Of course, there are obvious reasons why this may be, including those employees who would typically retire at 65 remaining in the workplace much longer due to the recent recession and loss of planned retirement funds. Regardless, the reality remains the potential lack of career path for those who typically at this stage rapidly advance in their careers.
If you can’t offer a clear career path, what do you do to keep these young, highly motivated, talented employees on board and engaged with your organization? This article offers a few ideas, but I don’t think they go far enough.
Here are three more ideas to create career paths for young, talented individuals.
Here are four ways social technologies are having a positive impact in talent management:
1. Enabling open door policies
Dominion Enterprises, a marketing services firm based in Norfolk, VA, has always had an open door policy, inviting its 3,000+ employees to share feedback and ideas. But leadership struggled to sift through and act upon all the input they received. They realized they needed something more: a central platform for gathering, sharing and developing ideas.
“While we had channels for feedback and input, it was hard to get traction around ideas,” explains Susan Blake, VP of HR.
Dominion implemented UserVoice Feedback software, which allows employees to submit ideas, vote on others’ ideas, and discuss them. After giving UserVoice a test run in one department, they rolled it out company-wide in March. The software had immediate impact, giving management the tools they need to give their open door policy new life – with employees from every department offering suggestions for improving products, policies and processes.
Based on employee feedback, Dominion has implemented several product improvements and is reconsidering their PTO policy. By showing employees that their feedback results in real changes, they’ve seen a spike in employee engagement. “To say UserVoice was a catalyst is an understatement,” says Blake.
2. Connecting experts
Today’s enterprise social technology has turned traditional employee directories into a strategic tool for both employees and leadership. While you can still track down your coworkers’ contact info, interactive talent directories in innovative products like Saba’s People Cloud do much more.
Employees can create detailed profiles that list skills, competencies and interests relevant to both their current roles and their career goals. This enables colleagues to locate internal experts, as well as to find internal viable candidates for key hires. It also allows employees to garner attention from peers and leadership by regularly lending expertise hand or sharing articles of interest.
3. Improving performance visibility
While social talent management systems feature a lot of employee-facing functionality, vendors are also delivering on a major challenge for leadership: visibility into employee performance. Using the same signals that indicate an employee’s daily activity and contribution, leaders can monitor and evaluate a new, more dynamic set of performance metrics along with the old. This enables leadership to benchmark performance and engagement in real-time.
SilkRoad Technology’s Point is a great example of this. Point graphs employees’ influence, and lists their connections and expertise–and brings these into play in the review process. By continuously collecting performance data from all over the organization, conversations around performance are no longer limited to a 10-question review template.
The breadth of data that systems like Point collect provides a more rounded picture of each employee, which is particularly valuable during performance reviews.
4. Motivating career management
One of social talent technology’s greatest value-adds for employees is in career management functionality. Systems like UpMo – the first enterprise talent network – are offering users a unique approach to career pathing by putting employees in the driver’s seat.
With UpMo, employees grow their internal network and their skills profile simultaneously, making them more appealing candidates for opportunities in the organization. Like other social talent technologies, there’s even a bit of gamification built in, which encourages usage and makes the process more engaging. Employees can give each other shout-outs for a killer meeting (a +1 in Presenting), or thanks for explaining Cloud computing (a +1 in Cloud).
While the products described above offer significant value, social technologies as applied to talent management still have room to evolve, in two areas. First, some vendors need to stop thinking of social functionality as a standalone platform or an add-on to existing products.
“Unfortunately, existing HR talent management vendors see social as another set of features to be added on top of what exists,” says Rob Garcia, VP of Product at UpMo. “From a product architecture and strategy perspective, this is a recipe for disaster.”
Instead, vendors should re-think how to make social a core, foundational piece of functionality that can enhance every application and module in talent management software.
Seamless integration with other systems is also important. For example, simply having a single sign-on across systems could greatly boost user adoption.
“It’s a real problem if every product requires another log-in or user profile,” says Joe Fuller, CIO at Dominion. “We want single sign-on – it’s the biggest complaint.”
Think that a generous, transparent, strategically aligned rewards package will “compensate” for the fact that you have lousy managers in key positions that company leadership is simply unwilling to address?
Better think again.
A recent study by Zenger/Folkman featured in a HBR blog post, provides some compelling evidence on the impact of bad bosses on employee satisfaction, engagement and commitment. The study centers on the effectiveness of 2,865 leaders (as judged by bosses, subordinates, peers and other colleagues via a 360 degree assessment) in a large financial service company.
Good rewards can’t overcome a bad boss
As the chart below shows, the sales, engagement and commitment levels of employees working for the worst bosses (those at or below the 10th percentile) reached only the 4th percentile.
As the article states, this suggests that “96 percent of the company’s employees were more committed than these mumbling, grumbling, unhappy souls.”
The other end of the chart shows that the employees working for the leaders with the highest assessments are more satisfied/engaged/committed than 92 percent of their peers.
Although it may temporarily salve their pain — and the tough labor market may prevent them from jumping ship — not even a world-class rewards program will be able to override the impact of a bad boss on employee morale and productivity.
Many of us can vouch for this fact based on personal experience.
Are you letting lousy bosses undermine your reward investments?
The pressure’s on from Day One in a high performance environment. While some thrive under pressure, others will falter. Elissa Tucker, Human Capital Management Knowledge Specialist atAPQC, says the first thing leading organizations are doing to curtail this type of turnover is a focus on “hiring retainable employees.”
While there are some obvious indicators of a candidates’ ability to deliver consistently (e.g. three to five years’ tenure in a similar role), there are other signals that can provide insight in your sourcing and screening.”
Tucker suggests working with your managers and top performers to identify what backgrounds, skills or personality characteristics your retainable employees have in common.
2. Plan careers, don’t fill roles
It’s easy to focus on the near-term when managing people in a high performance environment. You bring in “A” players with the expectation that they’ll succeed in the role for which you’ve hired them — and unrealistically assume they will stay in that role forever. Your top performers are thinking about their career, and you should be too.
“Best-practice organizations work to help individuals plan to stay with the organization — to plan their careers with the organization,” says Tucker. The key is to guide your employees in mapping out how they can attain their career goals within your company.
For example: If a top salesperson sees her current role as a rung in the ladder up to senior management, outline some long-term goals that will get her there. If another is just in it for the money, keep him in challenging roles that will reward him for working hard and allow him to play hard.
3. Make retention personal
Every employee is motivated by different things, and retention strategies thus need to be tailored down to the individual level.
You may be surprised to find that monetary incentives are low on the list of responses you get. These days, “A” players are more concerned with challenging work, personal and professional growth opportunities, work/life balance, and workplace flexibility.
4. Get to the heart of underperformance
Let’s face it: Underperformance happens, but you don’t want to lose employees who were previously strong performers. If you notice a drop in performance, Miranda advises against writing them off without first getting to the heart of the issue.
In my conversation with Miranda, we broke underperformance down into a few root causes:
Skill and competency issues often come up when someone’s been promoted into a role they weren’t quite ready for. Fortunately these can be addressed with coaching and training–and usually for a fraction of the cost of replacing an employee.
Behavioral issues are usually more difficult. “If it’s a behavior issue,” Miranda says “identify the source of the issue to get an idea of whether it’s something worth investing the time and effort in.”
Personal issues are a leading cause of burnout among top performers. Things come up (divorce, health issues, mortgage issues, etc.), and can distract employees from their work and affect their ability to deliver. In these cases, a little support and flexibility will go a long way toward cultivating loyalty.
You may uncover trends in underperformance that you can use to your benefit. Are employees bored with the work? Are people burning out after six months? This kind of feedback is vital to the refined people process that supports success and curtails turnover.
5. Invest in your line managers
“Employees don’t quit jobs,” says Miranda. “They quit managers.” He estimates that 80 percent of turnover is driven by the environment a manager creates for an employee (compared to 20 percent resulting from issues with company culture). Because of this, any investments in training and development for your line managers are well-spent.
The success of your retention strategies are ultimately subject to your line managers’ ability to deliver on initiatives you put in place. According to Tucker, “Whatever your company values, you have to be sure your managers are executing on it. Help them help you reduce turnover. Teach them how to empower employees to succeed and grow, rather than just drive performance.”
It’s also critical to keep the line of communication about careers wide open between employees and managers, especially because career goals change over time. Build more opportunities for employee check-ins (formal and informal) with managers. As Tucker points out, “Individualized conversation needs to happen on a regular basis.”
Mental health days are not a figment of the imagination. Sometimes at the end of long project or in the midst of a crazy workload, employees just need a break. Those who claim a sickie when not actually ill may feel guilty at leaving the work on their colleagues to take time off. And if you want to reduce the number of these false claims, look into this research showing supportive supervisors are the number one factor.
A selfish and competitive spirit extends even to preferred vacation time. Though I’m often not in favor of hard policies, sometimes it’s necessary to deal with those 1 (one) percent claiming a honeymoon just to get their preferred vacation dates when they didn’t plan ahead as well as their colleagues. Then again, I always hated to hear about organizations requiring employees to bring back funeral programs to prove a loved one had died and they’d gone to funeral. What’s next? Requiring proof of cruise itinerary on the honeymoon?
It really is that bad at the office. Someone ate shampoo to be able to leave sick? Can anyone imagine what that work environment must have been like for the employee resorting to this? If you are one of those organizations with a hard and fast policy around vacation or holiday time, have a think about the unintended consequences your policy might be generating.
By Derek Irvine - Vice President, Client Strategy & Consulting Service at Globoforce