How to awaken the sleepy talent in your workforce

Written by Nelson Sivalingam, CEO and founder at HowNow

We’ve all heard of the term ‘career sleepwalkers’, where workers are unsure of their next step, or feel stuck where they are, carrying out the everyday tasks of their job on autopilot. LinkedIn recently found that 37% of employees — and nearly half of those aged 35 to 44 — have no sense of professional direction.

Evidently, business leaders need to be aware of how to awaken workers from their ongoing progression slumps and encourage employees to reconsider their career plans. Savvy employers can utilise career sleepwalking as a chance to engage employees by investing in their upskilling and providing guidance for routes towards more rewarding careers.

Give your employees what they need

Workers will get frustrated and disengaged if they feel they are not being provided with the tools they need to do their jobs effectively. If your technology is not current, workers are more likely to feel their company is not investing in them or providing them with the best methods to perform to the best of their abilities.

Ensure you are updating your platforms, and keeping abreast of new technology where you can. If upgrades or new technology are outside your business’ budget, consider sending workers onto external training on cutting-edge systems to demonstrate that you value their skill sets.

Facilitate upskilling opportunities

Research shows that workers are incredibly open to career development, and indeed are actively interested in it; a report found 93% of employees would stay at a company longer if it invested in their careers.

Business leaders should leverage this appetite for development by providing personalised training opportunities that are meeting the needs of the employee as well as the business.

A one-size-fits-all training approach is unlikely to engage your workers or make them feel they are being invested in. Instead, businesses should show they are taking into account workers’ individual needs, wants and talents and giving them the opportunities to advance themselves. Consider employees’ long-term goals and set them up with ways of meeting those goals; this demonstrates longer-term investment in your workforce.

To ensure that employees are actively interested in their work, it is also important that business leaders create an environment that encourages continuous learning. You can establish this culture by enabling workers to carry out self-directed learning using integrated learning platforms powered by AI, which can curate and recommend learning to suit specific business goals as well as individual needs. You can also use these online training suites to allow workers to learn at their own rates and return to previous information when needed, learning at the speed of need.

Such platforms can also be used to help you better understand your people and pinpoint their knowledge gaps before you offer training opportunities. This means you’re better equipped to help your workforce, and can make smart, data-driven decisions on how to upskill and reskill employees.

Communicate well

To keep workers feeling connected and engaged within their roles, it is important to communicate effectively and regularly. As well as training sessions, businesses should ensure they are using memos, newsletters and FAQs to convey new information as well as to provide frequent updates on the state of play of various areas of the company.

These help all employees to feel in the loop and gives them an understanding of the various processes ongoing within the company, which in turn aids them in better comprehending where their day-to-day tasks fit in within the wider business.

Regular meetings should also be encouraged to impart your vision to your workers. Ensure that you are presenting information in an engaging manner that encourages input from employees who are able to ask questions if they need. It is also vital to create a culture of communication, so that managers and workers can share common goals and discuss ways of reaching them together.

Seek their input and guidance

Work to involve your workers in shaping their own learning and development, as this will ensure your workforce feels more empowered and in control of their own opportunities. Make sure you are seeking their input and looking for ways they can contribute ideas.

In doing so, employees will feel more involved in projects and more invested in the outcome of their work. This will serve to empower and motivate disengaged workers, while also helping new ways of working to develop.

Implement incentive programmes

Bringing incentive programmes into a company can help to provide sleepwalking employees with an opportunity to change their behaviour and involve themselves more deeply in their work— a study found incentive programmes improved worker engagement by 15%. You must make sure that any incentives are based on performance and that incentives are goals-based so that you can encourage continuous learning.

Employees are also likely to work harder if they feel they are being rewarded, so your business is more likely to benefit from increased productivity, with workers more frequently reaching targets; the same study found performance could be increased by 22% in individuals and 44% in teams through incentive programmes.

Provide aspirations

Involve your workers in your business goals. The setting of annual, quarterly and monthly goals provides employees with a tangible aim that is guaranteed to engage. Workers enjoy learning how they fit in with the wider company, and how their work affects the business. Be transparent about the company’s short and long-term aims where possible, so workers can understand the reason behind each goal and share a common aim.

Career sleepwalkers are more likely to leave your company, and to be less productive during their working day when they’re present; 67% of millennials say they would leave if their job presented a lack of growth opportunities and avenues for development. Hiring new workers is more costly for the company and meanwhile your business has suffered from a loss of productivity.

The business benefits of working to ensure your employees are engaged and satisfied in the workplace are clear; the best solution is to keep your workers happy by providing the tools and opportunities they need to carry out their jobs effectively and upskill themselves for the future. In doing so, you are not only investing in the development of your workforce, but in the way forward for the company itself.