In an era of record low unemployment, it is hard to imagine having a serious discussion about building depth of talent at any level, in any organization—especially the direct labor force. The skilled labor pool is shrinking. Economic growth continues. And the demand for employees willing to just show up on time and do their job is escalating at a feverish pace. It would appear that now is NOT the time for employers in service businesses to commit resources to employee programs geared toward professional growth and development.
I would contest and say that now is EXACTLY the time to do such a thing, and the reasoning is simple. First, a lack of positional succession planning and development is one of the reasons why so many businesses are currently in a direct labor bind. Second, the cost of developing and maintaining these programs is far less than the recruiting and turnover costs doled out each day by service companies competing for the same limited supply of labor. And third, many of the tools and strategies used in these programs are nothing more than best practices which have operational benefits that go far beyond finding and retaining skilled labor to perform a job.