Employee development may be key to increasing worker satisfaction and increasing talent equity, suggests one panellist during the Insurance Institute of Canada’s Pivot with Purpose webinar.
Instead of viewing employees as assets, companies should see them as investments, explains Trevor Buttrum, director of operations at TalentEgg.
“We actually got the accounting wrong when CEOs say, ‘Our people are our greatest assets.’ That actually implies depreciation,” Buttrum says. “In my view, if we want to grow an organization, we need to say out loud to our employees, ‘We are investing in you, we care about your career success and we’re going to help you get where you want to go.’”
There are different ways for managers to invest in their employees’ success, and career development may be one way to do that, suggests Buttrum.
He notes the insurance industry has many avenues for employees to be upskilled or to continue their education.
“The insurance industry has a wonderful story to tell in terms of its investment in people,” he says. “And I’m not sure that we take that far enough, in terms of talking about the investment and credential and continuing education, in designation through the Insurance Institute [of Canada], the CIP program, is an investment on the part of the employer in that employee to be able to achieve success and results.”
Companies who invest in their employees will find that it pays off — “it’s an investment on the part of the employer in that employee to be able to achieve success and results,” Buttrum says. “From my perspective, employees are looking for that investment in their talent equity.”
However, not every employee strives for an upward career trajectory.
“That doesn’t always equal promotion, that doesn’t always equal C-suite,” he says. But keeping employees engaged through other means may also pay off.
Along with providing opportunities for continued learning or employee development, Buttrum suggests accommodating employees’ needs, handing employees stretch assignments and giving them agency in the workplace as other key ways to invest in their success.
“It’s not necessarily about upward-trajectory, linear careers anymore,” he says.
Instead of seeing employees’ career paths as linear, “We need to think about them as squiggly lines,” said Buttrum. “Those lines and those opportunities are going to look different for every employee who we have within our organization.”
The one-size-fits-all HR approach is “incredibly limited,” he says. “We need to consider the whole employee and operational needs of the team they’re on, and ways that we might be able to create an environment where they can thrive.”