The 'career curiosity' mental shift that the Great Resignation is forcing

As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to strain hiring and recruiting efforts for companies, some chief human resources officers and management leaders say the secret to outcompeting industry rivals is investments in upskilling and reskilling employees. Heidi Brooks, a professor at the Yale School of Management, said at CNBC's Workforce Executive Council Summit in November that companies need to set learning as an objective to recruit and retain talent."The orientation has been a lot of companies thinking, 'You get to work here.' Now the shift is more in the direction of, 'We get to have employees.' That's a pretty big perspective shift for a lot of leaders and managers," Brooks recently told CNBC. "Especially in some of the elite companies that people have been really yearning to be part of. It's a little bit of a shock to them to have to switch their perspective and be in recruiting-and-retention mode as an ongoing basic perspective."Although upskilling — teaching employees additional skills, such as technical capabilities as well as interpersonal, organizational and self-management skills — is not a new concept for companies, investing in employees has gained increased attention as more companies use education to win talent."There's a lot of concern about the Great Resignation, people switching jobs and having some sense of agency in their work. There's a question of how organizations and leaders can reasonably respond to that sense of pressure," Brooks said. "One of the ways to respond is by offering educational opportunities through upskilling."Investments in education can not only attract new talent, but it can help retain workers on the verge of burnout, which has been exacerbated by the pandemic."If companies can invest in people learning and growing, their best people will stay longer and part of that is not burning out their best people," said Henry Albrecht, chief executive officer at Limeade, a corporate solutions company that offers tools to transform workspaces and improve employee wellbeing. Overall, employees want their needs recognized and wellbeing prioritized, Albrecht said. When companies invest in upskilling, education and learning, it shows workers that they're valued."When people perceive that their organization cares about them, they're seven times more likely to want to stay three or more years, and they're four times less likely to burn out and feel that they can't participate," said Albrecht, citing a 2019 Limeade Institute report that looked at employee experiences. One concern that many companies and HR chiefs have about upskilling is whether the investment leads to greater employee retention. Marcus Bryant, the managing principal at Vantage Custom Solutions, a human resource management and diversity training consultancy firm, said this concern should not discourage companies from investing in their employees, and it can make companies more attractive to employers.

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