Companies may not be investing enough in developing talent

Our survey results show that firms are not doing enough to identify and develop talent. Although nearly half say finding employees with base-level skills has an impact on their workforce strategy, fewer than one-quarter say their company offers education widely to employees.

Yet training and development initiatives would not just improve employee skills—they would also make the company a more attractive place to work. When asked what their ideal, but realistic, goal for their career in five years is, many employees focused on learning and development, both for personal satisfaction and advancement opportunities.

As the workforce becomes increasingly global, diverse, and flexible, companies will need to focus on developing, rather than recruiting, talent to be competitive—in the process, they’ll likely find their employees are more engaged and loyal, too.

Envy in the workplace

Though envy is a common emotion—especially as social media magnifies the successes and failures of our peers—it is rarely acknowledged in the workplace. How does our tendency to compare ourselves to others affect us at work? What contributes to these feelings, and what are the effects?  A recent article from Knowledge@Wharton looks into these questions and more.

According to Shimul Melwani, a professor at UNC’s Kenan Flagler Business School, “Envy is rife in the workplace because a large number of people work on teams with peers who are like us, but who are also competing with us for scarce resources…There are so many different dimensions on which we compare ourselves to others.”

Feelings of envy can be destructive, potentially leading employees to undermine each other or hindering effective collaboration. On the flip side, envy can be a tool for improving performance, motivating employees to match the success of their peers. Researchers suggest that management acknowledge the tendency to feel jealous of peers, and neutralize them by minimizing iniquities among team members and setting collective goals for the group—and, of course, recognizing that some competition can be a good thing. Unfortunately, our surveys suggest that such finely-tuned leadership skills may be beyond the grasp of many companies.

2020 Workforce news roundup

Congress and Biden Aim For Job Training That Actually Leads To Jobs (NPR): In an effort to streamline the US’s job training programs, Congress recently passed the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, which aims to improve the national workforce development system.

$240,000 Isn’t Enough?! Why Liberal Arts Majors Are Paying Extra to Learn Job Skills (Time): Some students at liberal arts colleges don’t feel they’re getting the job training they need at school and are taking supplemental training courses to make up for it.

The Hidden Downsides to Salary Transparency (Fast Company): According to Tim Low, vice president of PayScale, companies should be upfront about the methodology and technology used to determine employee compensation—but there can be drawbacks to total salary transparency.

2020 Workforce project update

This week, we’re analyzing the full data set for our big global program —survey responses from 2,700 employees and 2,700 executives in 27 countries—and isolating the key themes as well as variations by region, industry, age, and other factors.

In mid-August, we’ll be rolling out a research report and 27 country fact sheets ahead of the full launch of our research findings in September. (You can see an example of what the country fact sheets will look like on our SMEs: Equipped to Compete landing page).

We’ll continue to update here along the way with workforce news, key findings, and project information.


Regular communication fosters employee development, satisfaction, loyalty

Leadership and management are hot topics in the news as companies realize that talent is a strategic asset.

We’ve been talking on this blog about the preliminary results of our huge global survey—one of which is the lackluster leadership at many of the companies we surveyed. This recent article by Monique Valcour on the Harvard Business Review blog argues that great management requires a thorough understanding of what drives each member of the team—which includes regular, timely communication around development .

Our 2020 Workforce research points to a similar conclusion. Communication is essential to employee satisfaction and training—regular feedback and conversations around development not only close communication gaps between employees and executives, but also engender loyalty to the business.

According to Valcour, coaching employees will “build stronger bonds between you and your team members, support them in taking ownership over their own learning, and help them develop the skills they need to perform and their peak.” Beyond the benefits for the business and its employees, Valcour notes that the benefits of coaching extend to managers, who are likely to be more satisfied with and energized by the management process.

2020 Workforce news roundup

The 20 Best Jobs for Work-Life Balance (Business Insider): Work-life balance is becoming more of a priority for employees as new technology makes it easy for work to follow us home. According to a recent Glassdoor survey, employees in some professions may find the balance easier than others.

How instant feedback during an interview can change a career (Fast Company): Some companies are providing feedback during an interview—if a candidate doesn’t respond well in an interview, he or she may not respond well as an employee, either.

Search for talent in hotel’s front-desk position (The Malaysian Reserve): As tourism in Malaysia is expected to increase over the next few years, the hospitality industry is seeking front-desk talent with strong English and communication skills. Recruiting employees with English skills is a challenge, but many hotels are investing in English courses for their employees instead.

Just Whose Job is it to Train Workers? (Wall Street Journal): Many companies are struggling to find employees with the skills they need—but perhaps they should be investing in training and development instead of recruiting from an increasingly narrow pool of applicants.

Companies may not have the leaders they need for future growth

Preliminary results from our global 2020 Workforce survey show lackluster leadership at many companies. Executives cite a lack of adequate leadership as a major impediment to building a workforce to meet future business objectives, and only about half say leadership at their company has the skills to effectively manage talent.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, employees agree that leaders have much room for improvement. Fewer than half of employee respondents say leadership is equipped to lead the company to success, and many do not believe their leaders can lead a global, diverse workforce.

The workforce of the future will be increasingly diverse, mobile, multi-cultural, and multi-generational. To succeed, companies will have to cultivate leadership to effectively manage—and reap the full benefits of—these changes.