Career progression: A chance for strategic HR to shine

One-in-three employees have become disheartened about their lack of career progression.

These people feel the reality of their professional development so far has not kept pace with their expectations, according to the latest CIPD/Halogen Employee Outlook survey. The net result is that many are thinking about moving jobs.

Employee engagement is at the heart of talent retention, and so companies - in conjunction with their HR departments - need to overhaul their policies to ensure their best staff do not move laterally to a rival, taking vital corporate knowledge and intellectual property with them in the process.

More than a quarter (28 per cent) of respondents said they are either dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with the level of training and development offered by their current employer, while the study found a clear link between employees being satisfied with the level of training and plans to secure a new job.

Career satisfaction
If employers are going to improve with respects to talent retention, they need to understand what the main drivers of career development are. Unsurprisingly, job satisfaction (76 per cent) emerges on top, followed by work-life balance (66 per cent) and liking co-workers (43 per cent).

These three factors appear to be much more decisive than wealth (27 per cent), progression (12 per cent) and status (four per cent) when it comes to satisfaction.

Jessica Cooper, research adviser at the CIPD, is calling on employers to think flexibly to make sure they have a concrete understanding of their employees' career expectations. Staff should also be provided with clarification on how their existing job fits into their wider career development.

"This involves thinking less rigidly about job roles and instead developing a better understanding of the skills of their workforce and deploying them in more effective ways that meet people's career expectations but also serve the business well," she stated.

Ms Cooper has made three suggestions for boosting career satisfaction:
- Making performance reviews developmental rather than merely a recap of the previous 12 months
- Giving staff the chance to make lateral moves to broaden their skills and experiences
- Reassuring staff that career development does not always have to involve progressing into more senior roles

Staff engagement
With the working world changing thanks to the impact of digitisation and the increasingly global focus of companies, employee engagement has to be the top human capital issue. Identifying future leaders and nurturing their abilities over time is vital if businesses want to continue to expand.

"Investing in career development is just good business sense," said Donna Ronayne, VP of marketing and business development at Halogen Software.

She added that retaining key employees and developing a pipeline of great talent will always aid, rather than hinder, success. This means tailored solutions need to be developed to maintain levels of interest and motivation.

As HR starts to play an increasingly strategic role in the development of organisations, its remit has to be on providing a visionary approach. And there can be no better place to start than with talent retention.