Career Path Enablement Is Key In The Human Age

In that deflating moment when the star employee you painstakingly mentored tells you that despite much admiration and gratitude she’s leaving for something better, it’s easy to react emotionally and to blame others — those disloyal millennials, can’t believe the competition poaches like that — but you can only reduce turnover in the future by accepting “blame” yourself.

Loyalty is a two-way street. After the warm goodbyes and mental expletives, it is worth taking a hard look at whether the value your company offers employees still aligns what they (especially high potentials) are looking for.

According to a new report from Right Management, Fulfilling Careers Instead of Filling Jobs: How Successful Companies Are Winning The Competition For Talent In The Human Age, two thirds of the factors that motivate performance at work are tied to career conversations and development opportunities.

Companies that train managers to deliver these effectively, have 29% higher revenue, lower turnover and talent acquisition costs, and stronger customer loyalty.

The report argues there has been a fundamental shift in how employees see their jobs and careers generally. The rewards companies historically offer for loyalty — pensions, pay raises, job-security, etc. — continue to diminish. Top talent is more conscious of developing their personal brand, and are looking for jobs that help improve their skills and increase their long-term employability and wages.

As Mara Swan, global leader of Right Management and Executive Vice President of ManpowerGroup, puts it, “People rightly see their skills, experience, social networks and ideas as assets. If companies aren’t helping cultivate them further, employees will look elsewhere.”

So what’s an employer to do?

The Right Management report takes offers a few recommendations to employers.

1) Enable employees

Provide access to tools and resources like self-guided training that enable employees to develop skills and build capabilities. Help them manage their own careers in ways that increase their engagement and drive value for the organization.

2) Conduct Ongoing Career Conversations

Train managers how to have meaningful career conversations, sometimes known as “stay interviews”, and make it a requirement that is tracked and measured for success.

3) Create Individual Career Maps

Create individual career advancement plans for key talent based on the alignment between organization’s strategic goals and the employee’s career aspirations.

4) Facilitate Peer to Peer Coaching

Engage everyone in the shared goal of career development using tools such as peer to peer coaching that offers greater visibility and access to opportunities within the organization.

In the final analysis, employers need to step up if they want to attract and retain top talent. That weekly email you get from LinkedIn listing “jobs you may be interested in” is a constant temptation for anyone feeling like they have hit a dead-end at work.

Unless companies make a conscious effort to incorporate effective employee development techniques into their management strategies, they will continue to have low engagement and will struggle to recruit and retain top talent going forward.


Kevin Kruse is the creator of the Leading for Employee Engagement eLearning program for managers. and author of the bestselling book, Employee Engagement 2.0.