Reorientation: the early career talent industry skill that organisations need to master

Every year, the early career talent industry reorients millions of students and graduates from education to the professional world with stunning speed and efficiency.

Young people are inducted to the organisation through orientation programs, re-orienting them from education to work. Many are reoriented several times more as they move between different roles and environments on rotations throughout their first one to two years.

From 13 years helping the industry to achieve this in multiple sectors across 16 countries, our recent and on-going research in to the future of work – not to mention that this millennial audience will make up 50% of the workforce by 2020 – it is very clear to me the industry has mastered a skill organisations now need for the future of work: The reorientation of people.

reorientation NOUN

  1. The development of behaviours and mind-sets that help people achieve smooth transition in to new, or back in to roles, environments, occupations or organisations, quickly, more often.

A recent PwC survey reported that 60% of respondents believed that few people would have stable, long-term employment in the future. According to McKinsey, in several of the world’s largest economies, up to 50% of the workforce may need to switch occupations by 2030 due to rapid automation.

Research is showing that there is a growing shift is underway in our thinking about skills and knowledge – from a qualification lasting a lifetime, to needing to retrain for new skills every few years, move roles and occupations, and continually update soft skills in areas like collaboration, critical thinking and complex problem solving.

Quickly adapting to new roles, environments and contexts is not a new thing. However the need for more people to do so, and more regularly, is. Equipping sections of the workforce to understand the art of ‘Reorientation’ and then navigate their own reorientation with the behavioural science and skills necessary to do so, regularly, is now key.

The Reorientation of people is the development of behaviours and mind-sets that help people achieve smooth transition into new, or back in to roles, environments, occupations or organisations, quickly, more often.

More and more people want and need to reorient and move between roles, jobs and businesses, more often.

Three lenses from which to view the reorientation of people are:

  • Moving in (or back into) - people beginning or recommencing a career

  • Moving around - people developing within their career

  • Moving on - people leaving to evolve their career

When organisations become more comfortable with this new reality of career movement there will be a stronger strategic focus on assisting workforces to re-orientate – transitioning into, adapting to or find new career opportunities.

Moving in (or back into)

Moving in could include at least five different workforce audiences:

  • Students and graduates transitioning from school or higher education to the workplace

  • New employees being inducted and on boarded into organisations

  • Parents returning to work from maternity or paternity leave

  • Retirees coming back into the workforce

  • People returning from career breaks or sabbaticals

It is crucial to get this transition phase right. For experienced professionals coming back to the workplace after a period of absence, the ability to reorientate is just as important. Roles and environments they return to are often very different from when they left. They must adjust to new teams, structures, systems and processes, typically with little or no support or retraining. And particularly without training and support in the future skills needed to really succeed.

Moving around

Moving around could include (at least!) two different categories or audiences: 

  • Early career talent

  • Tenured staff

Both audiences are seen to have an increased need to continuously and proactively look for new challenges and roles in new environments. Particularly those that provide opportunities to learn new things and up skill in new areas, growing in line with organisational transformation driven by the future of work.

Moving on

Moving on is possibly where the biggest need for reorientation exists as a result of the future of work. And historically it has not been well explored in terms of development. Moving on could be viewed in terms of:

  • Individuals – where many people are not forward thinking enough and may only consider developing for their next role once their current role has almost expired.

  • Organisations – where the value of spending time and resources developing people who are going to leave has not been understood nor realised.

As the average tenure of permanent employee shortens and flexible, mobile workforces increase, more switched on individuals and progressive organisations are taking a new stance on these issues.  

If you acknowledge that most people you hire will only stay for a couple of years, then the level of ‘moving on’ development support you provide becomes a powerful talent attraction and retention strategy. And a powerful tool to future proof the business, and careers of people.  

Once people have ‘moved on’ they begin the cycle of reorientation again arriving back at the moving in (or back into) stage. Here they are once again faced with the challenges and opportunities this presents.

There is no doubt that more and more people, more often, will want and need to move in (or back into), around and move on from roles and organisations. As organisations become more comfortable with this, a higher level of acceptance, willingness and investment to help people to reorient will follow.

We believe organisations can help people move through all three stages with training and development – particularly by equipping them with relevant future skills, identifying strengths and coaching them through the change process.

We also believe that for organisations, thriving in the future of work and winning the war on talent is about reinventing recruitment, orientation, and development to future proof their business and the careers of their people.