Human Capital Management Blog

Strategies for HCM Professionals

To drive engagement, focus on career development

By Deb LaMere, VP of Employee Engagement, Ceridian

Employee engagement is a cornerstone of successful organizations. Numerous studies have shown that companies with higher levels of engagement benefit from higher retention rates and productivity. However, according to Dale Carnegie, only 29 percent of the U.S. workforce is engaged and almost just as many are actively disengaged.

It is a lot easier to understand and, therefore, improve employee engagement when you break it down into specific components. Some of the top drivers of engagement include work-life balance, strong communication from management, performance feedback, and career development and training. In fact, a 2014 Towers Watson Global Workforce study found that the two biggest factors that influence engagement are base pay and career advancement.

Why career development is important
At our recent customer conference, INSIGHTS, this is the question I aimed to answer during a session I led on career development to drive engagement. Here’s the gist of it. No one, and I mean NO ONE, wants to stay in a job that makes them feel stuck. Perhaps more so than ever before, workers today desire meaningful work. They want to work for companies – and in positions – that make them feel valued. Plus, most want to make sure they are continually progressing and improving. And, to avoid high turnover rates, it is imperative you help ensure they get all of those things from your organization.

Helping employees create career development plans and making it a priority focus area demonstrates genuine appreciation for your people. By aiding them in defining and working toward their career goals, you can significantly enhance their productivity, performance, and engagement.

Implementing career development initiatives: Manager tips
The first step to creating a career advancement program within your organization is to figure out when the conversations will be conducted, followed by how.

  • Establish a timeline: Maybe you think it would be most effective to have one, in-depth meeting per year with an employee – long sessions that afford you the time to strategize and map-out their plan. On the other hand, perhaps it makes more sense to have frequent yet shorter discussions on an ongoing, year-round basis. There is no right or wrong way to approach it; the key is finding and sticking with the one that is beneficial to both you and the employee.
  • Prepare for the conversation: To ensure the career development meetings are as effective as possible, you need to be strategic in how you guide the discussion. Ask thought-provoking questions, share your own experiences, and let them know that you are there to support them.
  • Follow up – and through – on your promises: Don’t just tell your employee that you want to help them succeed; show them. Once you have the initial discussion and planning meeting, it is important for you to follow up with any contacts, tools, insight, or training opportunities that could help them progress.

Creating a career development plan helps you build a stronger connection and better professional relationship with your team members. It is also an effective way to monitor and track the performance in relation to the goals they set, identify any skills gaps, and determine which kind of training is needed. Remember, as a manager, one of the greatest testaments of your ability and success is having one of your team members advance in their career.

Deb LaMere


Deb LaMere is Vice President of Employee Engagement at Ceridian.

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