New Study Shows Career Opportunities Crucial But Too Often Neglected

New Study Shows Career Opportunities Crucial But Too Often Neglected

Few opportunities are more motivating to talented employees than the possibility of career advancement and the financial and emotional benefits that brings. Yet despite the clear value of career opportunities in attracting and retaining top talent, a new study shows that most organizations are missing the mark when it comes to meeting this crucial employee need.

This summer Towers Watson released its 2014 Global Talent Management and Rewards Study, a survey of over 1,600 organizations, including 337 U.S. companies. Their conclusion? Companies consistently receive “low marks” when it comes to “career advancement opportunities – a top driver of both attraction and retention.”

Thinking back to my own management days, I can say unequivocally that few employee incentives were as powerful as the prospect of substantive career advancement. It’s almost always meaningful. Yet given its near-universal appeal, it’s surprising how often companies get it wrong.

The study notes that career advancement is a key driver of attraction and retention globally, with high-potential employees describing it as “a top reason for joining a company.” Despite this clear message, the data indicates many companies don’t execute well the mechanics of providing necessary support for career management. According to the survey data:

– “A mere 43% say their companies have defined vertical career paths.” (My own simple observation: How can management hope to motivate anyone who wants to go somewhere when there’s no way to get there?)

– “Only 33% of employers say managers are effective at conducting career development discussions”

– “A very low 27% say their organizations monitor the effectiveness of their career management programs”

In short, many companies lack both infrastructure and management expertise when it comes supporting career growth – even though they’re aware, at least at senior levels, that such career-related support makes a difference. Not surprisingly, 65% of companies responding to this survey report problems attracting top performers, and 54% have difficulty retaining top performers.

How does the study suggest that companies improve career management operations? Recommendations include:

-“Ensure their career architecture and career maps not only reflect HR and business strategies but also provide a framework for communicating with employees”

-“Train managers to identify and communicate career opportunities tailored to each employee’s skills and experience”

-“Track and measure the effectiveness of career management programs”

Such measures all sound pretty basic and reasonable, but as I’ve often said before when it comes to management, just because something is common sense doesn’t mean it’s commonly practiced. Until the numbers in a survey like this improve, it’s safe to assume that at a macro level companies will continue to have problems with employee frustration and disengagement – and, most importantly, keeping the people they most want to.

Source: Forbes / Victor Lipman

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