Career Management as an Employee Engagement Strategy

Roberta Neault and Deirdre Pickerell, CHRP

Today’s employees will change jobs (and, quite likely, career direction) numerous times throughout a lifetime of work. On the other hand, today’s employers are coping with skill shortages and the high costs of recruitment and selection – as much as 150% of each position’s annual salary1.  To further complicate matters, over 70% of workers are not engaged at work2

Career management can be an effective tool to increase employee engagement, thereby reducing employee turnover and the hiring costs. In this article, the benefits of using career management as an employee engagement strategy is highlighted and simple strategies for getting started are provided.

Effective career management is more than simply deciding on a career for life; it isn’t a static, one-time process. Instead it involves a continued focus on the workplace, the local and global labour market, industry trends and how individuals can find a “best fit for now” according to their skills, interests, values, and lifestyle considerations.

Employee engagement goes beyond “the numbers” of how many employees are hired and how many leave an organization. It is about employees being committed, productive, and loyal. An engaged employee is more likely to commit the time and energy to help an organization succeed – and also to recommend the organization to others, both potential employees and customers. Perhaps most importantly, engagement has been linked to productivity. In a “Watson Wyatt study (2002), high-commitment organizations out-performed those with low commitment by 47%”.3 A focus on employee engagement may be the difference between businesses prospering or just barely getting by.

So, how can career management help? Employees feel valued when their employer is interested in retaining their skills and willing to invest in their futures. Also, a “good career fit” can result in better job performance, increasing productivity.

Career management in the workplace includes:

  • Supporting employees’ career related goals
    Do your employees see roles for themselves, within your organization, in the short and long term?
  • Communicating organizational goals
    Are the career goals of your employees “in-synch” with organizational goals? If not, why not? If yes, has that been communicated to the employees?
  • Ensuring opportunities for movement within organization
    Are employees aware of current and potential opportunities in your organization? Do you provide cross-training and internal mentoring opportunities?

Career management at work doesn’t have to break the budget. Relatively passive career management strategies include:

  • Supporting and encouraging the active self-management of careers
  • Encouraging cross-training
  • Helping interested employees learn more about other areas of the organization
  • Incorporating career-related conversations into employee reviews
  • Do you enjoy your current job? Is it challenging enough? Where do you see yourself in five years?

A more active career management program might include career related workshops and services for all or selected employees, or supporting individual employees seeking the services of a career management professional or coach. Workshops and services can be provided completely in-house by HR professionals / trainers, in-house but facilitated by external consultants / coaches, or outsourced to external career management specialists. 

Perhaps a first step is to begin to build a culture of career development – a workplace that supports active management and development of careers. Encourage employees to identify career opportunities internally. Employees who perceive no future for themselves within an organization will be vulnerable to enticing external opportunities. Don’t risk losing valuable intellectual capital by having good employees leave because they see no future. Use career management strategies to build employee engagement, which in turn contributes to increasing both productivity and employee retention – two big issues for today’s employers.

1 http://iqpartners.com/WhyIQPartners/IQPNews_Sept_2005_ROI_of_Recruiters.htm

2 http://www.leadershipadvantage.com/employeeEngagement.shtml

3 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Employee_engagement

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  1. Kathrina Maika A. Montayre May 12, 2016 at 3:31 am · · Reply

    Hi! I’m Kath. I find the reading material you posted to be useful but for some companies, these ideas are hard to buy.

    I’ve been in the HR field for a year now. The current organization I am in needs a lot of help especially in revolutionizing its approaches to career management since it has been running around the traditional circle of outdated business practices. Like its more of a profit oriented organization for 30 years, if your know what I mean. Fortunately, now it is slowly transitioning itself to the new ways of business approach. Being in the training, this alone is alarming to me. I do want to put your ideas into action because to me, its what organizations need nowadays. How do you push such programs to Top Management in the context of the situation I narrated?

    I would like to hear your thoughts on this. Thank you.

    -Kath

    • Roberta Neault December 5, 2017 at 11:34 am · · Reply

      Kath – I’m so sorry for not responding sooner. I wasn’t notified of your question and just stumbled across it now. In my experience, management will embrace the concept of the importance of career management/development when it’s presented as a solution to real problems rather than as a perk or something “nice to do.” Figuring out what problems your top management team is trying solve would be the first step (e.g., are there concerns around productivity, recruitment, retention, re-skilling?). Once their top priority problems are identified, career programs and services can be presented strategically as a targeted solution.

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