Are You Providing Your Employees Meaningful Advancement Opportunities?

Businesses seeing a revolving door of employees or a drop in productivity quickly notice the costs. Are you seeing these patterns in your own organization? If so, have you considered the underlying cause? It could be employees are feeling stunted in their careers. According to statistics, 72 percent of employees would leave a job if they found better advancement opportunities elsewhere.


Even if you do offer consistent raises and new job titles, consider—are you actually providing meaningful work to go along with these promotions?

Retention is a Problem for Many Employers

If you're worried about your employee turnover rates, you're not alone. Did you know a whopping 87 percent of employers said improving employee retention rates was a "critical priority" for them in 2017? One of the major reasons people leave their jobs is due to a lack of meaningful advancement opportunities.

Your best employees are going to want to have a chance to climb the proverbial corporate ladder, and being promoted to busywork rather than being offered challenging or meaningful responsibilities could mean they'll eventually move on. Aside from the costs associated with high employee turnover rates, your competition is going to nab the talent you worked so hard to recruit.

Recent research highlights the importance of offering career mobility. A study, sponsored by Cisco and conducted by Future Workplace, found offering career mobility increased employee engagement (49 percent), bettered productivity levels (39 percent) and improved teamwork (39 percent).

Get Input from Talent

So, the big question is, how do you know what to change? You can start by making an effort to find out exactly what it is your employees want in terms of advancement.

  • Engage with your staff; ask them what their career goals are
  • Pay close attention to answers in your exit interviews; read between the lines if you have to
  • Conduct stay interviews to determine why the people who stay choose to do so

Compile the information you've received from staff and exiting staff. See if you can identify any patterns why people are leaving. If your findings point to employees feeling a lack of meaningful contributions, you can start to take action.

Fun fact: Did you know in a Comparably survey, 60 percent of executives said they believed their organization offered meaningful advancement opportunities while just 28 percent of personnel in admin jobs felt they did?

Make Changes to Increase Retention Rates

Now that you have a jumping-off point, take a look to see what you can change to increase employee satisfaction (and increase the probability they'll reinvest themselves in your organization).

Many people seek the chance to work within their subject matter expertise, not being relegated to mundane chores day after day. Yes, these routine, often mind-numbing, tasks need to get done but throw some challenging or meaningful work in the mix too. For instance, let employees contribute to strategic planning or work with higher-profile clients. You can also provide employees include learning opportunities. For instance:

  • Offer cross-training to spice up daily routines (or lead towards an upward path)
  • Encourage continuing education; consider offering a percentage of tuition reimbursement
  • Sponsor certifications to allow employees a chance to grow
  • Provide in-house training on new technologies or other concepts

While learning opportunities may or may not directly change their jobs, staff can use their new skills to approach tasks from a new perspective or build upon them to transition into other roles in your organization. Career progression matters to employees, as does feeling valued. By offering your people ways to improve their skills, you demonstrate they matter to you. Finding ways to motivate people can go a long way—you don't want to unintentionally escort people to the door.

Bottom line, workplaces that embrace ways people can advance are viewed by talent as desired places to work. This means offering meaningful work, challenging tasks and respect. Keep in mind, while salary matters, advancement is not just about the money. It's about giving people the chance to contribute, make a difference and have the opportunity to grow in their careers.

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