by Tom Gimbel
Job, noun \ˈjäb\ : the work that a person does regularly in order to earn money
Career, noun \kə-ˈrir\ : a field for or pursuit of consecutive progressive achievement especially in public, professional, or business life
There’s a difference between a job and a career, in definition and in reality. Yet many HR managers forget the distinction, particularly when employees have been at a company for a long time. Every employee has a job, so they must all have careers, right?
Employees don’t agree. 52% of workers believe they have jobs but don’t think they currently have careers, according to a CareerBuilder survey published this February.
This statistic should worry HR managers. Why?
Because it’s a candidate driven market today. The national quit rate reached a 6-year high in September at 2.0%, and as of November is holding steady at 1.9%, according to the most recent report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This statistic signals positive change for our economy, but it could spell trouble for companies hoping to retain their best talent.
In order to keep employees engaged and happy with their roles, it’s important they feel they have a career, not just a job. When employees can envision their career path at a company, they are more likely to stay, develop, and grow with the organization. There are several strategies HR professionals can put in place to show employees they have a career instead of telling them:
Set quarterly and yearly goals
Have managers work with their teams to set goals every quarter and every year, both at the team and the individual level. Setting goals forces employees to look into the future and ask themselves, where do I see myself in 3 months? 6 months? A year? If they can’t see themselves at the company, then the goals create a natural transition into bigger conversations about their role and satisfaction at the company.
If the employee can see themselves there, then the goals are a great way to roadmap their professional development. They have to think critically about their personal goals for their career, and what they have to do to achieve them.
Throughout the year, regularly revisiting and discussing these goals shows the employees what they have to do to get promoted, and it creates built-in markers for their success. If they hit all their goals, they have an opportunity to discuss promotions within the company.
Conduct “stay interviews”
Most companies conduct exit interviews when an employee leaves, and they ask what factors lead the employee to their decision. Take a more proactive approach: conduct regular stay interviews with existing employees. Ask them what they enjoy about working at the company, what they like most about their role, what problems they are having and if there is anything that would cause them to leave. These interviews show employees the company is invested in their happiness and their future, and it gives them an outlet to communicate frustrations
Promote based on merit…
and make sure the company knows why. Everyone should understand if they work hard and produce they will be recognized and rewarded. When employees are promoted, announce it in front of the whole company, and explain why they deserve it.
Offer professional training
Create opportunities for employees at every level to hone their professional skills. Help new hires learn job-specific skills to better perform in their roles. Encourage high-potential employees to take leadership and public speaking courses to prepare them for managerial positions. Providing training shows employees the company is invested in them and has plans for their futures.