Forget Best Practice Hiring, Companies Should Focus on Next Practice Hiring

Most corporations operate off a set of best practices, a set of pre-defined principles that guide various business decisions. But a new report by the Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp) and the Aspen Institute suggests companies pay closer attention to “Next Practices.” Unlike best practices, next practices are forward looking recommendations based on market data.

That data comes from an examination conducted by i4cp of what distinguishes high-performing corporations from low-performing ones. In many instances, the engagement and development of frontline workers made a huge difference, making a case for companies to upskill—a word coined by the Obama Administration in 2015—those employees who typically exhibit low levels of proficiency.

The ‘next practices’ outlined in the report focus on redefining the way companies measure frontline worker development. Research from i4cp found that the two most popular ways of measuring talent within the employee pool were retention and productivity. However, the measurements that correlate to market performance are the number of workers taking advantage of higher learning opportunities and the incorporation of internal promotion as part of company culture.

The need seems obvious: i4cp reports that most low-wage workers are the first impressions most consumers get of a corporation—40% work in either health care/social assistance or retail/hospitality. But only 60% of the employers examined saw implementing programs to incorporate tuition reimbursement or apprenticeships as a real priority.

A lot of the hesitation has to do with a short-sighted focus on hypothetical drop in productivity and budgetary concerns. However, there are precedents that prove otherwise. For example, rather than finding time and space on site, Walmart found an external partner, American Public University, to offer its employees an opportunity to improve on their skills. The company offers Walmart employees a 15% grant, pays for textbooks and materials and AMU accepts workplace learning as college credits.



“The benefit of all these programs allows Walmart to contribute in a meaningful way to the upskilling of our associates,” said Brian Poland, Director of the Learning & Talent Development at Walmart. “Our associates have tremendous potential to grow their careers in retail and many of them are already upskilling themselves.”

Other companies like Newport News Shipbuilding offer apprenticeships and reported that 4% of its leadership team members were graduates of the program. 80% stayed with the company for over at least a decade. In its conclusion, i4cp called apprentice programs “the gold standard for on-the-job training.”

But while some of companies are embracing these ‘next practices’, too many others are lagging. 82% of employers offer tuition assistance, over half require reimbursement. The Department of Labor has registered 19,000 apprenticeship programs but 55% of companies say they don’t plan to design similar programs.

This oversight, matched with a lack of accountability—89% of organizations offer development opportunities to frontline workers but 73% don’t know how many employees actually take advantage of those programs – are curbing the progress of both corporations and low-wage workers. i4cp presents tuition reimbursement programs and apprenticeships as investments that can provide huge returns, but returns will be zero if those programs aren’t made apparent to employees or if they are left unmonitored for participation and progress. Those returns from upskilling employees, however, are what is going to keep companies competitive in the ever-changing global landscape.

“Today we are partnering with business across the country to UpSkill America,” President Barack Obama said when he launched the initiative in 2015. “To help workers of all ages earn a shot at better, higher-paying jobs even if they don’t have a higher education. We want to recruit more companies to help provide apprenticeships and other pathways so people can upgrade their skills. We are all going to have to do that in this new economy.”


The GradsofLifeVoice Forbes team provides thought leadership, research and expert commentary on innovative talent pipelines and related issues such as the skills gap, income inequality, workforce diversity, and the business case for employment pathways. We seek to change employers’ perceptions of young adults with atypical resumes from social liabilities to economic assets. This post was originally featured here.


Business Case, Hiring & Retention Practices, Innovation,
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