Human Capital Management is often ranked lowest in Management’s list of priorities in most organizations. Across industries, especially in SMEs and mid-market enterprises, initiatives that involve investing in or upskilling employees are more of a ‘good-to-have’ and not really a business mandate; and it’s not a surprise that these are the first ones to be axed when budget cuts are needed. Sometimes they may find their way back on Management’s list of to-do’s, not because they are considered valuable but more like a checkmark to demonstrate all-round growth of the organization.
But the world has its own ways of setting things right. We are now faced with a situation never seen before in collective public memory. The pandemic has not just impacted our private and social lives; it has changed the way we work, communicate with colleagues, partners, and our customers. Industry observers predict that this has led to a new normal, where companies discover better, safer, and more cost-effective and coherent ways of working and staying more productive, which were never tried earlier.
While working remotely has led to a sense of companies going overboard to focus on productivity citing ‘survival-of-the-fittest’ as their success mantra, this is also a time when most organizations are covertly considering on cutting down on ‘excess baggage’. While ‘excess baggage’ may be measured against performance metrics before management takes a call; what are the measures that organizations can take to ensure that they motivate those at the higher end of the performance curve? How can high-performers be made to stay back and stay productive after the pandemic ends?
What does the research say?
According to McKinsey research, companies that invest in developing people’s capabilities during ‘significant transformations’, ‘are 2.4 times more likely to hit their performance targets’ – and now is indeed a time of transformation for the world. Continuing investment in development programs will ensure that the organization not just retains its employees, but also takes steps to prepare them for possible ambiguous roles in the VUCA world. Organizations that offer “comprehensive training programs” reportedly have, on average, 218% higher income per employee and 24% higher profit margins.
As per the World Economic Forum’s 2018 Future of Jobs’ report, an employee would need 101 days of retraining and up-skilling in the period up to 2022. Further, any emerging skills gaps — both among individual workers and among companies’ senior leadership — may significantly hinder the organization’s transformation management. Employee capability development thus has its impact from a mere empowerment tool to be one of the key determinants of organizational success.
So how do we go about doing this?
Opportunities for development serve as an important source of motivation for employees during these challenging times. How do we identify the right set of people for development programs in a sizeable, multi-functional, multi-tiered yet equal opportunity enterprise?
There are two things to be kept in mind here – how do we create the candidate pipeline for specific L&D programs, and how do we know that the team selected to go through a specific learning program is best suited to benefit themselves, and the organization, through the same? The first answer is often provided by the enterprises themselves, and rightly so. Organizations screen all high performers who did consistently well year-on-year to be classed in the ‘high potential’ or ‘HiPo’ bracket. These are the employees who need to be retained and identified for development programs that can take them to next level in their careers. The second answer comes from an assessment of this talent- that would give the HR insight into high-potentials and their plan for development.
How Development Centres can help Organisations select and develop the ‘best’ talent
The current VUCA environment demands securing, stabilizing, and future-proofing your business. HiPo employees are considered exceptional contributors to the future growth of a business. Likewise, leaders are the backbone of any organization. Hence, it is essential for an organization to be future-ready and have a systematically identified talent pipeline to take up more demanding roles in the future.
Development Centres help in profiling an individual through a series of simulations to identify the right development programs for each ‘HiPo’ employee.
If, for instance, your organization is looking to measure innovation to address current business challenges in a HiPo employee, a combination of a personality profiler, an ability test, and case study simulation can easily help you evaluate this competency.
A physical Development Centre is ruled out as a possibility in near future due to restrictions on public contact and safe distancing norms in place. However, a HiPo program implemented through a comprehensive online Development Centre can help businesses identify future leaders as part of efficient succession planning. A Virtual Development Centre offers all assessment simulations online while giving a realistic experience to users. Furthermore, there is a definite cost advantage in terms of significantly lower overhead expenses in running these centers.
Well-developed Virtual Development Centres can also provide as close an experience as Physical / In-person Development Centres – while giving the participants comfort of their homes/ offices, the flexibility of appearing for the assessments.
Every crisis comes with a silver lining and presents a hidden opportunity. Thus, every employer in current times has an opportunity to create a value proposition based on how valued they make their employees feel. With technology being both a disruptor and an enabler, a comprehensive approach to talent strategy and talent insights will be the key to positive and proactive management of employees’ aspirations and development.