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Career development and career mapping helps equip individuals with the vision and drive to engage with their day-to-day roles. When individuals know where they are going in their career and what they have to do to achieve their vision for the future, it encourages greater performance and drives down employee turnover. Here we outline how to get this right.

Clear path to advancement

With skills shortages affecting various industries, retention is more important than ever. Equipping individuals with a clear path to advance within the company is crucial to fostering a pipeline of home-grown talent. It is interesting to consider how few employees who change jobs stay at the same company. Gallup estimated this was fewer than one in 10, with more recent research revealing that half of a company’s employees are looking to leave.

Making ongoing career mobility conversations a priority is crucial to developing the talent already at a company. Re-examining the role of employee development can provide employers with a significant advantage when it comes to attracting and retaining talent. When it comes to total reward strategies, candidates are looking for companies where their development is part of the proposition.

Career pathing

Employees need to be encouraged to consider:

  • What are my interests?
  • What are my goals?
  • What skills do I have?
  • How do these skills align to what I enjoy doing at work?
  • What further knowledge, education or training do I need?

When line managers can support employees in identifying the answers to these questions, the employee-employer relationship is strengthened on both sides. For the organisation, the benefits are numerous and enables them to attract and retain the right talent. McKinsey reports that 70 per cent of employees gain their sense of purpose from work. Therefore, career satisfaction is crucial to drive strong employee engagement that impacts the productivity and creativity of companies.

Fostering agile cultures

Management teams who offer accelerated development programmes on the job often foster more agile cultures. A commitment to recognising high performers often results in cultures that are responsive, acknowledging and promoting individuals invested in the success of both the company and their own career.

Training individuals for success from the outset through L&D programmes and giving them exposure to as much experience as possible is vital to building a strong pipeline of talent that is invested in their future at the company.

Crucially, ongoing learning opportunities can improve the impact individuals can make at their company. With AI and tech transforming the workplace, employees need to be equipped with the skills to address the latest trends and challenges. Continuous learning lets them deliver their best work, boosting career satisfaction, and in turn, employee engagement. With retaining top talent being a key priority of employers, targeted learning and development opportunities can foster a culture of shared learning, helping companies retain their greatest assets – their people.

Authentic development opportunities

Development should be part of an employer’s recruitment strategy. Employers who invest in employees see this return on investment in their recruitment and retention. Not only do current employees gain career satisfaction through the opportunities they are being offered; candidates are secure in the knowledge that they are joining a workplace dedicated to their professional development and ongoing growth.

However, it must be an authentic promise in order to truly drive employee retention. With Glassdoor and other employee forums, prospective candidates can easily check the reality against the promised culture. Once employees are on board, the learning and development opportunities on offer must align to their aspirations. Training employees for the work they are doing is the basic requirement, but training individuals for work they aspire to do, including leadership, is vital to give them the vision for how their future at the company could play out.

Timely career conversations

Line managers are often the gatekeepers to the company-wide strategy. It is often their ability to enthuse their teams with the company’s vision and what it means to the individual employee which is pivotal in the success of its delivery. Objectives for current roles can sit alongside a separate and dedicated development plan, helping individuals separate immediate deliverables from progression plans.

Alongside development plans, ongoing career conversations should regularly consider how the employee can grow with the company. Frequent and informal line management conversations can deliver timely feedback that employees can learn from as they evolve. They also encourage the employee to think about the wider market in which they operate, encouraging proactivity in their career journey from the earliest opportunities.

Communicating regularly can help managers understand the employee as an individual, helping them to meaningfully support their career trajectory. More routine and formal feedback that provides correction and encouragement is essential. All line managers need to be coached in providing effective feedback, which will help to retain employees for longer.

Up-skilling opportunities

Broad learning and development schemes can enable companies to keep talent that might otherwise be lost to higher salaries, more flexible working arrangements or more seniority being offered elsewhere. By giving people the chance to move to different departments, talented employees can be retained. With other departments and disciplines open to the employee through lateral moves, this may invigorate their commitment to the organisation and offer them a new path.

Mentoring schemes and internal secondments or rotational ‘seats’ are a good way of improving the network and profile of existing employees as they look to progress within an organisation. Cultivating these initiatives can be a good investment in talent programmes within the business. Coaching should be available to all employees, not just executives. 86% of professionals said that they would change jobs if a new company offered them more opportunities for professional development.

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