Lifelong employability means training your workforce so that your team members are prepared for changes in the economy, the industry, and in technologies as time goes on. A lifelong employee is a valuable employee, who has the potential to know your business inside and out while being able to make the necessary adjustments when changes come.

Preparing for Economic Changes

During the COVID-19 crisis, many businesses learned that major economic downturns can hit hard and quickly.  A workforce consisting of lifelong employees not only understands the business, but is wholly invested in survival. When there is uncertainty, these are not employees who are likely to be willing to cut their losses and look for employment elsewhere. Your business matters a great deal to them because it represents something they've helped to build, as well as their own future.

Preparing for Industry Changes

Industry changes may not often be as earth-shattering as a pandemic, but for a business that needs to remain competitive in its industry, major shifts can mean substantial turmoil. A group of long-term employees are likely to understand these changes better than others and may even be pushing you to stay ahead of the curve. Either way, you have a much better chance of coping with change if you have an experienced staff.

Advancements in technology are frequent, and these days, tech evolves so rapidly that few industries are unaffected by automation, artificial intelligence, and other changes both large and small.

Providing Opportunities for Continued Learning

There is more to fostering lifelong employability than simply keeping a person on staff for a length of time. You must make sure they are staying on top of these economic and technological shifts. The best talent will take the initiative and do their best to stay abreast of trends on their own, but ultimately, you're going to need to provide for continued learning over time

On lifelong employability, Beth Davies, Connor Diemand-Yauman, and Nick van Dam at McKinsey write, "Rather than focusing on retraining and reskilling as ends to themselves, we must reframe these topics as a means to the specific end of remaining employable for as long as one desires to be a part of the workforce." (1)

"Embracing the idea of lifelong employability will help workers remain relevant and ensure that employers have the flow of skilled workers they need and could even improve retention by exciting employees about their career prospects and potential," they note.

Providing Motivation

Don't assume that the prospect of job security is the only motivation your employees need to stick around. Beyond pay and benefits, you can further motivate them by offering flexibility when they need it. Talk with them regularly about their work and how it is helping the company. Workers are more invested in their work when they are appreciated and that they are making a difference.

Provide opportunities for promotion and changes in tasks to keep things fresh, but make sure they are comfortable with their role and listen carefully to any feedback.

Lead your company by example and demonstrate confidence and a positive attitude. Employees are less likely to want to commit their professional lives to working for someone they don't respect. Earn trust and respect, and your business will be stronger for it.

Cultivating lifelong employees means investing time and resources to ensure your workforce is staying relevant and facing challenges. This is preferable to frequently looking for replacements who will not know the business as intimately as someone who has been there a long time.