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…So this morning I stumbled upon a workforce planning piece on Mercer Insights. The piece was particularly interesting to me because of a case study at the end that read like a day in the life of every Generalist I’ve ever known. The situation was as follows (emphasis mine):

A health care group developed a business plan to meet the increasing needs of its surrounding communities but discovered the plan would require substantial increases in the number of therapists, technicians, and nurses…

…Looking externally, the health care group discovered that within the immediate area, it already employed 50% to 70% of the workforce for the three types of critical labor. Farther out from its ideal geographic scope, the organization found a solid supply of needed workers. However, the 40- to 60-minute commute posed many barriers, including a probable higher turnover rate and higher costs associated with attracting and retaining these workers. Looking internally, a labor market analysis revealed that career development was limited, as evidenced by lackluster lateral mobility and low rates of promotion, and that the majority of talent was hired from the outside.

You can check out the full piece here (recommended for the solutions at the end), but I shared the case study this morning because less than a two sentences in I found myself again thinking “this company doesn’t have an adequate internal talent pipeline and are probably paying through the nose to attract local, in demand talent externally.”

Developing people internally would intuitively seem to be one of the easiest talent challenges to address, though. Build some low knowledge transfer roles into key departments and regularly rotate talent through them. Have HR Business Partners and Managers sit down with and carve out 18 monthish development plans with their people (this is important because most people don’t know what they want or how to get there). Give talent the tools to accomplish those plans by identifying cost effective course offerings (online and/or local) that they can take to develop competencies, and partner with other Managers in other departments to do talent swaps that get people cross-departmental project experience. If there are skills that the organization really needs, identify high-performers that would be interested in the training (which you know of because of the development plan / talent talks you had) and train people in-house using existing resources and / or local and online educational programs.

The reasons for making these investments are compelling. According to a recent CareerBuilder survey, of the *21%* of people who plan on leaving their jobs this year, 45% of them plan to leave because they are dissatisfied with advancement opportunities at their current companies. That’s almost 10% of the workforce. Wow.

…But instead of developing people, many organizations would prefer to pay outrageous sums (including sign-ons, relocation, headhunter fees etc.) to hire external talent that will take longer to get up to speed and are more likely to leave the organization than internal people developed and promoted into the same roles.

…And for the record, I am not saying external hiring is bad. External hires are great for organizations because they bring in new ideas / knowledge and often add diversity to their new company’s cultures. But come on. What am I missing here?

What am I missing here?

Readers, what are your organizations doing to develop people internally? What are the challenges they’re facing? What should they be doing differently, and what would make the development process easier?

As always, please share your thoughts in the comments below.