Can employers benefit from helping staff move on in their careers?

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Professionals are less likely than ever before to stay with a single employer for their entire career. What can employers do to embrace this change, retaining their high performing staff for as long as possible and keeping them engaged at work?

Erica Sosna is CEO of Career Matters, Career Navigation Consultant and author of Your Life Plan.

She shared her experience and insight on how employers can benefit from encouraging their staff to honestly and openly discuss their ultimate career ambitions. 

Open and honest conversations

"The world of work is changing, and the way we think about work needs to change as well. Technology has allowed increased flexibility about where and when we work, and shifts in culture mean that the concept of a ‘job for life’ is becoming less and less relevant."

"For employers, this means that retaining staff over the long term is a bigger challenge than ever. Given the resources that are spent on recruiting, interviewing, onboarding and training new staff, businesses are understandably motivated to try to keep staff attrition as low as possible."

"However, few currently take advantage of a unique and simple approach that could help to achieve this. This missing approach is the ‘career coaching conversation’."

"Few professionals will choose to stay with one employer for their entire career, but that doesn’t mean that businesses can’t take steps to maximise the time that staff will stay with their business."

"Employers who engage with their staff to identify what they want to achieve in their careers can work with them to develop a plan to benefit both of them, helping their employees to gain the experience and skills that they want, while benefitting the business at the same time."

"While it may not be possible to retain a member of staff indefinitely, we know that professionals who feel that they are working towards their goals have lower rates of attrition and are more productive and engaged at work."

The right time, the right place and the right person

"For employers, knowing the right time to have these conversations can be difficult. Finding out early on what a new starter wants to achieve means that you can develop a career plan from the word go, but many new starters will be cautious about being completely open about their goals."

"In many cases, employers may want to wait until their staff are settled into their role and have built a positive working relationship before they start these conversations and ensure that they are separate from other regular appraisal discussions."

"It’s also important for employers to consider who is the right person to have these conversations with staff. Depending on their relationship with their line manager, some professionals may feel more comfortable speaking to someone from a different area of the business who might be able to give them more impartial feedback."

"Whoever you decide is the best person to have these conversations, providing them with training is vital. Few of us have experience in how to have conversations about to help people realise their career ambitions and knowing the right questions to ask and the right advice to give is essential to make these conversations productive."

"Creating an open and honest culture where staff feel free to discuss their career goals can yield huge benefits for employers. The important thing to remember is that if staff are not having these conversations at work, they will still be having them elsewhere."

"Encouraging your staff to share their ambitions freely means that you can find opportunities for them to pursue their goals while still achieving great things for your business."


Erica Sosna is the author of Your Life Plan, a featured TEDX speaker and CEO and Founder of Career Matters.

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