Provide development opportunities they’re looking for — and potentially increase internal interactions
Employees who possess strong social capital skills — including the ability to network and build relationships — may seem like a big hiring risk for companies that are concerned about retention.
The more connections and communication and networking skills an employee has, after all, the easier it should be for that person to find a new job.
In actuality, though, employers may find recruiting workers with social capital expertise — along with offering networking skills training to current employees — can result in a number of positive outcomes, including:
Fulfilling workers’ professional development needs
Research indicates employees recognize the importance of networking and relationship-building skills. Young professionals ranked networking ability fourth on a list of the top types of knowledge they’re interested in learning to improve their employability in a June 2019 Harvard Business View Ascend survey.
Some professionals view networking as a way to broaden their horizons; for others, it can be a way to increase performance. Survey results published by EY found expanding knowledge is managerial-level workers’ main catalyst for networking. Professionals at the director level and above, on the other hand, view getting new business as the top reason to network.
Corporations may have dozens of informal networks, such as peer groups, that have formed due to shared interests and knowledge — and McKinsey research suggests those groups could, at times, be more effective at sharing proprietary information within an organization and building relationships than formally structured groups.
Expanding employers’ recruiting pool
More than a quarter — 28 percent — of professionals say they’ve either found or been referred to a new role through a network connection, according to EY. Companies may be able to reach younger candidates, in particular, through networking connections. An Adecco survey published earlier this year found members of Generation Z are more likely to rely on personal connections when job hunting.
A number of employers are now focusing on soft skills like networking ability when recruiting, instead of looking primarily for the more traditional hard skills.
Strong soft skills are, in fact, the most in-demand job candidate characteristic, according to a Cengage survey — which found less than 50 percent of employers feel computer and technical skills, for instance, are the most important.
In addition to paying attention to soft skills when recruiting, companies may also want to review currently employed workers’ skills sets to see if any additional instruction is needed. If offering communication and networking skills training for employees can help your organization avoid succession problems and future skills gaps, these blog posts on skills training companies can afford on any budget, eliminating skills shortages through reverse mentoring and using open-source software in employee training may be of interest.
For more on how to build networking skills — and why companies are encouraging employees to put them into practice — view our blog posts on establishing an employee alumni network and how to effectively build your employer brand.