Preparing a future-ready workforce through individual focus

Investing in employees’ career development skills empowers them and conveys that leaders view their team members as a critical part of the future.

As we enter 2023, we know employees are extremely interested in their career growth and development. According to the 2022 LinkedIn Learning Skills Advantage Report, opportunities to learn and grow are the No. 1 factor that people say defines an exceptional work environment.

We also know that many companies are preparing for a future that requires reduced spending, including reductions in force, due to ongoing supply chain issues, the economy and industry-specific challenges. While there may be pockets of development opportunity resulting from these changes, the adjustments companies are making to address business challenges do not signal career growth and development opportunities to the average employee. Instead, they conjure concern about career growth and potential.

Preparing a future-ready workforce is unique to each company. The growth plan, degree of innovation, and financial stability are just some of the factors that must be taken into consideration. However, if preparedness is focused solely on a company’s needs, leaders miss the opportunity to fully engage team members. In 2023, savvy leaders will consider the uniqueness of the individual team members they are preparing for the future.

Preparing a future-ready workforce with a win-win approach

In 2023, giving team members the space and resources for individual career development will be an effective way for leaders to demonstrate they care about the employee experience. Furthermore, because career development goes beyond current/next role, and can have both short- and long-term benefits, employees view this type of support as prioritizing their needs vs. solely focusing on the company’s needs. This approach supports a company’s development and retention efforts simultaneously. 

Mutually beneficial outcomes:

  • When employees learn how to manage their career, they are more likely to seek out development opportunities, make efforts to understand the business and identify opportunities to upskill or stretch to meet the company’s business needs. In addition to gaining skills and experience, employees feel proud and accomplished for fulfilling their development strategy.
  • When managers are trained to support career development and empower employees to take ownership of their professional experience, employees start pushing themselves vs. managers pulling them along.
  • Empowering team members to influence their career and professional work experiences, drives ownership, focus and confidence, which ultimately benefits overall company performance.
  • Developing a career growth mindset within your workforce increases talent agility and minimizes stagnation. 

How to focus on career growth when the future is uncertain

Some companies shy away from the topic of career development in the workplace because they do not have defined career paths or they want to minimize employee expectations about promotions. 

Below is a sampling of career development topics for employees to explore and develop in, which they can do in a way that reflects their uniqueness. These are development focus areas that generate a forward-looking path, regardless of the maturity of a company’s formal career paths or role change opportunities. 

  • Developing relationships with mentors, coaches, peers and leaders
  • Building self-confidence
  • Developing presence
  • Defining purpose
  • Seeking feedback
  • Understanding motivators
  • Leveraging strengths

Career growth and development training is an effective way to prepare a workforce for the future. Preparing a workforce for the future requires helping employees see that they can grow their career with their employer, which is highly motivating. When business changes signal that may not be possible, individual career growth and development opportunities are always relevant.