Retention Problem…? Perhaps it's a Career Development Problem

Although the job market is not as robust as it once was, companies still deal with issues retaining their top employees.  In fact, because the job market is not like it used to be, leaders often struggle with why they are still losing employees.  Why do their employees want to leave their current, secure job and take a risk someplace new?

Research on why employees leave companies has been conducted for many years and the answers always come back the same – the number one reason employees leave a company is because of an issue with their direct manager (or overall lack of leadership in the company) and the next reason is because they do not feel they have room to grow and develop their careers within that organization.  If your employees are seeking opportunities elsewhere (and they are not the employees you want to leave), you might want to look into your career development programs.  Do you have formal career development programs?  If not, it’s probably time to get some in place.  And if you do, you might want to think about making them more robust.

Career Development often gets mistaken for something that takes a lot of time and resources however, it can be as simple or as complex as you wish for it to be in your organization.  And, it is often the more simple things that seem to create the biggest impact for the employee.  Career Development can be as straightforward as a manager having a one-on-one conversation with an employee.  This conversation would be conducted to explore the employee’s career aspirations and discuss what they can realistically do to grow and advance inside that company to reach those aspirations.  “Realistically” means what the employee can do to fulfill their aspirations within the constraints of what the specific organization needs and can provide.

Career Development is much more than spending money to send an employee to a training course and can be as simple as giving them exposure to new projects and tasks that align with their aspirations.  It is also as simple as giving them exposure to mentors and other leaders and peers from whom they can learn.  The objective is to think broadly about what will actually develop that employee’s career within your company (in addition to and apart from a training course).  The objective is to spend time with the employee to understand what their career goals and objectives are and to explore options that can make reaching those goals possible.

It starts with the conversation between the employee and their manager.  Doing this one or two times per year and being actively engaged in the employee’s career development within your company can make a huge difference in the employee’s level of satisfaction and can limit their desire to seek opportunities elsewhere.  Your retention problem could very well be a career development problem and much more simple to amend than you realize.

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