Self-development builds staffing resilience during a talent crisis

The workforce landscape has become increasingly volatile, marked by emerging and ambiguous needs, a dearth of skilled talent, and reports of a ‘great resignation.’ How can your organization weather this turbulence? 

Our research-backed Future-ready Talent Framework outlines 4 clusters of essential skills for the future of work: 

woman talking to workers in front of computer
  • Expand and transfer expertise

  • Develop self

  • Build relationships

  • Design and deliver solutions

Understanding these competencies will help you identify, recruit, and retain the right talent your organization needs to succeed. We asked which of these clusters youve found most relevant to navigating the future of work, and 100% of respondents prioritized develop self. Great news because you can create a culture of self-development to attract, retain and grow talent, to build an adaptable and resilient workforce.

What is a lifelong learning mindset? 

We know that hard skills have a short shelf life; all of us will need to be lifelong learners – constantly upskilling and reskilling throughout our careers. While employers often speak of looking for workers that have a ‘love of learning,’ this is only one of the characteristics of a lifelong learner, along with self-reflection, self-direction and resilience. 

Why are lifelong learners critical to the success of your organization? 

Workers who embody these characteristics are proven to have increased performance, promotion, and satisfaction at work – all of which will help you retain talent. 

An organization staffed with lifelong learners who have the curiosity to explore new topics, the initiative to apply and transfer knowledge, and the self-reflection to identify strengths and gaps will enable your organization to remain flexible and adapt quickly to emerging needs. If you support internal mobility through retention, development, and redeployment of workers to new areas of need, you’ll find it mutually beneficial to the organization and your employees. And you will save your organization the immense costs of onboarding and offboarding employees due to reorganization or redundancy.  

How can you foster lifelong learning within your organization? 

You can attract and retain lifelong learners by providing (and advertising) learning opportunities and supports beyond required job-specific skills. Flexible, self-serve career development programs that appeal to individual strengths, interests, and gaps support self-direction (a shared value of employers and next generation talent), build self-awareness, and strengthen employee-employer relationships. 

A holistic and affordable way to access early-career lifelong learners and foster those characteristics among your existing workforce is to participate in work-integrated learning (WIL) programs, such as co-operative education. WIL inherently fosters a lifelong learning mindset in students by applying real-world skills and knowledge, built-in self-reflection components, and the resiliency and adaptability required to succeed in numerous and varied work experiences.  

Your workforce will also benefit from the reverse mentoring impact of WIL – on top of providing staff with supervisory and/or coaching experience, working with students and early-career talent often inspires established employees to upskill to stay current on new trends and technologies.  

Not only does WIL foster lifelong learning in students and employees, programs such as University of Waterloo’s co-operative education allow you to trial potential hires and begin to build relationships without the risks and costs associated with hiring unknown external candidates. 

Learn more about lifelong learning and the characteristics you need in your future workforce by attending our upcoming Future-Ready Workforce Series