Why Discover Opportunities for Employees, Not the Other Way Around.

For years, we have been saying that it is important to have an equitable and fair working environment. Yet why are we still so far from making it a reality? 

How does discovering opportunities for employees has anything to do with it?

So, What Do We Mean By Discovering Employee Opportunity

Discovering employee opportunities is to give employees the autonomy in choosing which opportunity they would like to pursue in the organisation. 

This process is necessary because employees are often hindered by the lack of internal opportunities available to them, or transparent enough for them to take up. 

To your surprise, most employees don’t feel that they are given enough space for growth. In fact, research finds that only 43% of employees felt that their employers provided attractive development opportunities. 

Therefore it is important to keep employees engaged by providing adequate growth opportunities for them. Whether it be ad-hoc tasks floating around, bridging cross-departmental connections, or building mentorship relationships across the organisation. 

 

As employees gain a multitude of development opportunities open to them without leaving the organisation, their view of the overall company improves. 

They are also most likely to be more engaged and loyal to the organisation. 

Employee opportunities are windows for employees to be developed on their skills, perspectives, knowledge and interests.

Why Should We Discover Opportunities For Employees, You May Ask. 

This centres on how we view employee opportunity traditionally. 

While there are many types of opportunities for employees, they are dominantly opportunities from external recruitment. It is about filling a position by searching for external candidates who possess the skills and experience required to fill the demands of the organisation. 

In fact, PwC finds that companies in the US spend over 4 thousand USD on average, to hire one position. 

After that? Nothing. 

This shows that the system is broken when HR costs in recruitment incur repeatedly.

On one hand, the external recruitment model may not suffice organizational needs in the long term. On the other hand, it reflects that existing employees are left hanging in their roles. 

That is, employees may feel trapped as they are left to do the work they initially signed up for, but may not necessarily love after months, if not years in the same role. With time, employees often outgrow their role. In that case, employees often ameliorate from novices to experts in the field. They may not find it fulfilling to repeat that piece of work/routine anymore. 

When employees are not well cared for, that is deprived from opportunities they deserve, they will leave the company. Leaving the business to be in debt of HR expenses, and stuck in the loop of external recruitment.

This equates to about $23,6000 AUD in lost productivity per employee, and more if we factor in how boredom translates into employee turnover and more costs. 

Added by research conducted by a 60-year old HR Agency – Chandler Macleod. It sheds light on that over 85% of workers feel that they could more efficient at work, but do not live up to their full potential due to skills underutilisation. 

Undoubtedly, this is a missed opportunity as businesses fail to leverage on the full spectrum of employee skill-sets and interest.

You see, most companies trap employees in their position as little attention is put on them. 

As Professor Lynda Gratton put it, companies struggle to realise the importance of stretch assignments, on-the-job coaching and mentoring relationship. These are high-touch windows that can make significant differences to how a staff member may react with others. 

Of course, the most popular development and growth opportunities are formalised training. However, they may not be effective given high tuition fees, long time-horizons to the investment and the high exit costs of employees who leave the organisation post-training. 

Gratton states that ways of providing developmental opportunities for employees are changing considerably. There are cost-efficient ways to develop employees without forcing them on training too

 

Be a leader who is available for your people. On the job mentoring, coaching and stretch assignments are ways to develop and train employees naturally.

Another arm of employee opportunity is developmental relationships, which are embodied through relationships with peers, senior leaders and customers. 

Whereby Boston University’s research reveals that these relationships are central to the employee development process, and is a very secured mean of providing employee opportunity.  

As for those who are lucky enough to be in larger organsiations, they might get matched through internal mentorship programs. 

Therefore, overall large companies who suffer from the inability to provide adequate employee opportunity. 

They struggle to identify and promote the best internal employees, and are stranded with low employee morale and high turnover. Ultimately, resulting in a weak employer brand and disengaged workforce

Okay, enough with the negativity. Let’s go with some positive news. 

 

Benefits From Finding Those Opportunites

Xrosswork’s philosophy in creating an empowering and productive workplace stems from the flow-on effect that is born from enabling employee opportunity. 

Autonomising opportunities for employees can allow them to explore new and enrich skills that they already have. That way, organisations can foster cultures of development and collaboration, which can reap benefits in higher motivation and productivity levels as well as performance. It will also lead to a stronger employer brand and market reputation in the long term.

 

Transparent Opportunity Discovery Processes can Reduce Skill Gaps

By encouraging employees to explore tasks and opportunities that they are skilled to offer help on, or are interested to expand their knowledge, will allow employees to gain more cross-functional insights.  

These employees are then much more efficient than external recruits or contractors, given their familiarity with the organisation as well as industry. 

At the same time, employee connections are thereby cultivated through such flows of talent, knowledge, skills and industry know-hows unique to the organisation. One bird three stones. 

 

Enabling Employee Opportunity Discovery leads to Higher Retention, Stronger Collaboration and Engagement. 

This is the overarching benefit by facilitating employee opportunities to be circulated in an organisation freely. Market leader, Thomson Reuters, can vouch that it has worked for them. 

Also, in a study by Quantum Workplace, employees listed professional growth opportunity as one of their highest drivers of engagement. Conversely, exiting employees listed a lack of growth opportunity as the second-highest reason for leaving. So if you notice you have low retention, it is probably worth looking into how you manage talent. 

In fact, when this employee opportunity discovery is implemented, it goes both ways. 

To the employee, it shows that s/he is allowed to grow at work, which gives him/her the confidence that s/he can achieve beyond the job description. Its benefits permeate into many more, including showing employees that the organisation cares for them, and are in it for the long haul. 

 

Employee Opportunity = More bang for your buck = Competitive Advantage 

Companies in the ‘90s were asking, “Why are we developing our employees when our competitors are?” 

However, in today’s crowded landscape, rivals may find it difficult to compete against an organisation whose employees are not only expanding their talents but also becoming increasingly loyal to the opportunity to do so. 

Bang for your Buck. Employee Opportunity leads to Employee Engagement, result in higher business performance.

Hence, as we steer away from the traditional views of providing employee opportunities for development, the new norm to ‘employee opportunity’ can allow the workforce to become more competitive, loyal, knowledgeable, and skilled in the long term. 

 

Nurture The Culture Of Growth And Let Employees To Find Opportunities For Themselves.

This arrangement can allow employees to sharpen their skills and knowledge, encourage an agile workforce as they seek to upskill and/or reskill through stretch assignments that they are interested in! 

The best part? Providing employees with opportunities is mutually beneficial. That is, employees get to feel more competent. And employers get to have more competent employees. 

 

So what are you waiting for? 

By all means, you should let your employees know that they are not cuffed to their positions at all times. As a leader, show them that you are committed to employee’s own growth and providing that opportunity that they would like to pursue.

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