Career development opportunities key to staff retention

Providing opportunities for career development and progression are well known factors in keeping employees satisfied and reducing staff turnover – yet business isn’t taking full advantage of this concept.

A new report from Right Management found just 31 per cent of business leaders regularly discuss career development with their employees.

Bridget Beattie of Right Management said that while many organisations say they have career development programs in place, often these aren’t integrated into the operating systems of the workplace.

“As organisations flatten and social media opens up new opportunities for employees to position themselves effectively in the job market, managers must learn to have career conversations with staff to avoid skill mismatches, help employees define what drives them, and maintain high productivity,” Beattie said.

The report found there’s a ‘perfect storm’ fostering dissatisfaction in today’s workforce. Often, people don’t know what gets them out of bed to go to work each day. The lack of motivation means there’s a poor job fit, leading to decreased productivity and performance.

Organisational structures are also flattening, which means career progression is maxing out 20 years before retirement for many workers. Too many organisations are also taking a ‘one size fits all’ approach, which ignores factors like the varying ages of their workforce and the different expectations their employees have.

However, not all the fault lies with the employers. Nearly 50 per cent of employees find themselves in roles not aligned to their ideal position. This can happen as people can get ‘socialised’ into careers based on pressure from parents, university entrance marks, or peer pressure.

The report urges organisations to develop functional enterprise-wide career models in order to help address shifts in business demand and poor job fit, such as career pathways and career planning outputs.

Managers should be equipped as coaches in order to have meaningful career conversations with staff, and help facilitate career plans.

Ultimately, the key to strategic career development is aligning the employer’s value proposition and its needs and wants with those of the employee.

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