5 strategies to develop invaluable employees

Employers are in a bit of a bind these days. The economy is performing well, as millions of jobs were added to payrolls in 2018. Unemployment held at 4 percent for virtually the entirety of 2018, and even fell below that threshold for several months.

However, with more people at work, there aren't as many options for businesses to hire; many of the qualified professionals have been snatched up. In short, there's a talent shortage.

"Bad hires on average cost employers approximately $15,000 per person."

This conundrum has cost companies two precious things: time and money. As several polls have shown, it's taking businesses longer to find replacements, and it's also wound up costing them by bringing someone aboard who turned out to be the wrong fit.

A 2017 CareerBuilder poll found that bad hires on average cost employers approximately $15,000 per person. The reasons they were let go varied, but qualifications were among the biggest sticking points.

The dearth of talent isn't just affecting one industry either, as has been the case in years past. It's impacting several of them. For example, the skills gap in the manufacturing sector may result in 2.4 million jobs nationwide going unfilled by 2018, according to a joint study performed by Deloitte, the National Association of Manufacturers and The Manufacturing Institute.

Meanwhile, the tech world is in similarly dire straits. Close to 90 percent of respondents in a separate Robert Half poll - all of whom were IT professionals - said their company was struggling to find people who had the appropriate qualifications for new or unoccupied positions.

Instead of taking a risk on a professional who on paper appears qualified but turns out not to be, you may want to consider molding your current employees to be the key resources that make them indispensable. Here are four ways you can mold personnel into all-important assets. 

1. Truly prioritize employee development
It's one thing to say your company offers opportunities to ascend the corporate ladder. It's quite another to actually do it. If you want your workers to step out of their comfort zone and stretch themselves, you have to show them what's possible. If positions open up, make sure to send out emails informing workers of what's available. Try to be as specific as possible regarding what the position requires in terms of qualifications, their responsibilities and what's in it for them, such as health benefits, retirement saving programs or other performance incentives.

2. Identify and appoint leaders
Every business has workers who exude leadership. They manifest these qualities in everything they do, whether it's how they comport themselves, participate in group projects, fastidious organizational habits or overall affability. Look for these qualities in the people who've been with the company for at least a year. By installing them into oversight positions, leaders can wring every last bit of effort out of their team by inspiring them to succeed. Never underestimate the importance of managers, who are especially adept in advancing engagement - the key to ongoing productivity.

3. Make it personal
Just as everyone has his or her strengths, workers have their weaknesses. The ideal, of course, is to turn struggles into successes, but in order to do that, your crew has to be able to identify them. In performance reviews, consider creating individual development plans. Forbes contributor Steve Olenski says these are best established in formal settings, meaning one on one and in person.

"This conversation will help identify the development activities that individual should be undertaking," Olenski explained. "After all, not everyone shares the same goals or has the same perspective about what they want to achieve in their career. Still others may be unsure about what they want to do. The development plan should provide a roadmap for the employee that includes measurable goals and a realistic timeframe for achieving each goal."

Olenski went on to note that you should try to touch base with your employees from time to time to see how they're doing and hold them accountable. Doing so may also lead to making certain changes or amendments to the original development plan.

4. Determine what your employees want
Incentives lie at the heart of a free market economy. They're what galvanize people to reach for the stars. As you might imagine, salary is a major motivator, with approximately 44 percent saying they'd quit their post if a higher-paying job opportunity presented itself, according to a 2018 OfficeTeam poll. In one-on-one meetings, encourage employees to be forthcoming about what truly inspires them to succeed.

"Chart out a plan for how they can go about reaching their aspiration."

Whatever it is, chart out a plan for how they can go about reaching their aspiration. Workers who are truly invested are typically the ones who deliver results. Speaking of investing, 93 percent of employees say they would stay with their employer longer than they initially anticipated if doing so furthered their career goals, according to a recent LinkedIn survey. In other words, investing in your people pays off for everyone.

5. Consider micro-learning sessions
Meetings — everyone has them, and they always seem to go on for longer than anyone wants. When meetings are for training purposes, you may want to consider offering a bite-sized version. As noted by Forbes contributor Meghan Biro, learning sessions offered up in spurts - usually no longer than five minutes - enable personnel to better digest information and be on their way. Whether you're doing the training, it's through a third party or online video, short and sweet is key to molding key employees.

Once you've developed a key employee - or ideally, employees - they become indispensable assets. So much so, losing them would truly be a loss. Unfortunately, there's no guarantee to qualified people leaving the company, as sickness or an untimely death are other variables beyond your control.

With Leveraged Planning® Solutions from Global Financial Distributors, though, you can soften the blow with a high cash value life insurance policy. For more information on how key person life insurance financing works, please speak with a GFD advisor.