Why employers need to step up career development efforts

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Employers have the capacity to make a major impact on their employees, yet a mere 14% strongly believe their companies are helping employees reach their full potential.

Companies that deploy three key practices — recognizing employees for their successes, asking for employee feedback regularly and creating a collaborative team environment — are two times more likely to enable employees to reach their full potential, according to “How HR Pros View the Workforce” survey from HR.com and well-being company LifeWorks.

“Employees are just thirsty to get recognized, and it doesn’t have to be with cash,” says Mark Malis, head of global human resources at LifeWorks. “It doesn’t have to be expensive stuff to move the needle forward.”

In fact, 76% of employees who do not feel valued are looking for other job opportunities, according to the report.

“Companies that do not provide professional development are at a competitive disadvantage,” according to the report. “About 63% of employees feel like their particular employer invests in their future. Among those who do not receive it, however, more than 70% are willing to find it elsewhere. So the large portion of companies that are not focusing on it are more likely to lose employees to turnover.”

See also: Why career development should be a big benefit priority

Meanwhile, employees are almost three times as likely to be viewed as committed to their own development if the employer is as well, according to the survey.

The survey, which polled 824 employers, found that failing to recognize employees is expensive and increases turnover.

The burden to keep employees engaged falls on middle managers, who “are in the trenches almost every day,” Malis says.

“The reality is middle managers have to spend more times being in front of their employees and having the right conversations,” he says. “If you can start connecting the dots, it’s a game changer. You’re showing a level of interest in the employee, who has a pretty clear road map.”

However, if middle managers aren’t properly supported by the executive team, company culture can become toxic.

“There’s a lot of cloudiness that happens in organizations that’s prompting middle managers to get more engaged,” Malis says. “What gets compromised through that is the healthy level of conversations. Employers are losing an opportunity relative to engagement and starting to have disenchanted employees.”

Employers said they need to make strides in building and maintaining a positive workplace culture (59%), embracing transparency and open communication (55%), creating an environment that encourages collaboration (54%) and asking staff for feedback, either from surveys or one-on-one discussions (54%).

“The vast majority [of employers] knew that culture is critical, and that’s encouraging,” Malis says.

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Professional development Employee relations Employee engagement Employee communications Employee retention