Is Career Development a Key Motivator for Employee Retention?

Posted by Heba Asaad on October 27, 2016

Coworkers at computer

Being an employee, the first thing you will think of when considering staying or changing your job is the WIIFM approach. This basically stands for, as a job seeker, “what’s in it for me” to take this new role, whether it is an internal or external role. Job seekers can have different priorities in terms of key motivators. Keeping this in mind, what is the key motivator to retain employees?

There are a lots of different reasons as to what helps retain an employee, which we will delve into in this blog series, but the key/driving factor is Career Development. Career Development deals with the progression of an employee in their career. This is something that, “over the past two decades organizations have encouraged their employees to be career self-reliant. They’ve been telling employees to ‘take charge’ of their own careers and not rely on the organization to provide guidance” (https://www.eremedia.com/tlnt/6-ways-you-can-help-your-employees-facilitate-their-career-success/). While this works to some extent, the changing expectations of employees in the workplace requires greater collaboration. While I do believe that employees must take charge, the organization/company needs to help facilitate the process by providing clarity and opportunity.

There are different motivating factors to help retain employees that relate to their career development, such as:

  • Higher income as they grow in a role at their company
  • Growth opportunities in titles with the company
  • And a new one, when the employee feels appropriate to move

In the Harvard Business Review, they found “New research conducted by CEB, a Washington-based best-practice insight and technology company, looks not just at why workers quit but also at  the timing of the decision or the when. “We’ve learned that what really affects people is their sense of how they’re doing compared with other people in their peer group, or with where they thought they would be at a certain point in life,” says Brian Kropp, who heads CEB’s HR practice. “We’ve learned to focus on moments that allow people to make these comparisons.”  (https://hbr.org/2016/09/why-people-quit-their-jobs)

With today’s technology becoming more advanced and with social media connecting more people together either personally or professionally, it is hard to retain employees when they feel that they should be moving forward when different life events occur (either a birthday, an anniversary, the pressure from others that they see). This goes back to the earlier statement about the “what’s in it for me” mentality that drives employees to the different choices they make in their career. Below is a list of ways that I believe companies can work with their employees even during these times and remind them what they can do to stay.

  1. Better communication of internal opportunities:  Senior management knows and hears from their employees and managers what is working and what isn’t working for their team. They can then help build and create opportunities within different departments to help encourage their employees to get other internal responsibilities, while creating a culture that is more unitive with new paths that are similar to the job role employees are currently in or wanting to explore. But make sure that this is a career path the employee will want to take on before assigning. It is very important that managers understand the importance of their role when helping employees understanding their career goals and opportunities. Managers should not only assign tasks that their employees know how to do but assign tasks that will help them grow and could create career advancement.  
  2. The value of a 9-box: Learning your employees’ capabilities and recognizing their career development at an early stage is very important to the success of your employees’ careers and to the growth of the company. The 9-box is a valuable tool in not just this stage but as the employee grows in the company because it better measures their strengths and weaknesses while also showing where the employee wants for their career.
  3. Customize your career: With your company create a career that has the balance that you need to lead a healthy lifestyle. For an employee’s personal sanity, companies should work well at creating a work and personal/family life balance that can comply well with the career path and job role that the employee is trying to take.
  4. Set clear employee expectations: By setting clear employee expectations, employees will be less frustrated when planning their career path by having more insight or vision on what is being planned. Also, this will help them assess if they have the right skills set for the position or if they would need further training.

Now you can never be prepared when an employee decides they want to leave, but creating some of these perimeters and benefits that show them what is in it for them will encourage them to stay at the company. Either growing in their role or experiencing other internal roles. As companies, we need to make sure we have the right policies, processes and tools to practice this. So how employee growth and development culture ready are you?