Just over a quarter of employees (26%) leave their jobs due to lack of career progression, according to the Employer Branding Insights 2019 whitepaper from Wonderful Workplaces. By offering opportunities to grow your employees’ careers you can help retain them, or indeed attract top talent. Here are some steps you can take to achieve this and ensure your get a healthy return on your investment from your employees’ development.
Establish a continuous open dialogue
Professional development shouldn’t be a conversation that is confined to the annual appraisal. For all parties, a continuous and open dialogue between key stakeholders is more beneficial.
Formal discussions do play an important part in embedding specific, measurable and achievable development goals as well as providing a written record of what was talked about and agreed in terms of objectives and outcomes, but an incremental approach with small steps and continuous discussion is vital for understanding where an employee is and what their aims and objectives are.
Encourage individual ownership for career development
Employees need to take responsibility for the development of their career. Line managers should support and encourage, but the ultimate driver for career development is the employee themselves.
Employees need to invest in self-learning and learn to self-evaluate against current and desirable competencies. This may involve conducting a 360 degree review and getting feedback from a range of stakeholders. It’s important to understand which competencies an employee requires to take the next step on the career ladder and for line managers to act as a catalyst to get them there. It’s important that everyday opportunities for learning are also taken, small things such as asking what was learned after a presentation or meeting or even after a piece of work has been submitted, all contribute to overall employee career progress.
Offer coaching and mentoring
Coaching creates long-term learning and behavioural change and boosts learning through self-discovery, allowing a more personalised and tailored approach for the individual.
Mentors within the business can also help individuals move their careers forward and offer support from inside the organisation from those that understand its structure, working culture and development opportunities. They can also be assigned to ‘stretch’ the employee and move them out of their career comfort zone.
Champion e-learning and skills acquisition
E-learning courses have the advantage of being impartial, up to date with the latest content, and are quick and easy to use. Courses can also be revisited and can be delivered at a time that is convenient to the user. Blogs, YouTube videos and podcasts are all great learning tools too, so even if it doesn’t come packaged as ‘e-learning’ it may still provide a key source of development.
More formal training can also be necessary if it is a regulatory requirement or if exams need to be undertaken in order to move onto the next level within a career. Any acquired new skills should be documented and rewarded.
Employee development is an organisation-wide initiative. Employees that tap into the opportunities that are available within the business and utilise learning opportunities for stretch and growth will see their career flourish, particularly if they take ownership of their own learning and couple it with self-directed skills acquisition and knowledge harvesting.
Businesses that champion a learning culture will reap the benefits of improved retention and levels of motivation, as well as empowered employees who are willing to leap out of their comfort zones and become key talent.
Annie Hayes is a specialist HR, skills, careers and L&D writer with 19 years experience in the sector.