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  1. Blog
  2. Employer Resources

The Case for Reskilling & Upskilling During the Pandemic

It might be exactly what your employees need

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Photo courtesy of Glen Carrie
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Wondering how to win your employees’ loyalty and save yourself a recruiting headache? Try asking them what they want out of their careers post-pandemic.

More than 50 percent of women say the pandemic has affected their career aspirations, meaning now is the perfect opportunity for you to help your teams reassess their long-term goals and for your organization to reevaluate how shifting their career focus might help your company do better business. 

Read more: How Perceived Value Affects Your Employees & What You Can Do About It

Marie Buharin, a hiring manager and career development expert, says inviting honest feedback and transparency can establish trust with your team, a trust that is dearly needed to keep that unsettled set of aspiration-changers from looking elsewhere. “If you don’t support the people that you have, they’ll leave. You’ll have a very high turnover rate, and the business is going to suffer. Hiring is a very long process. You have to onboard a new hire. You’re going to lose a lot of resources by not supporting your employees to transition within a company.”

That’s right, we’re not talking about promotions or new projects, necessarily. Buharin said transition within a company—that should be music to recruiters’ ears. 

While 40 percent of hiring managers expect the ever-growing skills gap to make recruiting qualified talent a bear, most companies likely already have a group of employees in-house who are looking to reskill and upskill because the pandemic has changed the way they think about work in some form or another. Why not take advantage of your current workforce’s want of career exploration by inviting them to learn more about other opportunities within your organization?

Buharin says the best way to do this—without simply shaking them like Boggle pieces—is to focus on each individual employee’s career development, not, initially, your talent needs. You’re aiming to build “a culture that supports its employees rather than making them feel like they’re another gear in the system,” she says. Ask employees what they like and dislike about their current roles, how their goals have changed during the pandemic (we have an excellent resource for this), and whether they’re curious about other positions in the company. Communicate back to them that you, as a leader or manager, are willing and excited to help them reach their goals as well as the areas where the organization is looking to grow talent. 

If the employee is unsure or feeling a bit lost during the conversation, don’t sweat it. Buharin says managers can offer job shadowing or connections to mentors in other departments to help them learn more about other aspects of the business. 

If they do know what they want, then, Buharin says, it’s time to nail down the specifics: “It’s important to put together a plan to get the employee where they want to be.” Managers should figure out what training and new skills are needed, how long it will take for an employee to learn them, and how the company can help. They should also set clear metrics on what needs to be done to keep the employee on track. Milestones ensure the experience remains positive and doesn’t feel like lip service.

Read more: Coaching Direct Reports Off Your Team & Toward Their Goals

“Having those very clear milestones and performance goals is what’s going to keep morale up,” Buharin says. “Employees get dejected when there’s a lot of uncertainty. When a manager says ‘go ahead and mentor with this different business function’ without any clear goals of what you’re trying to learn or obtain, then an employee ends up shadowing this individual with no real objective. That’s when dejection sets in.”

Lastly, and most importantly from a culture perspective, train managers to let go gracefully. “I think it’s important for managers to recognize that employees don’t necessarily transition because there’s something wrong with you as a leader or you as a manager,” Buharin says. “People evolve. People develop. Interests change.”

And if they’re doing all of that without leaving your organization, then it’s safe to say managers have done their jobs exceptionally well. 

About our source

Marie Buharin is a business professional, leader in the health care industry, and founder of career development platform Modernesse. Having had opportunities to lead teams in both Fortune 500 companies as well as innovative start-ups, Buharin has spent the last decade navigating the pitfalls of the professional world. Her strengths are soft skills: leadership, communication, negotiation, conflict resolution, presentation, self-motivation, self-reflection. Buharin has been featured in Business News Daily, Medium, and The Muse. 

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