Setting up corporate education programme that attracts top talent

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Written by Armin Hopp on 12 January 2017

Corporate education programmes are vital to organisations seeking to attract and retain talent in a competitive marketplace. Millennials, for example will soon account for more than 50 per cent of employees and as the generational composition of the workforce is shifting, so too are the expectations and motivations of employees. Most Millennials are not satisfied with a remuneration package alone; they want to feel that they will be coached and developed to their full potential. This is true as much for attracting high performers of differing age groups, as it is for keeping them within the organisation. The ability to develop a multi-generational workforce and offer global mobility is a big differentiator in the war for talent.

Employee engagement levels flat lining

Despite an increasing focus on engagement as a key factor in employee retention and productivity, the indications are that organisations are doing little to improve employee engagement levels. Gallup daily tracking interviews conducted with 80,844 US employees1 categorised workers as ‘engaged’ based on their ratings of elements such as ‘having an opportunity to do what they do best each day, having someone at work who encourages their development and believing their opinions count at work’. It found that the percentage of workers who seemed to be engaged in their work has crept up only marginally – from 31.5 per cent in 2014 to 32 per cent in 2015.

Many organisations have sophisticated training programmes in place – so what is going wrong? Here we provide some tips for organisations looking to develop a more effective corporate education strategy:

  1. Adapt learning delivery to reflect the way people now access information as they need it on their mobile device. Organisations and their learning functions have to re-invent themselves to catch up with the way learners consume information outside of work. The consumerisation of the workplace is well underway – for example many workers bring their own devices to work, yet this has not always extended to learning and development. It is important to move away from the status quo and reject the attitude that ‘we’ve always done it this way’.
  1. Provide a variety of learning and development modalities so that learners can choose what works best for them. Engage learners with tools that match their needs, from traditional face-to-face mentoring, to e-learning for self-paced, on-the-job development. Consider setting up virtual classrooms for online collaboration, enabling colleagues to support each other’s learning and facilitating online coaching.
  1. Assess your workforce to identify high potential employees. These are distinct from high performance employees. High potential employees may not be topping the sales leagues but they will have the soft skills that predict effective leadership. From there, design learning programmes to turn these people into the organisation’s future leaders. Don’t be afraid to be transparent about this process, as it will help motivate talented people who can see that the organisation supports success.
  1. Foster employee driven personal learning and growth to promote ‘constructive non-conformity’. To give employees the freedom to do their best work, it may well be necessary to promote a culture of innovative and dissenting behaviours in the workplace, according to Francesca Gino in her report ‘Let your workers rebel’.2In one study, Gino reports, “Workers who felt they could express their authentic selves at work were, on average, 16 per cent more engaged and more committed to their organisations than those who felt they had to hide their authentic selves.” Developing language and communication skills can help with this.
  1. Focus on developing soft skills such as negotiating skills as well as vocational skills. Emotional intelligence may be partly innate but may be developed by the right training programme. Language and communication skills are core to leadership and are at the heart of creating a flexible and adaptable workforce and these skills may certainly be taught.

Employees, especially talented individuals with high aspirations, need to feel that the organisation will invest in their development and offer learning and development that will get them to where they want to be. Organisational failure to demonstrate an ability and willingness to deliver innovative, customised training will disengage existing employees and drive potential talent to your competitors.





About the author

Armin Hopp is the Founder and President of Speexx. For more information, visit

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