This posting is the first in a series of articles to discuss viable strategies to make greater use of the skills, talents and abilities of currently employed workers. What do 40 percent of Canadian university graduates aged 25 to 34 have in common with 51 percent of American Millennials? They’re stuck in situations of underemployment. To drive home how serious the underuse of skills is in the United States a full 12 percent of the overall working population reporting being underemployed.
Here’s how organizations can engage their younger employees and help them find ways to showcase their skills, talents and abilities.
Stop “Peak Conversation” by Opening Up Nebulous Problems
Peak conversation is something that happens all too often. The manager approaches the same people for a solution. This core team is so used to one another that they keep rehashing the same conversation, the same ideas over and over again. The solution to peak conversations is to continuously encourage new and different dialogues with all sorts of people.
Businesses operate in complex and challenging environments. Some problems are operational, others environmental, still others systems-related. When there isn’t an obvious person with specific technical skills or knowledge needed to address a problem, start crowdsourcing the problems inside the company. It can be as easy as setting up a project in a virtual platform with a problem statement. Send out an email asking for input. Then mix up teams and rotate interested personnel to implement the solutions.
Many people are bored stiff at their jobs. Some employees, when given the opportunity to participate, will jump on the opportunity to do something different, showcase their talents, and think critically.
Encourage Career Development Through Business Development
Ask your employees which skills and talents they would like to use more often in the workplace. Explain the company’s mission and strategic objectives and ask them how they can apply a wider range of their abilities and skills within the framework provided. They might not have an answer right away or maybe the company can’t accommodate their suggestions right now, but keep the dialogue open. Have both managers and willing employees actively look for opportunities to develop skills, engage in more challenging work, and apply specialized knowledge.
There are many opportunities to harness the unused potential of your employees. It’s a question of recognizing that there’s tremendous opportunity in having these kinds of conversations. An engaged workforce that sharpen its skills on a daily basis through the work it’s conducting will help raise productivity, improve morale, and generate opportunities.
Support Talent, Perception, and Creativity
Ideas and improvements come from a multitude of places. Encourage broader participation and a wider range of voices when designing solutions. When everyone has a say in improving a service or rectifying an issue, the end result tends to be better. Stomp out cliques and clans within the workplace by encouraging everyone to bring their talents, perceptions, and creativity to the table.
Businesses and national economies will improve only when there is innovation, new product development, restored confidence, and a shift in operations. Managers can be at the forefront of these transformations, which begin with the realization that employees are more than the daily responsibilities they carry out. They bring with them talents, passions, different experiences, and a wealth of underused skills and potential. Companies that want to remain successful will do well by tapping into this massive pool of underutilized talent.
I encourage you to share your insights and experiences on this topic. If you’ve implemented a suggestion, please let me know how it goes. In the meantime, stay tuned for more in-depth analysis into each of these suggestions as well as other strategies.