A culture of continuous development: the secret to bucking the great resignation trend?

To become more resilient against ongoing economic uncertainty and potential future crises, companies must take a new approach to training and development as a key engagement and retention tool


A desire to grow professionally to pursue new career opportunities – and the talent drain employers face by not supporting those ambitions with the right training – is one of the big drivers of the great resignation. According to a recent survey by talent experts Right Management, 73% of UK employees believe their employers don’t carry any responsibility for their development, and 81% of UK employees say they don’t have a written career plan in place with their employer.

The difference such opportunities make is what sets professionals that thrive apart from their ordinary counterparts, according to Pitch, a collaborative presentation software company that late last year released its “Thriving Teams” report, documenting insights from a survey of 2,000 US and UK digital workers.

Workers that the report identifies as thriving are 35% more likely to have coaching opportunities, and 52% more likely to feel they have support from their employer in progressing along their chosen career paths.

73% of UK employees believe their employers don’t carry any responsibility for their development, and 81% of UK employees say they don’t have a written career plan in place with their employer

HSBC is one firm that has taken this consideration seriously, creating an upskilling programme in tandem with the rollout of its internal talent marketplace matching people to projects, as an important vehicle for the bank to develop its workforce and retain talent.

While talent marketplaces are becoming a growing corporate trend to boost engagement, satisfaction and loyalty – and a way for employers to turn the great resignation into the great re-engagement, as a number of experts have repositioned it in the media – HSBC has recognised that the success of this strategy hinges on its ability to develop its people in line with the demand for new skills. That’s why it also rolled out a new learning platform in parallel with its talent marketplace to upskill its teams.

“We wanted to establish a movement to create a culture of continuous growth and development at the bank,” HSBC’s group head of HR transformation, Melanie Lee, told audiences at the Gloat Live virtual conference.

“We wanted our employees to be empowered to collaborate and drive their own skills and careers, to prepare them for the world both within and also beyond HSBC, developing confidence, curiosity and competency.”

HSBC’s learning experience platform, Lee shared, provides a single point for people to access learning from across internal and external content providers and sources, surfacing recommendations for people based on their preferences and development goals. The company is also able to create business and skill-specific learning pathways tailored to individuals and teams.

The convergence of the two platforms, Lee added, is “a powerful skills ecosystem for our people”. If someone isn’t successful at securing one of the opportunities they are matched with in the talent marketplace, they will receive a direct link to relevant resources within the learning experience platform to help them bridge that gap. Then when someone updates their skillset on their profile, that information is also updated within the talent marketplace to help match the person with new opportunities.

In parallel, companies also need to double down on how they develop and coach leaders. That’s in light of a recent HiBob and Fiverr study of 1,000 US-based HR leaders, where 46% say that managers and directors are leaving their companies more so than entry-level employees, underlining how the great resignation is manifesting in the upper echelons of business.

To build the right kind of leadership to drive an organisation forward, companies should hire for culture and values fit first, then focus on upskilling from within once the right talent with the desired attributes and mindset are secured. That’s the approach taken by Chemistry group, a talent strategy consultancy that works with the likes of Experian and The Co-operative to build leadership qualities that align with a business’s specific culture.

“Culture is extremely important to an organisation, as it really frames the entire employee-employer relationship. Hiring purely for skills means you are ignoring this cultural-values component, and running the risk of a misalignment,” explains Diarmuid Harvey, Chemistry’s head of science.

Culture, Harvey adds, and where an individual’s personal values are aligned with that of the company, can be a more powerful motivator than benefits and salary. Where HSBC has made skills and career development part of its culture is where this narrative gets interesting: over 120,000 of the company’s 220,000 employees worldwide are engaging with its learning platform, which registered 1.5 million content views last year.

It bodes well for the global expansion of HSBC’s talent marketplace beyond its initial markets of the US, UK, India and Singapore. The double whammy of skills and opportunities is reinvigorating HSBC as a place to diversify and expand your career, without changing companies. Perhaps it’s hit on a secret formula that will buck the great resignation trend.