What is sustainable employability?
The simple definition: creating the right conditions for employees to have a long, healthy and happy career. By ensuring someone enjoys working, is healthy and motivated, he or she remains employable for a long time. And that in turn contributes to the achievement of goals of the organisation.
Walter Gietman, training manager at our Dutch brand USG People, has been training flex workers for the temporary employment sector for some time now. He explains: “We’ve noticed that an employee who receives the right training, personal attention and care, usually stays with an organisation for three times longer.”
Major shift in mindset
The focus on sustainable employability requires a major shift in the mindset and strategy of organisations. “Sustainable employability of personnel is not only the way forward from a human perspective, but also from an organisational perspective”, says Gietman. The USG People manager calls it a classic win-win situation. “Personal attention, training and development are essential to connect employees and to keep them interested. Make sure that people (continue to) have sufficient pleasure and challenge in their work.”
The following 5 points illustrate how an employer or manager can embrace and enable sustainable employability:
1. Sustainable employability is here to stay
Looking to the future – an ageing population, flexibilisation of work, robotisation - it is clear that sustainable employability is not a temporary hype. Gietman emphasises that the focus on sustainable employability must therefore be embedded in an organisation’s, policy, strategy and DNA.
2. Recognise talent in your own organisation
A common scenario: a company is looking for a new employee with specific skills and starts searching outside the company for new talent. It might well be a waste of resources, says Gietman. “There is often a lot of talent in the company who would like to have the opportunity to fulfil this new role and who have (or can develop) the right skills and competences. This means employers need to know what talent the organisation already has and how they can manage it effectively Gietman: “Make sure you keep a conversation going with your employees on how they see the future, what makes them really happy, and build on that by stimulating their talent.”
3. Keep talking, every day
Don't focus on periodical performance and evaluation interviews - although they are necessary - but be aware that you often learn more about people in a 'spontaneous' setting. If employees sense that every day is a good time for a conversation, you will get to know them better and be much more up to date with how they feel. And when you sit down for a formal discussion: put the employee in the driver’s seat. What do they want to contribute? How do they experience their work? The starting point is not the goals of the department or organisation, but the personal ambitions of the employee.
4. Be aware of the ROI of sustainable employability
Motivated employees who like their job, who are good at it and are confident, rarely call in sick and usually stay at your company for a long time. The return on investment (ROI) that this generates is many times more than the time you 'spend' on formal and informal discussions. Research shows that the return of investment is three times the amount an organisation invests.
5. Keep the big picture in mind
Sustainable employability starts with looking at each individual, but be aware of the overall benefits. These include higher quality of production, improvement of work performance, a better working atmosphere, higher productivity and organizational efficiency, prevention of sick leave and accidents, lower health costs, a strong employer brand and and less staff turnover.
First aid for sustainable employability
Once you have embraced sustainable employability, how do you start as a manager? How do you give positive feedback? USG Restart, member of USG People The Netherlands, offers organisations first aid on this topic. Gietman adds: “'Training temporary workers is no longer sufficient, it starts with discovering talent. USG People offers organisations the opportunity to become acquainted with the USG talent scan, customised training courses and coaching of talent.”