Once upon a time the answer to the above question was fairly straightforward: you simply led employees up the career ladder, one step at a time. Not anymore. Now, with people switching jobs (and careers) frequently, you need to ensure your company is offering effective career development. We spoke to some experts to find out how.
What’s the biggest development you’ve noticed in career support over the past 20 years?
John Lees (author of How To Get A Job You Love): “Career development has changed over the past 20 years in a number of ways – it’s become increasingly focused on flexibility. Employee engagement has also become an important measure of success. As organisations have become leaner and flatter, the opportunities for promotion are fewer. This often results in requests for career support. As the market tightens employers are becoming increasingly aware of the risks of losing talented staff.”
Teresa Cann (Senior Learning and Development Consultant, Cordant Group): “The need for instant gratification – people are no longer prepared to stay in roles that they do not find satisfying and make decisions to try something new very quickly. People’s expectations to be able to move jobs within the organisation and receive access to training opportunities are also far higher.”
What does a modern employee actually require from an employer, then?
Ben Andrzejewski (Talent Acquisition Manager, Cordant Group): “The general candidate population wants more from their employer. Expectations are greater and we, the employer, need to provide not only enhanced working environments and benefits, but also offer individuals structured and clearly defined career opportunities. If you are unable to meet the expected criteria then employees will look externally. The rise of social media, particularly LinkedIn, means that new job opportunities are constantly visible to professionals. You have a constant feed of information promoting new opportunities, with ‘excellent employee benefits’. The subliminal message we receive on a daily basis through business-related media is that there is a better position out there for you.”
Do you find you need to allow employees to personalise their learning more, then?
Teresa Cann: “Yes, bespoke training to business areas and job roles is key. Tailored development plans based on an individual’s abilities and aspirations are a standard part of our managers’ commitment to developing employees.”
Have you ever found that it’s not worth providing career-focused training since it doesn’t always produce a return on investment?
Ben Andrzejewski: “It depends on how ROI is measured. Training, or at least the investment of training, always promotes how we value employees, which in itself can provide ROI through employee engagement.”
So what practical training opportunities have you found attract new recruits?
John Lees: “Sensible career conversations can look at a range of options including personal development, role expansion, secondment or transfer, attempting to ensure that staff explore all options before moving on. A big strand in career coaching has become helping people to reinvent themselves in response to rapid changes in the workplace.”
Teresa Cann: “Industry-related professional qualifications and longer term development programmes, such as 12-month programmes rather than ad hoc short courses.”
Ben Andrzejewski: “Graduate jobs as opposed to graduate schemes are a huge pull for prospective employees. Graduate schemes historically gave candidates an opportunity for continued learning in the practical workplace; the downside being that there would not always be a job at the end. With more companies now offering both in-house and external partnered learning as part of a salaried job, graduate jobs are winning the competition with graduate schemes.”
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