At the Best Companies, Career Management Is In Sharp Focus

Almost one-third of companies report skilled worker turnover of more than 10%. This means that the very people an organization needs the most are the most likely to leave.

Highly Skilled Worker Turnover Rates

Source: Brandon Hall Group Skill Gaps Study
Source: Brandon Hall Group Skill Gaps Study

In today’s hyper competitive talent market, highly skilled employees are highly sought- after and therefore have many employment choices. As the data shows, they are taking advantage of them. They are quick to pursue other opportunities when their first opportunity falls short of their development expectations. In fact, lack of development was cited by more than a quarter of organizations in our research as a “top 5” reason for their poor organizational results in talent retention.

Primary Reasons for Turnover

Source: 2015 Brandon Hall Group Talent Shortage Study
Source: 2015 Brandon Hall Group Talent Shortage Study

That turnover statistic is scarier when looking only at Millennials. Nearly 40% of organizations predict a higher or significantly higher turnover of Millennials in the next 12 months. Almost 60% of organizations report poor, or only fair, engagement of their Millennials.

The best organizations are careful about getting the turnover reduction and engagement increase balance just right by investing in employees’ growth and skill development. These organizations are investing to win the ultimate prize: the retention of engaged top talent.

For these high-performance organizations, career management is not a guarantee of promotion. It’s about planning (career exploration, personal interest inventories, skills assessments), development (building skills, experiences and relationships), and execution (completion of development plans and transitioning into new roles). Together these processes can dramatically improve alignment between employees’ capabilities and interests and the organization’s needs. The process today looks markedly different than its earlier version.

Career Management Practices Yesterday and Today

Traditional Career Management Practices Today’s Career Management Practices
Planning for employment for life Planning for today’s gig
Career ladder progressing upward in a linear fashion Career lattice progressing up, down, and/or sideways
Internal, paper-based job postings Intranet-accessible job banks
Static training classes completed in an ad hoc, reactionary fashion Formal mentoring programs and dedicated attention from senior leaders to “show the ropes”
Off-the-shelf career interest inventories Personalized skills benchmarking assessments
Success measured by upward progress and increase in salary Success measured by perpetual growth in knowledge & experience
In the classroom, formal learning and development offered periodically On-the-job learning and experience building offered continuously and supported by relationships and networks
Next-level job definition Full career mapping plans for job roles
No integration with succession management, performance management, or L&D Fully integrated with succession management, performance management, L&D and other talent processes
No, or very limited, focus on building personal brand All about building personal brand
Doing what you’ve been told to do and know how to do Doing what you are good at and being given the opportunity to learn how to do it better
Limited career information available All career information is widely available and broadcast to all employees across the enterprise
No focus on creating large, diverse talent pools Focused on creating large, diverse talent pools

                                                                                                                  Source: 2015 Brandon Hall Group

Effective execution of today’s career management practices is a responsibility of organization, the manager, HR, and the employee.

The Organization’s Role

The organization is responsible for establishing and sustaining a culture that encourages and invests in continuous employee development and experience-building. Through governance, organizational leadership makes decisions about how best to develop managers as coaches, map multiple career paths (not just upward paths), and make career information readily accessible to employees on a variety of platforms, including mobile devices. The organization finds ways to reward managers who actively support employee development and encourage movement of employees to new roles.

The Manager’s Role

Managers are accountable for continuous coaching and mentoring and making time to provide employees with the attention and insights they seek about their development, their growth, and their next work opportunity. They actively support individualized employee growth and development plans and encourage mobility of employees into roles that will best leverage their skills. They serve as on-call advisors, offering insights to ensure the employees’ development plans and aspirations stay on track in alignment with business needs.

HR’s Role

HR stewards the career management process. It provides and clarifies career management information, and offers assistance to employees using internal career management tools. Staff members provide career interest inventories and skills assessments and offer advice to employees considering a career change.

The Employee’s Role

Employees take initiative to seek new work challenges. They cultivate and nurture relationships and build networks internal and external to the organization. They initiate dialogues with senior leaders to gain insights and perspectives. And they market their expertise, building their personal brand.

When all four constituents come together to implement contemporary career management, the results are an increase in employee engagement and retention of top talent. Employers who fail to prioritize career development and set clear paths for their employees’ continuous growth and development will continue to struggle with detrimental turnover and can expect significant sacrifice of business performance.

What is your organization’s stand on career management? Do you have all stakeholders rallied around it? What changes are needed in your culture to launch and sustain a modern-day approach to career management?

Until next time…

Laci Loew
VP and Principal Analyst, Talent Management
Brandon Hall Group

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