Is professional development the key to recruiting and retention in today's tight labor market?

By Valerie Utsey

Aug. 23, 2022

The current worker shortage is creating real economic impacts across all industries. According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, there are 3.4 million fewer Americans working today compared to February of 2020. Companies are grasping for answers on how to tackle this nationwide labor shortage and one solution is professional development.

However, it’s important to recognize that companies that invest in professional development programs witness benefits in both recruitment and retention. One-third of participants would be motivated to stay at a company if offered more career advancement opportunities (34%) and access to more training and skill development (32%), according to Axonify’s 2021 Annual Global State of Frontline Work Experience Study.

Strengthening Recruitment

By utilizing professional development resources, companies can hire candidates who may not possess required skills but are the right cultural fit. The ability to train potential team members in their desired field or position expands the diversity of the candidate pool and improves the chances of finding the perfect match for your company’s needs and shape your team into the best lineup for your company’s future.

Investing in Career Growth, Retention

On the retention side, companies should be leveraging professional development to increase skills across the team to address staff shortages and burnout, while also tying it to increased promotional opportunities. With regular professional development opportunities, your team will be motivated to learn and grow within the company. Hiring up instead of out is also a great boost to morale and performance and eases the strain on your recruitment team. Giving staff the ability to develop their talents ensures the team has the necessary skills to perform current and future work demands. It also demonstrates something extremely valuable--your commitment to your staff’s professional development and career aspirations which, in turn, inspires dedication from your team.

Looking Forward

Professional development is becoming the differentiator for employers with a focus on finding ways to reinforce training through direct on-the-job experience. Professional development now looks like reverse mentoring, microlearning (short how-to videos for job sharing), a focus on professional skills like creating initiative and complex problem solving, and informal learning opportunities like focus groups for information sharing.

With a plethora of solutions within reach, shifting workplace culture toward one of growth, continuous learning, and a people-first mentality is a proven strategy for combating the effects of labor shortages and The Great Resignation.

ICBA’s LEAD FWD Summit is a great example of how community banks can leverage the benefits of professional development opportunities. As an industry-defining event for mid-to-senior level community bankers, attendees gain a deeper understanding of the industry, learn how to incorporate today’s trends into their own practices, and work with other community bankers who are not direct competitors to explore new banking strategies. Discover more on this phenomenal learning opportunity and invaluable information for community banks here.

I am co-presenting a session at LEAD FWD and am excited to discuss how and why creating a culture that prioritizes professional development is a winning strategy for organizational success. I look forward to sharing my experiences with community bank leaders in attendance as we cultivate tomorrow’s leaders so we can all create and promote an environment where community banks flourish.