Learning & Development

Flatlining: How to Foster a People-First Culture

With a record number of job openings and limited labor, employers may look to fill roles with new talent even though they have in-house talent primed for promotion. When workers excel, managers may feel the need to keep them in their current roles, even if they are qualified for a new role. In doing so, the company may unknowingly be creating a culture of complacency and stagnation whereby current employees are not encouraged to apply for internal positions.

This age-old obstacle to talent management—called “flatlining”—is the practice of refusing to promote a thriving, deserving employee for fear of having to backfill a role. At its core, flatlining is a culture challenge that hinders the individual employee and may have long-term repercussions for the business. If not addressed, flatlining can stifle company culture and employee engagement. Instead, to address flatlining, companies should foster a people-first culture in which professional growth is top of mind and there are open lines of  two-way communication.

Invest in Your People

While it may be daunting to think about the gap that will be created by promoting a high-performing employee, that should not be a reason to avoid promotions. Frontline managers should instead be educated on the benefits of keeping talent within the company, even if they are not with their team, and how the talent benefits the entire enterprise. Hiring from within is a smart business strategy that saves money on recruitment and training, as well as fosters career development and long-term employee engagement.

To mitigate flatlining in the workplace and foster a culture of growth, employers should consider upskilling. By teaching employees additional skills, employers can provide opportunities for workers to demonstrate and expand their capabilities. Training programs offer many benefits to employees and employers, and for organizations facing a culture of complacency, upskilling can bring renewed ambition and innovation into their workforce.

Show Care with Communication 

With transparent and frequent communication, employees will feel comfortable and confident when discussing their achievements and expressing interest in new roles within the organization. This form of communication can take place during annual reviews and other checkpoints. Managers and employees can use annual reviews to determine what tools workers need to reach their goals. This form of intentional communication benefits both the employee and the manager. Through communication, employees can practice advocating for themselves, and managers can help employees map out their goals, offer guidance, teach necessary skills before the next promotion, and help employees stay on track.

A people-first culture is fostered when workers and managers freely communicate about business needs, offer the training needed for new or open positions, and work together to further the organization’s goals. Losing a trusted employee to another department can be scary, but when that worker excels within the organization, it magnifies the company’s commitment to employees’ professional success. And when this happens, everyone succeeds.

Cheryl Hanson is a district manager with Insperity, a provider of human resources offering a comprehensive suite of scalable HR solutions. For more information about Insperity, visit www.insperity.com.   

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