Managers are occasionally evaluated by their team’s occupational wellness — the sometimes-hazy calculation that rates employees’ professional and personal contentment. What may not be as commonly tested is the connected concept of employee engagement, which measures how committed employees are to helping their company succeed. While 71% of executives cite employee engagement as essential to their success, a mere 15% of U.S. employees consider themselves engaged.
Unfortunately for employers, when we look through either the contentment or engagement lens, we see a workforce in crisis — upward of 70% of U.S. workers are so unhappy in their roles that they are thinking about and/or actively looking for a new job.
What’s behind all this? Developmental stagnation at work and the opportunity for a better role elsewhere, often defined not merely as one with more pay, but as one presenting a pathway toward personal and professional growth and upward mobility.
Rather than list out the litany of errors, let’s gauge your company’s employee development and engagement efforts.
The pandemic has only exacerbated the dissatisfaction of many employees — at varied levels — who feel stuck in unfulfilling jobs, with little guidance on how to advance or pivot in their careers and achieve the dignity of meaningful, impactful work.
This piece aims to deliver a simple action plan for assessing your employees’ engagement level and taking targeted steps to build the kind of committed and reliable workforce necessary to survive and thrive in today’s marketplace.
Common failures in corporate career development efforts
While researching employee retention when building our startup, we identified a number of common and recurring shortcomings in career-development practices — ones that are likely to be familiar to most Fortune 500 companies, as well as scaling, high-growth startups.
We focused on the activities and strategies companies use to align their skills needs with workers’ capabilities and aspirations — specifically, their approach to advancing staff toward jobs deemed both desirable to employees and essential to employers.
We found significant behavioral-design failure points across three main areas: Their strategic framework for employee engagement and advancement; implementation process and templates; and goal setting and rewards.
To understand the companies’ strategic framework, we examined upskilling and tuition reimbursement policies and spend; individualized employee future-fit assessments; tools for employee career pathway modeling and advancement; and early-in-career and diverse-hire career-progression programs.
For implementation processes and templates, we examined onboarding; employee performance and development cycle; manager feedback; and succession planning.
For goal setting and rewards, we examined manager and VP-level goals and rewards connected directly to their activities and performance in developing and advancing employee careers.
Take this employee development survey
Let’s gauge your company’s employee development and engagement efforts. How many of the following can you answer with a “yes”?
- Has your company run a process to define skills or talent-gaps across organizations in the past two years?
- As part of such a process, did your company define a role taxonomy for essential roles?
- Do you have a process and the tools for mapping existing personnel to that taxonomy, whether from within or outside the relevant organization?