you stay connected with your employees, and it can help them grow – and hopefully stay committed to your company.