“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…”
That quote, from the opening to Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities, is an apt metaphor for spring 2022. Offices have re-opened. “In real life” meetings are on again. Vancouver’s downtown core is buzzing again after two years of auditioning for ghost town status. Truly, the best of times…assuming, that is, you were craving a return to the halcyon days of life before COVID.
If you’re an employer looking to recruit – the idea of returning to 2019 might be appealing. According to Statistics Canada’s April 2022 jobs report, the unemployment rate in BC in key areas – including business, finance, administration, education, and social and community services – was just 1.9%. It’s a seller’s market. And we’re seeing the effects: increasing pressure on compensation, expectations for more flexible work arrangements and more incentives to attract and retain skilled workers. Truly, the worst of times, especially if you’re a small business coping with the severest inflation spike since the late 1980s.
At Realize Strategies, we spent a lot of time during the pandemic looking at the rapidly changing dynamics of the labour market. We were seeing the trend toward a very different kind of labour market – one that is very close to the one that exists today. We talked to many of our clients to understand their challenges with recruitment and retention. We heard consistently that employers needed better access to professional development and training opportunities to help recruit and retain valuable employees.
The message we heard about professional development was an “aha moment” for us. We saw the potential to help purpose-driven employers tackle two problems at the same time. We could respond to the need for better professional development and training and, at the same time, provide a service to our clients that would help them address a growing problem.
That “aha moment” started us on our journey to create and launch RealizeU, a new professional development and training platform for purpose-driven businesses. Designed to help employers make smart investments in practical, hands-on professional development and training, it is part of a package of things that employers can offer to help recruit and retain highly in-demand employees in the most challenging labour market many of us have ever experienced.
Learning on the job makes workers feel valued and needed. It sends the message that companies see the importance of developing existing staff and giving them opportunities to move up, rather than just hiring people with “off the shelf” skills and experience. LinkedIn’s 2022 Global Talent Report found that employees believe professional development is the number one way to improve company culture.
An April 2022 Harvard Business Review article, “3 Ways to Boost Retention Through Professional Development” noted that investing in professional development is also good for business. Employees who receive professional development opportunities are 15% more engaged and have retention rates that are 34% higher than employees who don’t receive workplace training. The same article also notes that, according to Deloitte, retention rates are as much as 30% – 50% higher for employees who receive professional development and training.
So, the clear message is that professional development isn’t just good for employees. It’s a smart investment and a smart way to recruit and retain valuable employees in a wild and rapidly changing labour market.
That’s the mission of RealizeU: to help North America’s purpose-driven employers recruit, retain and grow the talent that will tackle the pressing challenges of recruitment today and tomorrow.
John Kay is the CEO and Executive Director at Realize Strategies.