Employers Continue To Underinvest In Staff

Sit On Money

I’m sure you’ve been in a situation where a tasty vacancy has emerged in your organisation.  You quite fancy yourself for the role and do all you can to position yourself accordingly, only to be overlooked in favour of an external candidate (who, of course, is much less suitable for it than you!).

Do this now and then and maybe there isn’t much of a problem, but when bosses do this consistently it creates the impression that outsiders are valued more highly than existing employees.

A recent survey from outplacement services company Lee Hecht Harrison highlighted this as a particular gripe of employees today. They discovered that around a third of all employers believe their internal talent pipeline is either poor or even non-existent. Rather depressingly, just 4 percent of organisations believed their internal talent pipeline was top notch.

“The reality is that few organizations are confident about their internal talent development efforts or their ability to fill key skills gaps,” the company says. “It is increasingly difficult to find and recruit good people and this can vary significantly by geography, level, industry and skills. Building bench strength is a challenge.”

Should we be surprised?

This shouldn’t really come as much of a surprise though, especially given the poor level of investment in things like training and development since the recession struck in 2008. When you invest so little in your talent, it’s perhaps not much of a shock when your talent isn’t up to scratch.

This paucity of interest in employee development was reflected in the kind of conversations employers were having with staff. While nearly all were conducting annual performance reviews, only around half of employers were regularly holding informal chats with employees about their career development.

If you’re neither investing in your talent or giving your employees insights into where their careers could go, and how to go about getting there, it should surely come as no surprise when they aren’t knocking your door down for promotions.

“Employees need to know about opportunities for career advancement— how they can continue to learn and grow to meet the changing needs of the organization,” Lee Hecht Harrison say. “This requires regular coaching conversations between managers and employees related to the employee’s performance, development and career.”

The survey went on to reveal how this lack of investment is causing many employees to grow restless at the lack of real love being shown to them by their employer.

"Increasingly disengaged in their current roles, employees are poised to change jobs in hopes of moving their careers in more rewarding directions. They’re seeking new challenges and greater meaning. To retain high value employees, managers must step up and provide employees opportunities to grow in their roles and demonstrate a commitment to internal talent mobility. Without a plan or strategy for retention and development, organizations may lack the skills needed to fill key roles and face talent gaps that are becoming increasingly difficult to close,” the survey says.

While it’s understandable, to an extent, that during tough times organisations are cutting back on staff development. With many companies getting back into strong growth however, now is the time to really pick up investment in development again, especially as we’re increasingly moving into a talent driven marketplace.

Hopefully, surveys such as this one will provide organisations with the kind of wake up call needed to buck their ideas up. Alas, findings such as these have certainly not been in short supply over the years, so I won’t hold my breath.

Do you feel that there is no room for development or promotion in your current job? Would this cause you to change jobs in order to progress your career? Do you think this would be a bad thing for your company? Your thoughts and comments below please...