Create a Career Path to Retain Employees

Header_LosingEmployeesby Erin Palmer

How Creating a Career Development Plan Can Retain Employees

A recent survey released by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and revealed that HR professionals and managers are gearing up for a mass exodus of employees they feel is inevitable when the job market begins to improve. When asked why they would look elsewhere for work, employees cited three main reasons: over 50% said they were looking for better compensation and benefits, 35% admitted they were dissatisfied with their current career path, and 32% said they needed a new experience with new challenges.

Recruiters and executives would be wise to address these dissatisfactions in an effort to not only hire the best candidates, but retain them as well. Making your company a place that employees want to be at long-term will reduce employee turnover. The poor economy brought these well-qualified employees to your doorstep. Now it’s your job to keep them.

Retaining employees starts with the recruiting process

Today’s employers are faced with an ugly truth: The job market is widening as the labor force is shrinking. According to a recent article in the Washington Post, the percentage of Americans in the labor force has been declining for more than a decade. In 2000, 67.3 percent of Americans had a job or were actively seeking work. Since then, it has fallen to 63.6 percent.

With fewer candidates available, it’s more important than ever for recruiters to hire and groom employees at the same time. In order to retain a valuable team member, recruiters must help them completely buy into the company’s philosophy and culture. From the very onset, employees must be made to feel they belong and are a part of an organization that is in alignment with their own values and career goals.

Why career development planning is important for employee retention

As mentioned earlier, one of the biggest factors for improving employee retention is presenting a clear and present career path. People within your organization need to not only understand there is room to grow, but that efforts will be made from the top down to facilitate that career growth. Creating loyalty is about thinking beyond salary and figuring out how to get your employees to genuinely care about the business.

Having a career development plan in place shows employees that you value them for the work they are able to do now as well as what they might be able to offer your organization long-term. Also, having a well defined career path empowers employees and provides logical steps to pursue advancement.

A career development plan strengthens links between the employee and the company.  

There have been many studies over the years which have looked at the various reasons why people leave their jobs, and these insights can offer value to the discussion of employee turnover and retention. But another insight, why employees stay at a job, can perhaps offer even more.

One of the greatest reasons people stay within an organization is because they have formed multiple connections to others within the company. Leaving a job in this situation means leaving a network of professionals with whom they have formed strong bonds. In this way, employees become embedded in the organization’s culture and vice versa.

Clearly defined career paths can help attract new hires.

Today’s job market is becoming an increasingly competitive hiring environment. Fewer candidates are available to fill job openings, and attracting top candidates means your organization has to compete with others vying for the same top talent.

While many companies focus on salary and benefits packages as a way to attract new hires, smart recruiters know they need to offer more in the way of career development planning. As seen in the previously-mentioned study, many employees care as much about potential advancement within a company as they do about financial compensation.

Build the company’s positive reputation as a place where people can grow professionally.

As you most likely are aware, employees can become some of your biggest brand ambassadors. That is, if they are satisfied. Creating a positive work environment with actual potential for advancement will not only keep your current employees happy, but those employees will help build your organization’s reputation for being a place where individuals’ strengths are recognized and cultivated.

Tips for creating a career development plan

In order to have a successful career path in place for your employees, you must understand your employees’ point of view; you need to see things as they do.

What makes your top talent feel successful?

Once you know this key insight, you can figure out how to help them achieve their career goals.

Employees must be offered a culture within your organization that is inclusive and provides multiple avenues and opportunities for growth. Consider putting into place a mentoring program which will demonstrate your commitment to their advancement while providing the guidance and knowledge needed to achieve that growth.

Finally, one of the most important changes you can make is in the yearly review process. This is an opportunity to make your team members feel their opinions matter. These reviews should not only be used as a way to offer employees feedback, but as a way of gathering feedback from them which can ultimately help your organization be successful.

In today’s job market your company needs every advantage over the competition. Obviously this means retaining the amazing talent you have collected over the last several years. If you want to retain this top talent, don’t just think about compensation and benefits. You need to offer a true career path, a comfortable environment and a means for each and every employee to reach their professional goals.

This guest post was provided by Erin Palmer. Erin writes about masters in business administration programs for U.S News University Directory. She also covers topics such as HR degree programs for University Alliance.


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  1. 3 Charles 22 Feb
    Nice article, Erin! A career development plan is important if one wants to discover and develop his career potential in the workplace.
  2. 2 umerhayat 14 Sep
    nice this post thank share this article check this post
  3. 1 Majeed 10 Sep

    Thanks Erin for highlighting the key reasons for employees to leave business and how to tackle them .

    i wonder what comes first while making the decision to leave ! is it compensations and benifits or lack of clear career path ?




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