All talent development starts with a dream. Your childhood dream may have been to become an astronaut, police officer, teacher or doctor. By high school, perhaps you switched gears and started considering fields you didn’t know about in grade school. And then later, a few years after college, you found yourself working as a manager and considering the options in your current company — and opportunities elsewhere.
Our dreams change as we transition throughout our career, and our ultimate career goals shift as we explore our interests and hone our strengths. And part of this exploring for our employees — we hope — includes finding their next great job within our organization. How do we do this? I believe we have to help employees drive their own development how and where they want — which means creating the ultimate employee experience full of rich, personalized learning.
Creating the Ultimate Employee Experience: Getting Started
Every company has the potential to be a great place to work. How do we get there in a world where talent leaders are under crushing pressure to find and develop the best employees? All of us know that we must transition to new ways of working, and that comes with higher expectations from our employees.
These new expectations mean that our colleagues want us to deliver a “just for me” talent experience. It’s in these moments that an exceptional employee experience is born — and it’s what makes our people want to stay.
Here are three tips to deliver the ultimate employee experience.
1. Make Development the Big Thing
Your employees desire development opportunities, which means they want to improve their skills and capabilities. According to LinkedIn Learning’s “2018 Workplace Learning Report,” 68 percent of employees prefer to learn at work. And 94 percent of employees would stay at a company longer if it invested in their career.
Traditional learning courses aren’t designed to empower employees to rock their individual needs. Far from intuitive, the learning experience at many companies resembles an outdated website from early 2002 filled with dusty content no one needs. Your people are certainly not going to flock to something impersonal and clunky. That’s the opposite of an exceptional employee experience.
At Saba, we’re fond of saying that the learning experience is a strategy, not a product. Today’s learners don’t want a set schedule of classes and content offerings to check off a list. Instead, they have a take-charge mindset with their own development. If that sounds like your people, it’s time to put a learning strategy front and center. When organizations prioritize learning, it produces outcomes that matter to both the employee and the business.
2. Better Experiences Create Engaged Employees
You’ve likely heard about employee engagement pretty much everywhere but I’m coming at it from the employee perspective. I’m asking you to consider your learning experience: Is it engaging and personal? If the answer is “Not even close,” ask yourself (because your employees certainly are), why should anyone care?
By course-correcting and putting the learner at the center of the experience, we can start to work toward what they lack. Maybe the employee needs time away from their daily tasks to learn — or perhaps they would rather learn in the flow of work. Maybe it’s video that grabs their attention or personal learning content. You likely already have some amazing content in your organization and resources that could be tapped for live courses or “bite-sized” videos. Learning leaders have to start finding these resources and bringing them to their people with an aim for engagement.
Something to keep in mind when considering content from the learner’s perspective: The impact will be bigger if the material lines up with business goals. In other words, can the learner connect their personal goals to the company’s goals?
Think about the digital media you consume personally. Likely it’s well designed and intuitive (some examples are Spotify and YouTube). You may download books to your Kindle or order food from Grubhub. These technology platforms are all thoughtfully designed. Depending on which ones you use, you may feel an affinity to the brand because the experience of using it is enjoyable (or at least it delivers tacos to your front door!).
Your employees also want beautifully designed experiences in learning. They want to have learning delivered in the style they like best. Some of us are thrilled to consume videos to learn more, while others want to page through a technical manual. You might despise quick videos with lots of on-screen graphics while your colleague loves them. It’s up to HR leaders to discern our learners’ preferences and then offer it to them.
3. Craft Pathways for High-Potential Employees
As we center in on the “why” for learning strategy and consider ways to personalize the employee experience in learning, don’t forget that some employees are already one step ahead. These high-potential employees are asking themselves, “Where can I grow my career next?”
I’ve said before that I think learners have a right to be selfish. That’s a loaded word, but what I mean is that they have a right to ask, “What’s in it for me?” and “Where are the development opportunities that will take me to my next step?”
Remember that high-potential employees are different than high-performing employees. High-potential employees are the rising stars in your organization — they have the potential to do great things. A high performer can make the sale or deliver a killer presentation, but that doesn’t mean they are a high-potential employee.
Find ways for HiPos to pilot their own development and then create additional opportunities for self-reflection, such as meetings with industry leaders, conferences and retreats. What this doesn’t look like? Putting the high-potential on a companywide leadership council or other onerous task. Instead, let them create a definitive career path of their own choosing.
Part of creating the ultimate employee experience is aligning those experiences to individual, team and organizational goals. Show high-potentials the “why” behind the opportunities that are being presented to them. These conversations can happen within internal mentoring groups, self-driven coaching and manager one-on-one meetings.
Exceptional Experiences Help Them Stay
Today’s HR and learning and development leaders are being asked to find and develop talent so their organizations can compete in a relentless global economy. By helping employees drive their own development; crafting learning experiences designed to engage employees’ hearts and minds; and finding a way forward for high-potential employees, we can offer the ultimate employee experience for our people that can’t be beat. And it’s one that will encourage employees to look for their next job — right where they already are.