A sustainable career creates happy, healthy, and productive employees. It's the kind of work that fits your staff's interests, values, skills and abilities. It provides employees a sense of security and well-being. But, how do you build a sustainable career path for your outsourcing staff?
Start with an Employee Development Plan
Create a career plan for your employees. Align your business goals with the objectives in your plan. There are five elements to creating a sustainable career development plan: meaningful work, increased opportunities for growth, improved health and education, increased income, and more time and productivity.
A leadership program that prepares your employees prior to taking on a managerial role is a good example of a career development plan.
Developmental programs can include a combination of activities such as formal training, reading, working directly with subject matter experts, one-on-one coaching and mentoring, and visits to institutions that offer specific development opportunities.
So, let's say you wanted to see your production increase by 50% after three months. You hired the best people you can find to help you double your production. In response to having more people on your payroll, you'll need to divide them into groups and assign a team leader to supervise each group.
Rather than hire new people as team leaders, retrain a select few of your current employees and promote them to leadership roles. These employees intimately know the work your company does and they're heavily invested into seeing your company succeed more than anyone else.
Set Up Work Schedules with Clear Goals
Set up work schedules that give your employees time to pause and breathe slowly. Let your employees pace themselves. Giving them little time to relax will burn them out quickly. Some jobs in outsourcing can take a chunk of an employee's personal time away from friends and family. This is one of the major reasons why many outsourcing workers change jobs frequently.
Clearly state your goals and make sure they're realistic. Create milestones for your staff. Whenever they reach these milestones, reward them for a job well done. When your employees have clear goals in mind and a reward waiting for them when they achieve those goals, they have more reasons to stay put.
Continually Train Your Employees
HR professionals often say someone fits the job because he or she has the credentials, the right set of skills, and the years of experience that they're looking for. But, what happens after an employee has been working on the same job for awhile? While a job may not demand that much improvement on skills, an opportunity for additional training can boost your employee's confidence and self-worth.
When your staff is exposed to new technologies and ideas, they're more likely to innovate. They'll find ways to improve their productivity and shorten the time it takes to do their work. Simply put, training your staff helps your business reinvent itself, adapt and survive.
Provide Opportunities for Career Growth
Employment growth is not just about career advancement although this is primarily what employees are looking for when they're jumpstarting their careers. While a promotion may come with additional responsibilities, the anticipation of getting a loftier title at work, receiving higher pay, and having the admiration and respect of their peers keeps employees motivated to perform well at their jobs.
Employees also grow professionally when they improve their skills or add to their credentials a post-graduate degree and certifications.
Writers and researchers for Harvard Business Review have identified and described eloquently the motivational power of progress, the importance of making headway on a day-to-day basis. Whether employees are acquiring useful new skills or simply recording small workplace victories, such progress can motivate.
So, give your staff the time and resources to finish their master's or doctorate degree, or to attend conferences and take exams where they can be officially recognized for their knowledge and skills. These certifications will surely help them move up the career ladder.
Cultivate a Growth Mindset Among Your Employees
If a promotion is not possible because all of the positions have been filled up, employees can still achieve financial growth through reward programs for hitting targets and performing beyond expectations. Other ways for employees to grow financially is to offer long-term incentives. Besides, it's not just the money that motivates people.
Sometimes, a change in responsibility or role can be just as refreshing and motivating as moving up in the organization. It may even be more rewarding because the change challenges your employees to perform in a role they're not familiar with. This pushes them to learn new skills and become better at what they do.
Create a Fun and Motivational Work Environment
A workplace study in 2013 revealed a few things about motivation that truly broke our assumptions about work and money. Financial rewards are good, but they're not the top contributing factor to improving employee engagement and increasing motivation at work. How employees feel about their jobs and their work environment is more important to them.
A key finding was that 70% of survey respondents reported their most meaningful recognition "had no dollar value" – a substantial increase from 57% in a similar survey 2007.
The study, funded by Make Their Day, an employee motivation firm, and Badgeville, a gamification company, surveyed 1,200 U.S. employees from a broad cross-section of industries. Among the study's highlights:
- 83% of respondents said recognition for contributions was more fulfilling than any rewards or gifts;
- 76% found peer praise very or extremely motivating; - 88% found praise from managers very or extremely motivating;
- 90% said a "fun work environment" as very or extremely motivating. "Workers of all ages, especially the rising Millennial population," concluded Ken Comee, Badgeville CEO, "are motivated by real-time feedback, fun, engaging work environments, and status-based recognition over tangible rewards."
Another motivational perk that Millennials would like to have at work is flexibility. The younger generation would like to have the option of working any time they wanted to as long as they finished their tasks for the day. A fixed schedule that forces them to be in the office at 9 AM in the morning is not ideal for them.
Flex work may seem like something the younger generation woudl want, but it's also a primary goal of many older workers, especially those with infants and toddlers. Aside from flex work, businesses can also set up a telecommuting program for employees who have a difficult time commuting to and from the office and will be more productive working from home. Employees with health problems will benefit most from flex work or telecommuting.
Build a Sustainable Career Path for Outsourcing Workers
For your employees, having a sustainable career means finding a job that fits their needs as well as their interests, values, skills, and abilities. For employers, it's about retention and keeping your top performing employees happy, healthy, and productive each day. In order to be sustainable, employees and their employers must make continual choices regarding career development in a rapidly changing workplace.
It's possible to build a sustainable outsourcing career despite the looming presence of a gig economy where a contingent workforce survives by doing contractual work. Whether your employees are working at home or from the office, you can provide long-term employment to your outsourcing workers.
To retain your high performing employees, it's vital that you offer more than the possibility of higher pay. Provide opportunities for growth, improved healthcare benefits, access to continued education, work flexibility for work-life balance and greater productivity, and work that is meaningful to your outsourced staff.