It’s been said that the war for talent is over. The talent has won, and they have demands—diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) being front and center. According to the CNBC|SurveyMonkey Workforce Happiness Index, 78 percent of the workforce says it’s “important” to work for an organization that prioritizes DEI, and 60 percent of employees want to hear their leaders speak out about social issues. And because of that, it has never been more important for organizations to make progress on their DEI goals. That means doubling down on their efforts to retain (and recruit) talent from underrepresented groups, where turnover is at an all-time high.
Data from the Bureau of Labor statistics reports that 47 million Americans have quit their jobs in the past 12-18 months. Many of these employees talked about not feeling inspired and engaged in their workplaces and wish they had more inclusive environments where there was greater potential for advancement in their careers.
Through Seramount’s work with our partners, we’ve learned that an abundance of opportunities for professional growth is a critical retention lever. Ninety-three percent of employees who are planning to leave in the next three years cite lack of professional growth opportunities as a top reason for their departure. Many employees don’t know where to go next in their careers and expect their employers to have all of the answers. Only 23 percent of talent from underrepresented groups receive adequate feedback on career development from their managers, and only 7 percent say they have clarity on their career path. And because of this, they are seeking greener pastures.
“Yes, corporate culture and work-life balance are very important,” says Dr. Laura Sherbin, managing director of consulting at Seramount. “But a career path allows employees to stick around long enough to appreciate a positive work culture and opportunities for work-life balance. Employers need to pay close attention to this and identify the root cause of their high turnover rates.”
Here are three things employers can do to promote career pathing:
Invest in TalentEmployees want to know that their employers care about their growth and development, and when they know that this is a priority, employees are more engaged. Career pathing helps talent develop their skills in their current job while expanding their capabilities, which could lead to a promotion or a new position in a different department. This results in engaged employees.
“Employees invest heavily in their careers for years, spending a majority of their adult lives working, some even sacrificing personal life for their work. I often think of it as a very reciprocal relationship where employees feel that their organizations (and their managers) are investing back in them. It’s a partnership in success and this is the connection that employees seek,” says Sherbin.
Help Managers Become People DevelopersEmployees expect their managers to have answers when it comes to advice on how to progress to the next level, and many are frustrated when they don’t have the desired information. It is critical for managers to become de facto people developers as this will help in retaining talent.
“Through our Employee Voice Sessions (EVS) employees tell us that recruiters from competitive companies are painting a rosy picture of what their career could be, filling that void. Managers need to do more than just have conversations about employee performance. They must help chart the path, be involved in the goal-setting process, and have conversations around potential and concrete next steps so that employees see a path for success for themselves,” added Sherbin.
Encourage Employees to Own Their CareerFor some, career and ambition were put on hold over the past two years when the pandemic was in full swing. Now, many are questioning what’s next (with many not knowing how to figure out what “next” actually is) but going to a manager with notebook and pencil in hand is not the way to own one’s career. Managers can’t do it alone. Employees must take some initiative.
“Managers can do a lot, but they are not psychic. What we hear from managers is that they can provide the steps or the route to get from point A to point B, but it needs to be on the employee to define where point B is for them. Managers don’t know what people want to do more (or less) of. They can’t predict what career success would look like for each employee. Managers can help chart the path, but the destination is for the employee to visualize,” says Sherbin.
Employees need to realize that career advancement is not a single action but an entire process where they must be active participants. Career advancement must be a true partnership between the employee and the organization and manager in order for all to succeed.