Growing Your Own – A Staffing Strategy for a Tight Labor Market

Kristi Pronovost Merit Shop Spokesman Blog

By: Jim Weischedel: Human Resources Consultant at Samaritan Business Consulting

It is no secret that many organizations are having difficulty filling staffing vacancies, especially highly skilled positions. The unemployment rate is very low (around 4.3% nationally through July 2017). Many organizations are also growing and expanding, and employees are remaining with their company on average for a shorter period of time. Whereas my parents’ generation stayed with their employer to “collect their gold watch”, the average employee tenure these days is 4.6 years (source US DOL Bureau of Labor Statistics 2016).

Whether it is difficult to find new employees or not, it is best to keep the good ones that you have. But how does an organization do that? It is a big undertaking, which includes a lot of factors. One important factor is developing employees and leaders.

With all else being equal between an employee’s current position and employer and a potential other one (e.g., pay, responsibility, benefits, etc.), an employee’s “engagement” level may help to determine if the employee will stay and how hard they will work. Companies like Gallup and others measure employee engagement. The research typically identifies several engagement elements. One of those elements is the employee is making progress in their career, learning, and acquiring new skills. They can see a career path for themselves within their organization, or if they are content in their current role, they are still learning and growing. Making career progress and seeing a bright future are powerful motivators for many people.

Organizations that are more intentional about developing their employees will be more effective. It doesn’t usually “just happen.” Organizations can start by creating a competency profile for each position within the company. Competencies are the knowledge, skills, and attitudes required to give an employee the best chance for success in a role. Next, organizations can create career paths. Career paths are logical steps of progression to get from one position to another. It can be a supervisory job, but doesn’t necessarily need to be. A development plan can be created to identify the training and development steps and goals for someone to improve their competencies in their current role and plan for the future. Growing your own can be a win-win, as employers are filling a potentially difficult staffing placement and engaging their workforce at the same time!

Developing leaders is also critical to organizations. An employee’s front-line supervisor has a big impact on them. You may have heard the old phrase “people leave supervisors, not companies.” According to Gallup, “managers account for 70% of the variance in employee engagement.” So, leadership selection is very important. When new supervisors are chosen from within, it is typically because they are the best or most technically skilled employee in their department. Make sure they also have the ability to be good leaders. Be sure to give the new supervisor training and support right away to give them the best chance for success.

It takes time and energy to grow your own, but it is usually well worth it.


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Developing Skilled Labor and Leaders: Growing Your Own

October 6, 2017 / 8:00 am – 11:00 am
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