Rohan interviewed for a position as a software engineer at a leading technology organization. A few minutes into the interview, when the interviewer asked about his expectations from the role, he swiftly expressed a desire to work in a project-based culture across roles, teams and locations. Do you witness similar expectations from candidates day in and day out?
As workforce 2020 is comprised majorly of millennials like Rohan, the spotlight is on adapting our strategies to their demands and aspirations. According to Future Workplace Multiple Generations@Work, 91% of millennials expect to stay in a job for less than 3 years. And as one dives into what makes them take the plunge, a PwC study states that 52% of millennials rate good opportunities for career progression as the top reason an employer is attractive.
While these statistics may signify a huge setback to the engagement and retention initiatives, a different way to look at this challenge is to ask, “What if employees could find career progression opportunities within the same organization?”
According to a CIPD report, many people will be preparing for their next role even as they pursue their current roles. Hence investing in coaching, mentoring, learning opportunities and career progression is critical to getting employees ready to take up different roles, not just upwards but also across the breadth of the organization. Additionally, providing career progression opportunities helps enhance employee engagement, thereby reducing the need for additional discretionary effort.
So what learning opportunities can organizations provide to support internal career progression for millennials? Beyond making the off-the-shelf training material available for multiple subjects and topics, here are four things that organizations can do to support internal talent mobility through learning:
- Career pathing – As millennials take charge of their own careers and look beyond their roles, helping them build career paths to explore roles within the organization and gain differentiating experience required to move up the ladder is the key to building an engaged workforce. To support career pathing, organizations need to enable development programs that help build those skills required for employees to succeed as they move across the depth and breadth of roles.
- Counselor-based approach – Some of the most progressive organizations are adopting a counselor- based approach to help grow and develop employees within the organization. A counselor or mentor who is separate from one’s line manager is invested in building an employee’s skill portfolio as per his/her career goals. The counselor also helps the employee find opportunities for development within the organization – a win-win for both the employee and organization. But what’s in it for counselors? Their success as a counselor can become part of the business’ performance and rewards systems.
- Opportunities to learn in special task forces (STF) - The paradigm shift from a hierarchical organizational structure to a network of teams is taking the workforce to a more project-based or “at-the-moment” approach. The project teams are no longer characterized as traditional cross-functional teams but as STFs that brings together a set of skilled experts for a period of time to solve a business problem. Providing opportunities to employees to be a part of such teams and pick up a variety of skills as a part of their own portfolios should be a part of a learning agenda that supports mobility.
- Supporting mobility through coaching and mentoring – As career growth today moves in every direction and not just upwards, another aspect to supporting internal mobility is that leaders need to be enabled to coach and mentor employees moving in from different roles. Organizations today are focusing on developing programs and reward schemes for leaders who act as coaches and mentors.
While enabling skill-based mobility has its own benefits, a critical challenge that organizations need to focus on is identifying the right employees who can actually build a portfolio of skills and use it to make a business impact. According to Josh Bersin, organizations need to be wary of people "moving from place to place" and never being held accountable for their work. Hence, mechanisms need to be in place to identify such employees to maximize the benefits of skill-based talent mobility.