Sustainable employability – a case study

Sustainable employability – a case study
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Last year a large company based in Holland came to us with a strategic HR problem. Because of technologies and changing customer wishes they knew that in the near future employees would lose their specific tasks or jobs. And even beyond the company itself, their kind of work was going extinct rather sooner than later. Besides not having a future-proof staff, they also wanted to invest in their current employees to help them being able to develop themselves to stay relevant now and in future, in and outside this company; sustainable employability was not a big problem now, but it would be in 2 years.

Outplacement was one option, but expensive and very inefficient. They also realised firing whole departments would create a lot of stress and pressure on other departments, and would stimulate good people to leave too. So we were asked to help them create a strategy to enforce their employees, so they could gain extra knowledge and skills to stay future proof, or find other work that suited them better.

So we:

  • Designed a custom made program to enhance sustainable employability at certain divisions of the company. Included was a management development course to help managers take different roles so they could help their teams with the acceptance and transformation.
  • Raised self-awareness in small groups-workshops to help the employees understand what sustainable employability meant, and how they could improve it.
  • Assessed all employees with an online questionnaire to gain knowledge about their own sustainable employability.
  • All employees had 1-to-1 coaching sessions with the trainer/coach to discuss the outcomes of this test, and see if, and if so where improvement was needed. We discussed what they needed and what they wanted to discuss with their manager.
  • Had a 3-way meeting with the employee, their manager and the trainer/coach. Here we discussed how sustainable employable the employee was, and what they needed to improve.
  • After the coaching sessions we held specific courses combined with individual coaching for those who needed to re-inforce, resist and recover their energy and get a firm grip on their own business future.
  • We coached managers on how to coach their own teams.
  • After 9 months we re-assessed the employees to see where they would stand now, and what the results where.

What where the issues we faced?

Some managers where afraid that their top team members would start looking for other jobs. In our meetings, we helped them understand that in reality, when people are happy and future-proof they won’t leave. On the contrary, it would help them invest more in their current job and the company and feel more appreciated. The results after 9 months showed that no high-potential staff left the company because of the program.

What were the key factors to the project success?

The company should use this program to invest in their people, to create a flexible workforce capable of finding tasks and work that suits them well. If that is the aim, people will feel supported to look for a way to do their best possible work.

Essential in this case was that managers took a coaching role towards their teams. The more standard role of top down will not create the open communication and safety needed to face their own limitations and possibilities.

After the ‘self-awareness period’, action was not always required. For many participants the conclusion was that they liked their job, they already invested in gaining knowledge to stay future proof so they were at exactly the right place at the right time. Managers found that this group experienced extra motivation and work joy and emphasized this as a very positive effect of the course.

What outcome did the project generate?

  • Overall a more flexible and future-proof work force
  • Clear improvement in satisfaction and motivation
  • Employees took responsibility for their own future and started discussing that with their managers
  • Trust level increased
  • 10 people found a different task within the company that suited them much better

Are you interested in sustainable employability or an open dialogue to see if we also can make a tailor-made programme for your organisation? Do contact us at or!

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