Article: Moving the wheels of employees’ career chariot out of the saturation pitfall

Learning & Development

Moving the wheels of employees’ career chariot out of the saturation pitfall

The Great Resignation is employees' obvious response to burnout, lack of inspiration, and the fear of the future. Here’s how organisations can evade quitting en masse and enable the talent to lead successful career journeys.
Moving the wheels of employees’ career chariot out of the saturation pitfall

Are we really witnessing the ‘great resignation’? A research by a Miami University professor shows that most of the full-time employees are only ‘considering’ leaving their jobs.

“Some 4 million people quit their jobs in April. But the spike in the quit rate is partly due to pent-up demand after two years of employees sitting tight during a volatile economic environment,” writes Scott Dust, PhD, a management professor at the Farmer School of Business, Miami University. 

In his research, Scott identified ‘Stagnation’ as one of the top reasons why employees are considering leaving their current firms. The limited opportunities for moving up in the organisation and burnout is nudging employees to relook at their career path and question their future plans. This urge takes them to job search sites and apply for other opportunities. Are you paying enough attention to these burned out employees? Are you taking keen interest in their shifting career priorities? If you aren’t, then you may indeed, witness the ‘great resignation’. 

Here’s how you can support your employees in their career transition phase: 

From career saturation to inspiration & growth

Nicolas Dumoulin, Managing Director of Michael Page India said, “Professionals are looking for assurance that they will have the ability to build their skill set through on-the-job learning and mentoring. With this in mind, businesses must provide a defined framework for training and upskilling of employees to not only retain existing workers but also secure new talent.”

The solution lies in the relevant reward and recognition scheme. A good motivation will be to implement a system of recognition and reward, suggested Nicolas. Employees in any industry want to feel that their work is worthwhile and that their contributions to the business are being recognised. Businesses that aren’t able to offer recognition in the form of generous salaries should instead look to initiatives like employee awards and bonuses for quantifiable achievements to assure employees that their work is valued.

Beyond policies, it is critical for leaders to take a step back and reflect if they are investing enough time to know their employees and address the challenges they face on a daily basis. 

Kim Seeling Smith, Future of Work Expert, Workplace Trend Translator, Leadership Expert & the Founder and CEO of Ignite Global shared a 5 step career development system to help talent leaders: 

  • Help them get into an emotionally neutral state of mind so they don't make decisions they may live to regret.
  • Help them understand their personal goals and create professional goals that support and align with personal goals.
  • Help them understand what they truly value in a job or career.
  • Help them understand and find a role that plays to their strengths.
  • Help them develop resilience.

Creating opportunities within that the talent seeks outside

Leaders can be mistaken that they know their employees. They have set a career path for them and they are planning to stick to it. But most often, priorities change, interests shift, and employees may not be happy with their current role and the expected growth within the organisation. 

As Kim said, “Most managers think they understand what their employees need and want in their career, but most don't do an adequate job of having the right conversations. As a result they miss out on presenting their staff with new opportunities and their staff leave.”

It is important to have regular conversations with your teams and gauge their career interests, be aware of their inhibitions and insecurities, and look for opportunities and gaps you need to guide them for. 

Kim highlighted, ‘The question, ‘Why do you want to switch careers?' is a very powerful question.’ The conversation can help both the manager and the employee co-create an opportunity that achieves all or part of what they think they want to achieve by switching careers.

“It’s imperative to have regular cadence around career conversation and enable teams working together to address learning on the job. More opportunities around internal career moves will help employees get organic growth,” reiterated Romita Mukherjee, Global Senior Director, HR, Whatfix. 

Mentorship programs, skills development programs, and internal job postings (IJPs) can help talent find relevant job opportunities within the current organisation. For employers, it helps them retain the best talent and enhance work relationships with their people.

For example, Rachel Smith, Head of People & Culture, Macquarie Telecom Group shared, ‘One of my own team was interested in getting into project management. We worked with them to complete the PRINCE2 practitioner certification programme – ultimately guiding them to a project management role in our Government team, working on major cloud and cyber security projects for government agencies.” 

At CommerceIQ, the team is surveyed for competencies and opportunities, shared Director HR Jyoti Gouri. What are the attributes and critical competencies of specific people, what are individuals’ desires for career growth, which people are well positioned for new opportunities, which people can benefit from additional training that would put them in line for new opportunities, is what the frim looks at. 

The real-time feedback helps CommerceIQ ensure that the development objectives are in line with individual performance and career aspirations. It also enables co-creation of realistically achievable career goals that further drives smooth transition. 

All work & no play/rest makes a disengaged team

In the last 18 months, the experience the entire workforce has gone through during the pandemic has nudged them to prioritise health, well-being, family time, among other things. Many employees can be seen quitting their jobs or switching their careers, as they expect to maintain work-life balance in one job/career over the other. 

Nicolas believes flexibility, family-friendly policies, and putting work-life balance on the table for discussion are key tools to induce work-life balance in today’s work environment. 

“Take time during one-on-one meetings to ask how employees feel they’re handling their workloads with their other responsibilities, and what you can do to facilitate a healthier work-life balance if needed,” added Nicolas. 

To tackle the burnout challenge, Jyoti suggested, ‘talent leaders must show empathy, provide an ongoing feedback loop and constantly communicate around objectives, metrics for success and frameworks that are simple and clear for people to understand.’

Follow these three simple steps:

  • Regular feedback from employees 
  • Partner with management team to drive employee health and well-being strategies 
  • Circle back with feedback, learnings, highlights and lowlights with employees in an all-hands setting. 

Facing the uncertain future, the fear of redundancy and potential job loss

As some sectors struggle to create jobs and some roles become obsolete, it becomes a necessity for a part of the workforce to relook at their career paths. Talent needs to be agile to shift and prepare for new roles to safeguard their jobs and have a career where they can grow. Talent leaders can play a key role in enabling employees identify these roles in demand and prepare them for the career transition. 

The pandemic era of work is a critical time to think about transferable skill sets. For instance, communication, problem solving, and effective organisational skills, are some of the key skills employers must invest in, according to Nicolas. 

The focus of talent leaders must be on creating a resilient workforce. While domain skills can be learned on the job and nurtured with specialised training when the time comes, the learnability quotient and the attitude to embrace change needs to be developed now. 

“Regardless of business or industry, talent leaders need to make the workplace exciting and give people the opportunity to hone skills they may have developed in schools or in other places,” added Jyoti. 

Talent leaders should identify attributes that are priceless and that can carry through across different roles and positions - people that are loyal, passionate, work hard, don’t shy away from new challenges; people that lean in naturally, have great attention to detail, that are self-motivated and curious - and channel these attributes from their superstars into new positions even if their base skill sets are becoming obsolete. 

“Developing new skills takes time,” said Rachel. “So, if these conversations happen too late, the staff member may already have their eye on another organisation – staying proactive means the development can start before this stage.”

So, make that effort to know your employees better and lean in to listen and understand their challenges and what is driving them to quit. With compassionate conversations, patience, and co-creation you can help move the wheels of employees’ career chariot out of the saturation pitfall. 

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Topics: Learning & Development, #TheSkillsConundrum

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