The ability to recruit and retain talented and skilled managers and employees is essential for emerging companies to become and remain competitive. Unfortunately, companies are increasing challenged in their attempts to tap into pools of qualified candidates from outside due to the increasing global demand for talent and the lack of a sufficient number of Generation X workers to replace retiring baby boomers. As a result, companies are turning inward and attempting to identify potential leaders from within their workforce that can be trained to assume more important roles. In order for this strategy to be successful, companies are allocating more resources on management and employee development programs and creating what are, in effect, human capital investment projects. As with any other type of investment, companies must establish specific goals and objectives, which requires forecasting the future human resource requirements of the company; prioritizing how the available monies are spent on specific development programs; and creating tools that can be used to measure the effectiveness of the choices made relating to the investments in development programs.
There are a number of options available to companies wishing to provide professional and career development opportunities for their managers and employees. For example, many companies offer courses to their personnel covering a wide range of topics and the increasing ease of use of online learning has made it easier for companies to tap into specialized programs that are available through universities and private education companies. Universities are also mobilizing to provide a customized curriculum, including made-to-order degree programs for a specific company, which would be available through in-class courses and online. However, even companies with substantial financial resources are questioning the efficiency of trying to create and offer learning programs for everyone in the organization and there is a growing recognition that the scope and focus of these programs must be closely aligned with the long-term goals of the company. Specifically, companies are being advised to reduce the amount of funds allocated to training for rank-and-file employees and instead concentrate their efforts on the positions that the company has identified as being most critical for the success of the company five to ten years down the road. In order for this approach to be successful, however, the company must have a good idea of where it intends to go including what new products, technologies and markets will be central to the company’s business in the future. Moreover, human resources professionals must be able to assist managers in identifying those persons who are most likely to emerge as leaders at some point in the future and the company must be prepared to provide those selected for development with sufficient incentives to remain with the company to the point where there skills become most crucial and important.