Nowadays, a person working at the same company for more than 10 years is a rare bird.

In the last few years, younger employees are spending shorter stints with an employer, but they’re also becoming more selective in their job searches — particularly during the coronavirus pandemic, which forced everyone into their homes with more time to reflect on their ideal workplace.

Mondelez International Inc. is one of many employers dusting off their education benefits and highlighting them as a tool to attract and retain staff for the long term. The organization is hoping its focus on upskilling and priming its younger workers for leadership roles will encourage them to stay for a long and meaningful career with the multinational company, says Lindsey Swaisland, its human resources business lead.

Read: Imperial Tobacco leverages career development to support employee well-being

In addition to its tuition education assistance program, which offers employees up to $5,250 per year to help with a part-time bachelor program and up to $8,000 per year for a master’s degree program, Mondelez has developed an in-house virtual learning hub that hosts courses such as influencing, time management, negotiation skills, diversity, equity and inclusion coursework and computer programming.

In a tight labour market, education benefits that help people upskill or gain mentorship — particularly for a younger demographic — is a valuable offering for employers and employees alike, says Kim Siddall, People Corporation Inc.’s vice-president of enterprise consulting for the West.

Recruiting straight from the source

In 2018, Mondelez introduced a leadership development program that recruits employees directly from local universities, develops their skills internally and creates a career pathway to full-time employment.

The two-year rotational program, which provides graduates with experience in general management, includes field- or customer-based sales rotations in the first year and two different marketing roles in the second year. Afterwards, graduates join the company in a full-time, permanent position based on business needs and where they performed well during the program.

Read: Capital One Canada fostering employee well-being through learning, development

One of Mondelez’s philosophies is ‘grow every day,’ says Swaisland, noting the organization wants to ensure employees are equipped with the right skillset and knowledge to be suc-
cessful in an ever-changing market.

Career-pathing from the get-go

By the numbers

• 56% of global organizations are actively working to future proof their talent pipelines;

• 47% are focusing their attention on existing employees’ transferrable skills to fill future job openings;

40% of hiring managers haven’t considered reskilling or upskilling to fill job vacancies; and

24% of respondents require a diverse slate of candidates when hiring, while 49% said it’s encouraged but not mandatory; and

34% are confident in their organization’s ability to deliver reskilling and upskilling programs.

Source: LHH global survey, 2021

From a time and financial perspective, recruiting is a massive investment for Mondelez.

Its virtual learning hub provides employees with information on career-path opportunities and the next steps required to move to another role, as well as the learnings and competencies they can build from those roles. Employees like the fact they don’t have to stay in one function throughout their tenure with the company, says Swaisland.

It’s common for employees to join Mondelez in a sales function and then move to another role because they’ve found they’re interested in another aspect of the organization, she points out, adding the company encourages staff to find where their own interests and strengths lie. “We hire the best people and we want to make sure we’re leveraging their experiences in any way that helps them grow and helps us grow as a business. It’s critical that career-pathing conversations are constantly happening with leaders, their teams and senior management.”

Read: How Provincial Aerospace promotes employee education

Reframing what growth looks like within an organization can help with the languishing that employees sometimes feel in their roles, says Siddall, noting learning something new can help reignite engagement.

If employers think outside of the box by helping staff learn a new skill or prepare for their next in-house role, they’ll gain a more grateful and engaged employee, she adds, while cautioning employers to be clear about the end goal.

Helping employees level up

At Mondelez, opportunities abound for all workers to further their careers, says Swaisland.

An in-house apprenticeship program is available for employees based in the organization’s manufacturing plants. Through the program, which lasts between two and four years, employees are paid while they learn, gain practical experience and can move into a full-time position related to their area of study once they’ve completed the course.

Mondelez also offers an education program that provides employees with the opportunity to work in another global office for up to six months. During the hiring process, the organization highlights the program so potential hires can have a clear idea of what their career path may look like and how the company can support them in that journey.

Read: Employers offering mix of incentives, upskilling amid labour shortage: survey

It’s important for employees to see the progression that comes with keeping their careers within the same organization, says Siddall, noting they’ll take that growth and development and apply those lessons within the company, their personal lives and the community at large.

Across Mondelez’s entire business, employee tenure is typically long, says Swaisland, adding the educational benefits have made a difference in those decisions to stay. “We believe strongly in making sure that employees are invested in and can grow their careers across our workforce.”

Lauren Bailey is an associate editor at Benefits Canada.