It’s a job seekers' market with no signs of abetting. Resignations have averaged more than 4 million per month in the U.S. over the past year, yet finding qualified candidates for open positions is harder than ever. Even if you do find the right fit, hiring and training are expensive and time-consuming—making retention a critical initiative for maintaining the quality of products and services that customers expect.
Organizations that want to retain their top talent need to invest in employee empowerment. More than just providing pizza in the breakroom or general opportunities for advancement, empowerment means getting employees to feel they’re making a difference, working on challenging and rewarding projects, and, perhaps most importantly, investing time in a company that’s beneficial for their careers.
Career development conversations lead to loyalty and retention
Right Management released a study several years ago that shows how engaging employees about their career development helps an organization attract, engage, and retain the brightest talent. According to the study, employees want leadership to invest in their careers, help them make informed career decisions, and demand individual accountability for career growth. This requires organizations to “actively facilitate a learning journey designed to help employees develop new capabilities and knowledge while providing long-term career growth opportunities.” Since this survey, turnover has only increased.
Murielle Tiambo, a well-known workforce development consultant with PwC, agrees. She argues that it's critical for leaders to create space for regular and consistent trust-building conversations through which employees can be heard by their leaders. The discussions, she says, result in mutually beneficial relationships in which leaders can begin to get comfortable delegating responsibilities and employees can ask for appropriate help and advice, and share their resulting success stories.
Unfortunately, despite evidence that career development empowers employees and leads to retention, few organizations are actually following through. According to Mercer’s Global Talent Trends Report, only 12% of businesses in the U.S. plan to reward skill acquisition as a way to retain employees and execute on the organization’s mission.
It’s clear that employees feel empowered when they're given the authority and tools to drive their career development. But how can organizations empower employees in a way that’s genuine and helps the business execute on its mission?
Empower employees with digital credentials
Digital credentials are an efficient and effective way to create a culture of recognition in your organization that’s meaningful and relevant. More than just a repository of badges and certifications, an effective employee recognition program powered by digital credentials allows employees to communicate their achievements, exemplify their unique skills and knowledge, showcase their qualifications internally, reflect on their career development path, and promote and amplify their personal brand. At the same time, people managers gain critical insights they can use to guide professional pathways for succession planning and advancement while identifying and closing the skills gap. Working with employers to learn new skills and advance their career growth empowers employees, improves productivity, and enhances retention.
3 tips for using digital credential data to empower employees
Here are three tips for building an employee recognition program based on verified credentials for your organization:
1. Recognize internal badging and third-party credentials
An employee recognition program needs to include internal badging and third-party credentials. Certifications by industry groups, higher education institutions, and government regulators prove that employees have a certain skill that maps to a need within the organization.
Badges show that employees are constantly learning new skills while completing their day-to-day responsibilities and are able to grow while on the job. And don’t forget to badge for competencies that include so-called “soft skills” as well as technical skills to encourage the development of well-rounded employees through better communication and collaboration skills.
2. Make your credential program public and self-driven
Badges and credentials should be shared through a central learning portal and professional social networks such as LinkedIn to publicize recognition and encourage healthy competition. It’s also important to convey the fact that badges look great on a resume. While some may see this as incentivizing resignations for greener pastures, it’s up to the organization to prove it provides the best opportunity for career advancement—something that issuing badges reinforces.
3. Use credentials for internal advancement
Digital credentials should have a purpose. If the goal is to simply collect as many badges and certifications as possible, employees will soon lose interest and your employee recognition program will fail to catch on. It’s important that people managers show employees they're actually using credentials for project assignments and internal hiring purposes. This creates earnestness and incentives to earning badges and credentials—which, in turn, leads to a sense of value and empowerment.
Kick off your employee recognition program today
Retaining top talent at your organization requires a powerful employee recognition program that goes beyond empty gestures. Organizations are empowering employees through recognition programs based on verifiable credentials. In order to be successful, these programs need to include internal badging and third-party credentialing, be public and self-driven, and be used for internal advancement.