Let’s Talk: Why career conversations are key for retention

In today's fast-paced business world, employee retention has become a top priority for organisations.

Let’s Talk: Why career conversations are key for retention

In today’s fast-paced business world, employee retention has become a top priority for organisations. With competition for talent on the rise, companies are increasingly realising the importance of creating an environment that fosters professional growth and development. One powerful tool that can significantly contribute to employee retention is the implementation of regular career conversations.

The main purpose of a career conversation is to help a person explore their career options. It helps them identify both the skills and experience they already have and those they will need. It then helps them to create a plan to achieve their career goals that are mutually beneficial to themselves and their organisation.

All organisations are under a certain amount of pressure. They’re under pressure to grow. They’re under pressure to maximise performance. They’re under pressure to deliver results. However, there’s a challenge. While organisations want to maximise employees’ performance, employees want to maximise their careers. These goals are not one and the same.

Years of change, restructuring, outsourcing and downsizing have caused people to take a more active role in managing their careers. Employees at all levels face various career decisions daily, for example:

What opportunities are there for development and progression?

  • Will I stay or leave?
  • Will I change careers?
  • Will I pursue new projects?
  • Will I obtain another qualification?
  • Will I start up on my own?

In a rapidly changing work environment, the answers are not always obvious. It is in the context of this economic reality that helping employees to develop their careers assumes more significance, not less. Career management is about getting people to where they want to be and where the organisation needs them to be. If you want your people to be committed to the organisation, engaged with their work and driven to perform, you need to provide them with the tools and resources they need to manage their careers within the organisation.

Organisations sometimes focus so much on what employees need to do to meet the needs of the business that they lose sight of what the organisation needs to do to meet employees’ needs. Yet, this is crucial if you are going to be effective in retaining and developing talent within the organisation.

Career development is a tricky area for organisations. This is because it deals with the future and is a venture into the unknown. It is also deeply personal. Many managers worry that asking about careers may unsettle staff or even make them leave, but evidence shows that attending to career issues makes staff more loyal to the organisation and more productive (2018 Workplace Learning Report, LinkedIn).

Meaningfulness of work and the fit between a person and their job are two of the key drivers of engagement at work. Support your employees in managing their careers and they will feel connected to their work. They will feel valued for their contribution and motivated to contribute further. Their willingness to apply and increase their capability will be enhanced.

Career management in organisations is important whatever the state of the employment market. In a buoyant job market, it’s often easier for employees to leave a company than to manage their career internally. If the organisation doesn’t develop their careers, they quit physically and leave. In a tough economy, the bigger risk is that employees quit psychologically and stay! Supporting your employees in managing their careers isn’t just a ‘nice thing to do’ – it’s a business imperative. Investing in career conversations is an investment in the success and sustainability of the organization as a whole. So, let’s talk careers and empower our employees to thrive.

Antoinette Oglethorpe
Antoinette Oglethorpe

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