In the last 30 years, our work WIIFMs have changed dramatically. Across generations, people want the time they spend blending work and life to accrue tangible benefits beyond just a paycheck. Increasingly we prioritize a greater sense of purpose and an opportunity to improve our skills and knowledge nearly as much, and sometimes more, than we prioritize pay.

In competitive roles such as engineering, data analytics and biogenetics, the ability to prove and then improve our marketable skills is critical for career progression and talented people instinctively know this. When evaluating a job opportunity, they strategically weigh their opportunity to learn or gain a unique experience as much as they weigh their compensation and benefits package.

It often surprises me that some employers still haven't connected these dots.
Evidence of this trend is everywhere. Experiences are trumping titles and millennials are prioritizing learning over a 'successful career'. Bottom line - today's talent wants coaching.

This shift in priorities won't slow down given the continued rise in job automation, the gig economy, and the growing importance of specialized skills required for high demand roles. For example according to the recent CEB Insights, from 2008 - 2014, the demand for a data architect has increased x 3400.

If you haven't already prioritized coaching in your people strategy, get on it. Here are two reasons you should bank on this new talent currency:

  • It connects your company culture to current talent's priorities. The mindset of 'fail fast to learn quickly' is changing our attitudes about desirable company cultures. Talented people want to work within a culture where they are encouraged to learn from both failure or success as long as it results in progress. It's simple - remove fear of failure, and people will unleash their creativity.

Amazon's ratings on Glassdoor are a telling example. Obviously working at Amazon means you're joining a culture that works hard and fast, but if you look closer at the 'pros', the ability to learn (and earn) in the future is the reward that makes the sheer intensity of it all worth it.

"It is my strong belief that working for one year at Amazon is equivalent to what you learn at Microsoft in two-three years."

Your employment brand is now publicly stack ranked and rated on the quality of your learning, mentoring and coaching programs. Take stock of what the talent development potential of your organization is and then find out how to make it an authentic part of your culture and central theme of your employment brand story.

  • It makes your time spent with your brand a better investment. Over 40% of the workforce will be freelance by 2020 whether employers like it or not. The employers who stop fighting it, accept that talent is fluid and choose to become a magnet for perpetual learners are going to crush it.

Smart talent invests their time in high value employers and experiences - in essence, they invest in strengthening their skills portfolio. They acquire the experience or knowledge they need for a boost in their own 'market value', and then parlay that "experience cache" into the groundwork for their next big opportunity. Thanks to tools like PayScale, LiveCareer and it's ridiculously simple to evaluate what their individual skills portfolio is worth when they take it back to market.

So how do you fatten your wallet with this new kind of hiring currency? Start with these basics:

  1. Design your coaching program for where the work happens. Team leaders are sharing talent across projects and assembling teams on the fly. Make sure your strategy is designed to pick up on day one, helping them share tribal knowledge and offering prescriptive coaching advice within days not months.
  2. Make sure coaching content is easily digestible. By now you've heard that video is eating the world. If your coaching strategy doesn't include a simple way to deliver digestible soundbites via video, it's not going to last.
  3. Make sure coaching content is delivered anytime, anywhere. This feels obvious, but it's worth mentioning - your coaching content must be ridiculously accessible, so you've got to keep it mobile first. Be mindful of how and when successful people consume content - early or late before or after they get to work, during a commute, at lunch, on the fly between meetings.

Improving the value of an individual's marketability (and mobility) will become even more important as innovation requires increasingly fluid teams and external sources of specialized talent. Become known for a culture of coaching, and a magnet for perpetual learners and you'll be one of the most attractive places to work.