Lack of Career Development Drives Employee Attrition

HR leaders must pay close attention to employee dissatisfaction with career development to prevent drops in workplace effort and employee attrition.

Global Talent Monitor’s report on workforce activity in 2Q18 shows that the lack of future career development remains a key driver of employee attrition — cited by 40% of departing employees as a dissatisfying factor in their job. At the same time, 28% of employees are actively seeking a job and 42% are passively open to new opportunities.

“Attrition has always been costly for companies, but in many industries the cost of losing employees is rising, due to tight labor markets and the increasingly collaborative nature of jobs,” says Brian Kropp, Gartner HR practice group vice president. “If employees don’t see you investing in their future with you, they’re going to look somewhere else.”

Gartner research shows that since the financial crisis of 2008, many organizations have removed several layers of middle management, so there are fewer opportunities for internal promotion.

Today’s average employee is in the same role 50% longer than before 2008

“Today’s average employee is in the same role 50% longer than before 2008,” adds Kropp. “To make up for this, organizations have increased the numbers of lateral movements across their organization, but the majority of employees that make these moves end up feeling they are worse off because of them.”

Although career development is top of mind for employees, compensation remains an important factor for leaving a job. Last quarter, nearly 37% of the global labor force reported leaving their previous employers due to their compensation.

With the average increase in compensation for those who quit their jobs for new ones at 15%, more employees today feel that this is the only option to significantly increase their income.

Read more: Are Your Employees Quitting in Their Seats

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Fewer promotions, more experiences

To attract and retain top talent when raises are not feasible, HR leaders must show employees that the organization is committed to their professional development. Managers can make employees feel valued by doing three things:

  1. Describe experiences, not positions. The best companies spend more time sharing the different types of experiences that employees can have across the company rather than just the positions that are open in the moment. When companies increase the variety of experiences that workers feel they can have, their perception of opportunity within the company also increases.
  2. Talk with employees before they are ready to move. Most employees make career decisions around personal milestones, birthdays, and family or friend reunions where they are forced to compare themselves to other people. Rather than planning to discuss their career around the HR calendar, the most progressive managers engage in proactive conversations with their employees about what they want to do next rather than waiting for their employees to ask them.
  3. Motivate with employability, not title increase. There’s no mistaking the fact that employees want promotions that demonstrate progression and come with a pay increase. Because offering promotions to retain talent is not feasible for all organizations, instead, the best companies recognize that their employees inevitably compare their development at their current organization with what they could find elsewhere. Instead of pretending this is not the case, leading companies show their employees how what they are learning now will prepare them for the next job — even if it’s not at their current company.

This article is based on insights that are part of an in-depth collection of research, tools, templates and advice available to Gartner clients.

 

Gartner for HR clients can read more in Global Talent Monitor 2Q18.

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