“Creating career paths that are well communicated and understood by employees is not something most companies do well. Even in the best-case scenario where managers are holding regular performance reviews with their employee, employees often don’t understand how to move either horizontally or vertically in an organization,” said Efron.
Our 2013 Employee Engagement Trends Report and 21 Employee Turnover Insights had similar findings. Professional growth and career development opportunities came in as one of the top six drivers of engagement, and the turnover study found that same item to be the second most unfavorable by exited employees.
This really isn’t a surprise. As humans, we are driven to grow, to learn, to become more than we are, and that is especially true of top talent. But how do employees view growth opportunities? What are their preferences?
Our recent study, Employee Development Planning: How to Keep Them Happy and Engaged With Programs They’ll Love, sought to answer these questions. Consider the following insights when designing your employee development plans:
When asked whether professional development was the employee’s or manager’s responsibility, 81 percent of respondents said the responsibility was shared. Human resource professionals can help facilitate this shared responsibility by providing managers with conversation starters and questions to ask about career growth aspirations and interests.
Fifty-four percent rated job-specific training as their top choice for content, followed by technology training at 20 percent, people skills training at 16 percent, and academic learning at 10 percent. Interestingly, engaged and hostile employees were slightly more interested in people skills training than contributing and disengaged employees.
The survey examined 11 types of professional development opportunities, including allotment for resources, coaching from a team member, coaching from boss, internal company training, mentoring programs, multi-day conferences, one-day conferences, online courses, shadowing opportunities, tuition reimbursement for college credit, and webinars. The top five preferred formats were 1) tuition reimbursement for college credit, 2) internal company training, 3) mentoring programs, 4) multi-day conferences, and 5) coaching from boss
Of the most disengaged, hostile employees, 72 percent said they weren’t receiving enough development opportunities, compared to only 43 percent of engaged employees. While the majority of engaged employees (53 percent) say they receive the right amount of career development, improvement could definitely be made across the board.
As a major driver of employee engagement, career growth should be included as an element in your annual employee engagement survey. If your organization receives low ratings in this area, the next step to improvement is employee engagement action planning. Require managers to have further discussion on career development with their teams. The goal is to discover why current efforts aren’t working and what employees would prefer. Take their feedback, and use it for good. It may cost some time and maybe even some money, but the payoff of engaged, more productive employees is more valuable.