Talent Can't Be Mobile Without a Path

Guest Contributorby Claude Werder | Posted | Career Management

Talent Can't Be Mobile Without a Path

This is the third installment in a four-part talent mobility series by Claude Werder from Brandon Hall Group. Claude is the Senior Vice President and Principal HCM Analyst at BHG and leads the talent management research and advisory practice.

If you're interested in learning more about talent mobility, check out the first two articles in this series:

Why Employers Struggle with Talent Mobility

Retaining top talent is the most pressing talent management concern of business and HR leaders, according to Brandon Hall Group's 2020 HCM Outlook Survey.

On the other hand, only about one in five employees has a clear and well-communicated career path, says new Brandon Hall Group career development research.

Clearly, we have a problem. Why would today's workforce, which places a high priority on career opportunities, stay at a place where there is no defined path to growth?

Only about 1/5 employees has a clear and well-communicated career path according to @BrandonHallGrp
Tweet this

It's not that employers don't think career development is important. They do. They struggle because it's hard. The result is that three of five organizations can't meet their talent needs over the next one to two years with their current talent pipeline. Why? Take a look:

Let's focus on critical job roles and linking learning to career growth. They are the core problems; everything snowballs from there. From the survey results and conversations with dozens of organizations about career development, two factors are clear.

1. Most organizations struggle to reach consensus on critical job roles

It's important to do so because it's nearly impossible to create multi-dimensional career development programs for all job roles and levels, especially in large, dispersed and matrix organizations. But that is what most organizations try to do.

If you do nothing else in the short-term, secure your leaders' agreement on the most critical job roles and build from there. (The current COVID-19 crisis may be an opportune time to do this while business is paused and leaders plan the recovery process. Understanding the critical roles, and how to shore them up, is important.)

2. Career paths without linkage to specific learning opportunities is a path to nowhere

Because many organizations try to do too much too soon, they fail to link career paths to varied learning opportunities, competencies and certifications. Employees are often left without resources and direction to meet their goals. This causes frustration and frequently causes them to look elsewhere for future opportunities.

Employees should have multiple career path options, including:

  • The traditional management ladder
  • Lateral moves
  • Higher levels of expertise and responsibility within the same job role

Fully developed career options are especially important to Millennials and Gen Z employees, whose career vision is very different from prior generations'.

4 Tips to Build a Better Career Development Program

Career development is complex, which is why organizations struggle with it. If you are among the 50% of organizations without, or just developing, career development programs, here are four suggestions to get started.

1. Build a culture of continuous learning

In the emerging economy, learning must be continuous and integrated with the flow of work. It should be laser-focused on specific business outcomes linked to new skills and competencies and a higher quality of work. This reinforces the message that you are committed to developing and retaining employees and helping them grow.

2. Use onboarding to kick-off career development

Make sure new-hire onboarding provides dynamic resources around different careers that employees can leverage throughout their tenures.

Consider assessments to understand employees' personalities, work styles, strengths and interests. Provide "buddies" or mentors to help them adapt to the company and their jobs. Connect them with a variety of learning resources, including social channels to build their networks. Make sure they are introduced to key leaders.

Taken together (and followed up on regularly), this sends a strong message about your commitment to employee success and development.

3. Build Individual Development Plans (IDPs) for everyone

Less than one-third of organizations provide personalized development plans for the majority of their employees. The IDP should reflect ongoing collaboration between manager and employee. It should align the employee's aspirations with career development opportunities that also address the needs of the business. This is why frequent one-on-ones, coaching and flexible goal setting are so important.

The IDP should be a living, breathing document that evolves along with the interests and needs of the employee and the company. Each employee needs one.

4. Leverage technology

Career development has multiple moving parts that require input from diverse stakeholders. It's impossible to connect all the dots without technology. Amazingly, only 11% of respondents to our career development research work for employers that fully use HCM technology to support career development, either through a suite or point solution. Almost half (45%) use no technology at all. That needs to change if career development is going to improve.

More Resources for Talent Mobility

Next week we'll be posting the fourth and final article from the talent mobility series by Claude Werder at Brandon Hall Group. In the meantime, if you're hoping to learn more about talent mobility, check out some of these Saba-picked resources:

The Star You Seek May Already Be in Your Organization

Learn how to reach talent mobility success in 9 steps


Download Now
Cover of the book
Cover of the book

The Star You Seek May Already Be in Your Organization

Learn how to reach talent mobility success in 9 steps


Download Now


Related Articles


Close [x]

Get our Saba Blog Digest email delivered right to your inbox.

Join over 100,000 of your HR peers: