According to Gallup, 87% of Millennials and 69% of non-Millennials rate career growth and development as important or very important. Now more than ever, with much of the workforce working remotely, leaders need to find new ways to virtually engage their teams, instill confidence and promote flexible environments for career growth.
12 industry experts talk about their top strategies when it comes to their career development programs and how they are supporting their employees growth and career aspirations right now.
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Make it a priority
Employees will focus on the future of their careers and their own development whether their leaders help them or not. If they can’t get what they need from their organization in terms of career development or succession planning, they will likely leave. Since you have already invested so much in attracting and training your employees, don’t stop now… communicate the importance of career growth and development and then demonstrate your commitment to it by empowering them with self-serve tools they need to continue to learn and develop. It doesn’t have to be a ton of work for you, and it will result in engaging and retaining your best people.
Jamie Schneiderman, Career Spark
Focus on Skillset Not Title Attainment
To improve retention and job satisfaction for any generation, focus on the SKILL growth opportunities vs. the title attainment. More people are interested in self-improvement and companies who offer (and pay for) the ability to grow than they are in traditional promotion for a title and that corner office.
Tracy L. Bullock, Bullock Training & Development
Encourage Side Projects
Some managers see this as scary, and they don’t want an employee’s time devoted to business activities outside of work, but it encourages employees to learn and grow something they’re passionate about entirely on their own.
Michael Norris, Youtech
Communication Is Critical
Early on, an open line of communication should be established between new hires and leadership. Not only does an open line of communication help new hires feel connected and appreciated, but it also helps maintain a culture of honesty and openness. When the workplace is filled with positive and dynamic employees, they are more likely to be engaged and feel an investment in their career growth.
Michelle Baker, Swoon Group
Recognize the Value of Maintaining a Solid Workforce
Many smaller or less mature organizations fail to recognize the value of maintaining a solid workforce. Attrition is expected and accepted. Mature organizations understand that the value of recruiting, hiring, training, and bringing an employee up to a solid level of productivity is expensive. So, by making an effort to understand what type of career growth each individual expects, and making an effort to help them get there (or having a coaching session to outline realistic expectations) you endear your employees to the company. People don’t leave companies, they leave people. In a nutshell, take the time to ask the employee career development questions, and sooner is always better.
Kelly Chapman, Kegelbell
Prioritize Employee Education
Listen to what your employees want to learn. Invest in their education. This can mean funding a conference, paying for an online course, or creating a workshop to train them in the area they show interest in. Career development doesn’t necessarily mean getting a promotion. It can also mean learning those foundational skills that take someone to the next level through education.
Janine Davis, Tea with Qwns Podcast
Don’t Limit Curiosity
As a start-up, we don’t have stringent guidelines for what a role can and cannot do or limit someone’s curiosity based on what position they were hired in. Our marketing coordinator was interested in learning more about the product, now he’s joining the pre-sales team part-time and conducting demos with our prospects. By understanding the system better, he can write content with a more in-depth view of functionality and what customers are asking for in demos. Similarly, our compliance analyst wanted to start promoting our business on social media. She now runs our social platforms and is working on video production to better round out our marketing efforts. Her background in compliance helps us speak to customer requirements from a different perspective. We all benefit from cross-training and letting others learn more about the inner workings of our business.
Megan Chiamos, Cannabis ERP Software
Growth and development need a timeline. Adding specific data in which a goal will be accomplished inspires action, and provides a measurement on whether “development” was achieved. Companies first need to set the goal with the employees, and then mutually decide when that goal will be achieved. The only thing left to consider after that is accountability.
John Yardley, Threads
Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is
You can tell employees that career growth and development are important, but if you’re not actively giving them opportunities to achieve that growth, you’re only getting half of their potential. Make sure you understand a person’s career interests during the interview process and try to stay open-minded about the journey you can provide them.
Megan Trombino, Fair Folk
Invest in Your Employees and They Will Invest in You
Send people to conferences to learn not just to network. Instead of just hiring a consultant to complete a task, ask if the consultant is willing to teach your team how to do the task (if possible). And before you’re looking for a new position, consider what the next hires will be. Is there someone on the team currently who could be a good fit but they’re not quite there yet? Let them know what it will take for them to earn that role. They will either step up to the plate or they won’t – most of the time they step up to the plate.
Meagan DeMenna, Validity
Jungle Gyms Versus Ladders
Growth-minded individuals often value training and exposure over tenure perks. I’ve seen amazing things from my corporate clients that structure their development programs like jungle gyms versus ladders. These programs prioritize the individual’s skills, abilities and interests over job titles, and backfill any gaps with training, shadowing programs, and coaching.
Maisha Hagan, Beauty & the Boss, LLC
Keep it Clear
Have a clear career trajectory with key milestones identified. When people have an established path they ultimately feel like they have more control and guidance on the way forward. You can also provide additional coaching through a mentorship program for those who are interested along the way.
Rex Murphey, Montauk Services
Career Spark’s Mission: Getting everyone in their right jobs to drive success at work.
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