How to Engage Employees? Draw them a Map

innovative companies
What does your learning and development strategy look like? Was it designed as a one-size-fits-all strategy that addresses your workforce as a single entity? Or is it flexible and designed to shift with the specific people and demographics that are experiencing it?

In the current talent era it's important - critical, actually - for your strategy to do the latter.

Our workplaces are evolving. We feel it in terms of the way people work (so often today
remotely), and how they approach their careers. People no longer stay in a single job for the life of their profession.  There are key inflection points that drive whether we retain or lose team members; pivotal moments that require all of us in human services to pay attention and align what we do to where they are in their personal journeys.

Illustrating the Employee Development Story

This is especially true for those of us who work in Learning and Development. We know employees want to grow careers. Research tells us it's not only essential to ensuring that we as organizations have the skills we need; it's also the key element that determines whether or not our employees stay or go. Research shows that nearly 50% more Millennials prioritize professional development in a job than pay raises, illustrating just how important growth is.

Yet there's a sense that development in many talent strategies is defined as just one thing that needs to appeal to employees organization wide. In other words, put your programs out there and let employees decide what to embrace. But it needs to be more calculated than that. To be effective in both giving the most to and getting the most from people, we need to tailor what we offer and how we offer it to connect to where people are in their careers - to what they value and need at this moment in their lives to ensure their growth and development.

Engage Employees Throughout Their Careers

Let's look at this within the typical life-cycle of an employee, and think about ways to creatively align the learning approach at each stage.

When your employee wants you to...

Attract Me

With so many resources available to employees to "shop" jobs - and growth at the top of their checklists - employees need to clearly see opportunities. Are there internal trainings or workshops you can extend outside of your organization to build your brand? Is your website and your social media strategy set up to support this?

Get Me Started

Employees who are onboarding are craving cultural connections with each other, with other employees, and with the organization; they also need to learn the job and get up to speed quickly. Learning needs to be both easy to access and available on the go. Self-paced, prerecorded learning with in-person and virtual cohorts  provide both - connecting people to skills; and connecting them to other people, even when they're working virtually, and so not locally connected to each other.

Develop Me/Help Me Succeed

Many (dare day most) people who are established in your organization are thinking about what comes next for them. And as we know in the current talent landscape, up is not the only way to go. How can you expose these people to other parts of your organizational ecosystem? What types of educational opportunities - internal programs versus external degrees and certifications - are available, and how are you mentoring and guiding people to make those decisions? As learning and development processionals, we are responsible for equipping managers with the language and resources to develop their employees.

At Bright Horizons, we run regular informational webinars where we map out all learning and development opportunities available to a Bright Horizons employee - from internal leadership development programs, to tuition assistance degree and certification opportunities, to trainings to go, podcasts and micro-learning that is available at the push of a button online.  Tell employees their development story and they will stay.

Creating Maps for Your Entire Workforce

The above needs to take into account more than your most ambitious people. Many of us also have employees who are good performers and who by choice (and in their own voice) have told us that they are not interested in career growth or transitions.  These employees still need development opportunities.  They still need to enhance their performance, and remain engaged in their functional areas and with your organization.  Think of meaningful ways, either through conferences or mentoring or coaching opportunities to engage employees and help them thrive.

At Bright Horizons, we've left none of this to chance. Our development strategy includes not only educational opportunities, but also talent maps for specific career trajectories that guide how people move through our company and their careers, touching people at these key inflection points. Organizational change is one of the biggest challenges to our workplaces. Evolving learning and development strategies is one way we can keep up, and enjoy the ride.  
Bright Horizons
About the Author
Bright Horizons
Bright Horizons
In 1986, our founders saw that child care was an enormous obstacle for working parents. On-site centers became one way we responded to help employees – and organizations -- work better. Today we offer child care, elder care, and help for education and careers -- tools used by more than 1,000 of the world’s top employers and that power many of the world's best brands
innovative companies

Subscribe to the On the Horizon Newsletter