As challenging as it is for companies to find candidates to hire, it's even more difficult to keep good employees once they're on board. Just as unemployment is at a historically low rate, the quit rate for employees voluntarily leaving their jobs is historically high.
In August 2019, nearly 4.5 million people quit their jobs. And one of the primary reasons people leave their positions is the lack of opportunities to grow in their jobs—a common issue when companies do not have effective career development programs.
Old School Career Development Programs No Longer Work for Employees…
Career development looked different just a few years ago. Employees were hired and expected to work in their position for several years before even thinking about the next move. Even then, the career discussion might take place once a year, with management creating the plan for the employee to progress up the org chart gradually.
A whole lot has changed. Employees want a sense of fulfillment in their work. They want to use their talents and pursue areas of interest—which may or may not exactly match a set job description or career path, and they want to have a say in their career direction.
New generations entering the workforce are eager to make an impact and are unwilling to wait two years—or even six months—before being given opportunities.
Job hopping used to carry a stigma, but with low unemployment, leaving one job after a few months isn't seen as negative a career move as it once was. As a result, if Company A doesn't provide growth, employees will quickly hop over to Company B.
Or for Organizations…
When organizations don't respond to their employees' career development needs, the result is turnover. And that's costly to organizations. One estimate is replacing a trained and experienced employee costs the company 90% to 200% of the employee's annual salary.
Just as employees want to develop in their jobs, companies need employees to learn and grow too. Job, industry, and technology changes require agility, so employees need to be able to pivot and learn new skills for tasks and positions that didn't exist even ten years ago, like SEO specialist, app developer, sustainability director, or director of analytics.
Although companies may have employee development programs, many of them are not tied to the needs of today's dynamic workforce. We see that in numerous surveys, where a lack of career development is cited as a significant factor in employees quitting.
Successful Career Development for Today's Employees
So if the traditional company career development process doesn't work, what does?
Start developing immediately. Instead of the traditional practice of waiting a prescribed time to discuss career development, managers should begin the conversation from the start. When employees know that their work and opportunities are building their skills, they are more engaged and more likely to stay with the company. With one study showing that 40% of employees who quit did so in their first year, it's clear that managers can't afford to wait to begin developing a new hire.
Talk with the employee about development. Employees want to help guide their growth, so it's vital to ask them what kind of growth interests them. Some employees want assignments to prepare them for a promotion. Others want to broaden their skills through cross-functional experiences. Still, others want to find ways to incorporate a passion in their job.
Create custom career pathing. This individual plan takes into account an employee's career aspirations, skills, experience, and aptitudes to determine career milestones. As you look at the development necessary for getting to those milestones, remember that employees have different learning styles. Together, with the employee, identify the type of development that works best.
Track plans and progress. The best plans include ways to gauge progress along the way. Whether you use SMART or GROW goals or other metrics, it's imperative to have checkpoints to make sure the career growth continues. Frequent check-ins and periodic feedback give time for early identification of opportunities and challenges.
Integrating Career Development in Employee Experience
Even the best managers with good intentions can fall behind on career development—especially if they view it as a standalone initiative. But when career development is part of the employee experience—along with other functions such as recruiting, compensation, and performance management—employee development becomes part of the holistic view of the employee.
Most standalone performance management platforms focus solely on career development--isolated from other HCM functions and easily pushed aside.
But when HCM platforms, like SyncHR, integrate with a performance management solution, you can create a complete view of your employee by making sure all of the employee data lies in one place. For example, with our integration with Bridge, an integrated and personalized employee development platform, you can compare data like turnover with career development stats and identify areas to address.
Supporting career development in employees doesn't just provide companies with a competitive advantage. It provides a means for business survival. By creating a seamless process and providing managers a holistic view of employees, career development programs can help employees learn, grow, and stay.
To see SyncHR's performance management tool live, contact us to schedule a demo
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