How cross sector secondments can elevate development

May 16, 2022 | Development

Cross sector secondments can positively impact student development and wider society, explains The Whitehall & Industry Group.

The sudden and abrupt changes resulting from the pandemic has reshaped societies as a whole and has changed our needs and our desires for the future. Poor mental health, increased inequalities around the globe, unprecedented technological developments, and a weak global economy are only some of these struggles.

These challenges changed the ways in which we engage with our communities, our culture, and the way we interact and understand each other, altering our societal structure at all stages – but how has this new normal translated into the workplace?

Whether we are talking about prospects or employed talent, individuals in the labour market have a completely different approach to work and the workplace than they did before. New challenges have developed here, just like in every other aspect of our lives, and those challenges have brought different and new needs.

What do people need in the workplace?

Workplace needs can be categorised in four core areas: remuneration, infrastructure, purpose and values, and learning and development (L&D). However, the focus truly lies on values and L&D as surface level solutions like higher salaries or a trendy office (while still important) are not sufficient anymore for the new talent generation.

The reason behind this is the collective sense of awareness that we have developed, where we have become more mindful of our surroundings, the issues, the challenges, the opportunities, and overall, a better understanding of the human experience.

This more holistic and humanistic view of life is a very strong reason behind these new needs that workers and prospects are having, and this is the root cause of the big misalignment that exists between the values and the mission of people and organisations, as well as the mismatch between the expectations of workers and what employers can provide currently.

Having said this, how do these changes work in real life? What can we do to meet those needs and benefit from these changes? Here is where unique cross sector L&D opportunities play a game changing role, and more specifically: Secondments.

Cross sector secondments are fixed term work placements, where an individual moves into a different role in a different sector for six to 12 months to broaden their experience and develop a better understanding. You can find out more about the world of secondments and the opportunities available on The Whitehall and Industry Group website.

These opportunities can be personalised and can be flexible to the needs of both the secondee, the employer and the host. The new role can challenge skills in need of further development or provide further exposure in areas where the secondee would not otherwise have access to.

Why cross sector secondments are valuable

The fact that secondments can take many different shapes and can be done in many ways is a truly enabling learning and development experience

Moreover, by joining a different organisation, secondees will have the opportunity to make a real difference through their work and improve the lives and opportunities of those in wider society.

They will also be challenged to demonstrate real leadership, consider the societal impact of their decisions, and develop key skills that they will learn to deploy in a new setting.

A secondee will additionally be transferring knowledge back into their organisation to inform and enhance future decision making and strategic direction.

Finally, such an opportunity will build the person’s resilience, understanding and effectiveness in different working environments

The importance of this relies on the fact that to create effective and impactful L&D opportunities in current times, organisations need to be more innovative, creative, and personal; and perhaps as importantly, these opportunities will also improve the role that organisations and institutions have in wider society.

Responsibility and integrity are the main characteristics that workers look for in their employers, which once again, is a result from the more holistic and humanistic view of life that new talent generations developed the past few years.

People want to be part of an organisation that has at its core the promotion of noble, virtuous, and ethical choices for their customers, their employers, and wider society in general. Opportunities such as secondments are a powerful step towards transforming the working culture into a more socially minded one.

This opportunity is not only crucial for talent, but for employers as well, given that they are a key player in society.

Employer benefits

Host organisations benefit tremendously from having an individual with different knowledge, experiences, and skills in their organisations, which ultimately, have an impact in wider society.

A new external perspective will be introduced in their organisation, bringing fresh ideas and constructive evaluation of existing processes. Furthermore, a piece of work that may have not otherwise been possible without the support and capability of a secondee can be delivered.

Finally, organisations will be able to establish long-term connections with secondees, building their network and expanding the organisational reach.

The result from this cross-sector collaboration goes beyond understanding and improved governance, as individuals can feel a sense of purpose, organisations can make significant steps to reaching that goal of having a positive impact in wider society, and socially minded L&D opportunities will increase the sense of belonging workers have with their organisations, helping in this way retention and recruitment efforts.

The world of secondments continues to grow across sectors, each day more individuals and organisations are chasing this exciting and unique opportunity to engage with a new way of approaching L&D.

From senior leaders to early career roles, anyone can take part in a secondment at any stage of their career, so if you are looking for a change, going on a secondment is a great place to start.

 You can watch The Whitehall & Industry Group talking more about the value of secondments and how they work at the recording of their session at ISE’s Student Development Conference

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