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February 8, 2023

Talent Development in a Unicorn Labor Market

Female mentor explaining her talent development plan

Layoffs news is all over the job market, and it’s spreading outside of Technology Sector. Employees are now taking a different approach like the “career cushioning” trend. Regardless of the doom and gloom news, the job market remains tight. What HR professionals should be aware of when building a talent development plan for 2023. 

The current labor market presents a paradoxical set of challenges. While the job market is still hot and there are more jobs available than workers, the economy still looks uncertain. Global market instability and geopolitical issues continue to present challenges for leaders of companies. Staying competitive requires companies to respond quickly and nimbly to market shifts. Even though companies struggle to hire the best talent, they also reserve the right to recalibrate their talent pool if that becomes necessary. Since the new year kicked off with a cascade of layoffs extending beyond the Technology Sector, employees in a lot of companies are feeling tense. 

Workers want Communication, Control, Continuity & Care

Employees want to know what’s going on and what they can expect. They want more control over their circumstance. Above all, they want to know they matter to their employer, and that their manager has their back even if it means helping them find another job. HR leaders are striving to create talent development plans that prepare and support employees for both retention and restructuring, because companies may deploy both strategies in the present market. 

Communication – matters more than ever. Leaders are trying to engaging employees by communicating effectively about the present challenges facing the company as well as explaining the opportunities coming up. Leaders are talking clearly and compassionately about how potential changes could affect their teams. Better communication from leaders creates trust among teams and makes them more willing to stay working for companies in the throws of uncertainty.

Control – It’s challenging for HR leaders to create a solid career path amid so many unknowns. But they can give employees the tools and skills they need to be at their best in whatever circumstances that come. HR leaders that can pinpoint the most attractive support components employees want for this unique economic time are helping managers hold on to their talent as long as possible. Mangers also know if they must let go, they can do so with class.  

Continuity – The biggest thing a career path can provide employees in today’s market is peace of mind. Employees still want to grow for the sake of progressing in responsibility, influence, and compensation. But right now, they’re also hyper-focused on increasing their desirability as a worker who could be laid off in the future. If that happens, they want to ensure they can get another job quickly with little disruption to income flow. Employees are having to prepare for the best and worst-case scenarios at the same time, as are their employers. They still want to climb the ladder, but also just having a reliable job is top of mind. 

Employers will do well to acknowledge the situation and provide workers the building blocks for job security whether at your firm or elsewhere in the future. It may seem counterintuitive to prepare your employees to excel beyond the confines of your company chart. But the payoff is a loyal, capable, and fully engaged employee

How can employers effectively up-skill workers to take part in the company mission, and prepare them for any direction the wind blows? The same principals apply. 

Bring in Holistic Career Prepping 

Talent development just got a lot more expansive. Career paths will accommodate the internal and external goals your people have as well as a cast of individuals who take part in the employee’s talent development process. Employers can help employees build their “career community” that achieves their multifaceted progress as member of the professional world and your organization. 

Components of a effective career comunity include the following:

Mentor – This is someone who holds a more senior position in the same field of work who has more years of experience in that field. Mentors share authentic insights from their experiences which tend to resonate deeply with the mentee. And, the two people share a high trust relationship. Employees can find a mentor at their own company or elsewhere. It can be easier to find a compatible and effective mentor in a wider pool like TaskHuman’s online mentorship platform. 

Sponsor – A career sponsor works to raise your visibility at work. They hold a higher position at the same company as the employee, and they have the power to put the employee in new roles. This person advocates for the employee when they’re not around. Workers can score a sponsor through bold and effective workmanship and specific asks. 

Coach – A career coach helps employees identify weak areas that effect their progress at work and provide the tools and processes for them to make measurable improvements. They also teach employees how to leverage their strengths and manage their internal dialogue. Career coaches are effective because they act as a third party expert that knows how to proficiently up-skill an employee and has proven methodology they can immediately deploy.   

Peers – Employees need colleagues around them who encourage them and help each other out in good will. Friends that share one another’s LinkedIn posts, practice presentations together, exchange ideas, etc. not only make work a nice place to be. They also help to advance workers up the career ladder. HR leaders and managers can create environments where colleagues can nurture and utilize their lateral working relationships.


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