Learning and Development programs have exploded in recent years as organizations and workers adjust to new processes, working styles, and industries created by the recent pandemic. Many jobs have disappeared entirely, others have gone remote or fundamentally changed, and other fields (like manufacturing and logistics) are desperate for workers. At the same time, many workers are reassessing what they want out of their careers and quitting, moving, or retraining themselves to achieve their goals.
This environment, with job hopping and workers shifting around so quickly (and until very recently, an extremely tight labor market) has made learning and development a high priority for companies of all types. Linkedin’s Workplace Learning report for 2021 found that L&D programs had grown significantly, and upskilling and reskilling in particular were top priorities for executives as they tried to fill new gaps in the workforce efficiently, retain valuable workers, and avoid hiring costs. Here are some specific data points from that report:
- Top-of-mind priorities are: upskilling and reskilling (59%), leadership and management (53%), and virtual onboarding (33%).
- 51% of L&D pros say that internal mobility is more of a priority now than before COVID-19, with employees at companies with high internal mobility staying almost 2x longer. Since COVID-19, internal hires make up a greater share of all hires.
- Nearly two-thirds (64%) of L&D pros globally — and nearly three-quarters (73%) in North America — report that their executives have made Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) programs.
Two tools for companies expanding their L&D program are measuring Quality of Hire and building Predictive Talent Models. Quality of Hire (QoH) is a metric that measures the impact that new hires have on the organization. Predictive Talent Models analyze highly successful employees at an organization and highlight attributes that make them most likely to stay and perform. This data can then be used to inform the company’s hiring and recruiting strategy. Both of these provide data that can improve L&D programs and help companies shift to more skills-based and internal hiring. I see three specific ways that this happens:
- Reskilling or Upskilling:
Measuring Quality of Hire is a data-backed way for measuring the skills and behavioral traits of an organization’s current employee base to see how well new candidates align with the teams they will be joining. This data shows the strengths and gaps of the organization’s current workforce and allows L&D pros to pick out areas they need to improve on. For example, if current workers lack experience with a certain piece of software, or tend to struggle with taking initiative, L&D can tailor their educational offerings to fill these gaps.
Measuring QoH and building predictive talent models also involves collecting data on new hire’s working styles, hard skills or proficiencies, and career interests, as well as “outcome data” on how well they perform and how aligned they are with their new role. You can read more about how Searchlight automates this process here. This data shows what skills new employees are interested in, or what talents they might have that could be nurtured. This can help the L&D team offer options that fit these needs. It gives them the ability to match employees who want to pursue new career paths with opportunities that fit them.
The L&D process starts with onboarding. The more the company can engage their new employee in their first 90 days, the more likely they’ll be to stay and thrive. A recent study found 52% of new hires are actively looking for new opportunities within their first 90 days, and an effective, personalized onboarding process is the key to preventing turnover.
The data I mentioned above on a new hire’s working styles, goals, strengths and gaps can be a manager’s secret weapon to a better onboarding experience and accelerated time-to-productivity. A Predictive Talent Model of who a person is and how they align with what makes people great in an organization allows managers to understand how to set them up for success. Within a distributed workforce where a manager may not be onboarding a new hire in person, this understanding is critical for effective assimilation into the team and culture. To understand progress, measuring Quality of Hire within 60 to 180 days allows manager and L&D managers to see whether a new hire is on track on factors like ramp speed, belonging, and engagement. Having early signals of future performance and attrition allows organizations to course-correct as needed.
- Focus on skills-based hiring
Hiring based on skills, rather than education and past experiences, helps companies adapt to the changing work environment more nimbly. It also makes hiring more diverse and ultimately more effective. More importantly in the short term, it makes it possible for employees with transferable skills to switch career tracks more easily. For example, people working in recruiting have many of the skills needed to do well in sales, and many people working in sales have the skillset to thrive in customer success. Focusing on skills when writing job descriptions and conducting interviews helps employers to identify these people and fill important roles even if candidates with traditional backgrounds for those roles are difficult to find.
Predictive Talent Models uncover the skills and behavioral traits that help candidates succeed in a given role. This makes it easier to base hiring decisions off of skills and traits instead of education and experience. Part of the reason hiring teams rely on education and past work experiences to evaluate candidates (even though these create problems with bias) is because skills and behavioral traits are more difficult to measure. Predictive Talent Models enable them to focus on skills over resumes, and encourage more diverse candidates from nontraditional backgrounds. This also makes it easier for L&D teams to know what types of training they need to provide to get candidates ready for in-demand roles.
Finally, QoH gives employers the data they need to put this new approach to hiring into practice, and to be effective at it. Looking at the QoH metric over time measures if this new approach to hiring is working, which will be important to justify it to internal stakeholders.