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L&D’s Role in Attracting Top Talent


The last two years have been a lot for workers. Pandemic stress, paired with shifts in the job market have meant that more workers are burning out, and more have been re-examining their lives and careers. If another disaster were to hit tomorrow, would they be happy at their current jobs? Are they really doing what they want to do with their lives? Is their workplace a good fit for who they are as a person?

Those who answered “no” have been voting with their feet: 4.5 million workers quit their jobs in March of 2022, proving that the Great Resignation, which began last year, is showing no signs of stopping just yet.

This is creating a harrowing job market for employers. How can you attract top talent when workers are leaving in droves? During this time of uncertainty and stress, many company leaders are looking to L&D to help them attract job candidates.

Learning for driven job candidates

You might think of learning as something job candidates see only after they’re hired, during the onboarding phase. But the truth is, learning has a lot to do with growing a team of highly qualified professionals.

The best job candidates are ambitious; they are most likely to gravitate towards jobs that offer them a chance to better themselves. A report from Pricewaterhouse Cooper (PwC) found that young professionals see learning as a perk; the professionals surveyed for that report valued learning and development more than other kinds of benefits, including even cash bonuses.

This can’t be just any kind of learning, however; the learning you offer should serve the needs of the learners as well as the needs of the organization, and ambitious learners want the skills to move up the corporate ladder quickly. LinkedIn’s latest Workplace learning report shows workers’ top motivations to learn are all connected to their personal career goals; they’re motivated to learn if the learning “helps (them) get another job internally, be promoted, or get closer to reaching (their) career goals.” In fact, 52 percent of PwC’s respondents said they’d choose a job that would let them move into a leadership position quickly over one with a higher salary.

Companies that are serious about attracting top talent have taken notice; according to LinkedIn’s latest Workplace learning report, leadership training is an “urgent priority” this year. Half of the companies surveyed are focusing on leadership and management training in 2022.

Managers: L&D’s secret recruiting weapon

When building a strategy for recruiting, L&D should look beyond offering training for job candidates. It’s also important to focus on your secret weapon: managers.

Why? Think of it this way: when you’re recruiting, the last thing you want is a current employee to mention to a potential hire that their boss is unpleasant and doesn’t care about their advancement. But if a current employee is constantly talking about how great their manager is, and how the manager has suggested specific development opportunities for that particular worker, that word of mouth is an amazing job ad for that department.

Managers are always on the front line of training; they act as mentors, coaches, and bosses. They know what their team members are going through at home, what challenges they have at work, and where each team member needs development. Providing adequate training for them in both soft skills and management is critical to attracting talent; according to LinkedIn, employees who feel cared for at work are 3.2 times more likely to remain at that job and 3.7 times more likely to recommend their current workplace to another candidate.

Giving workers the skills to do the job

Skills are changing. This has been a big part of the skills gap all along. Thanks to the rapid advance of technology, the half life of a learned skill is five years, and the half life of a technical skill is 2 years. According to LinkedIn, workers’ skills for the same occupation changed by about 25% from 2015 to 2021, and the pace is increasing; the report expects workers’ skills to change by about 40% by 2025.

This is concerning for L&D departments, but it’s also worrying for workers — especially those who may have been forced to leave the workplace in 2020 due to the pandemic. Top talent wants to know that their skills are going to be updated while they’re working for you. They need the skills to do their jobs and they expect that you will offer those. They’re also willing to walk away if their skills are not being used; employees who feel that their skills are not being put to good use are 10 times more likely to be looking for a new job than those who feel that their skills are being put to good use.

With that in mind, it’s more important than ever to create a strong learning program in your organization and to be up front about it during the recruiting and hiring process.

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