By Claudine Kapel
For many employees, opportunities for advancement are vitally important.
Getting promoted facilitates professional growth and development – while opening the door to potentially significant pay increases. So it’s not surprising a recent North American survey by Right Management found that what employees want most in their next job is greater opportunity for advancement. Given the modest levels of base pay increases that have prevailed in recent years, employees may now see promotions as the primary way to achieve a notable increase in earnings.
But despite the fact that many employees are hungry to progress, many organizations struggle with how best to deliver opportunities for advancement. Challenges in providing such opportunities arise for a number of potential reasons:
- Organizations have become leaner and flatter, resulting in fewer jobs, fewer levels and reduced opportunities for promotions;
- The size of the organization can create constraints with respect to career progression;
- Older workers are delaying their retirements in the face of challenging economic conditions, thereby stalling the progression of those below them;
- Job openings sometimes – or often – get filled with external hires, reducing the opportunities for internal mobility; and
- Organizations may lack the tools and processes required to effectively manage career development, including the ability to identify employees who are ready, willing and able to take on bigger roles.
Consider your own organization. To what extent are you able to deliver opportunities for advancement as part of the employee value proposition?
Considerations such as company size, the average age of the workforce, and the level of turnover will affect the number of promotional opportunities that become available. Meanwhile, the skills and abilities resident within the organization will influence the extent to which such opportunities are filled internally by existing employees.
Regardless of how abundant the opportunities for advancement may be in your organization, there may be steps you can take to enhance how career development is managed.
- Establish and maintain tools and processes for identifying high performers and high potentials to ensure top talent is appropriately groomed for future roles.
- Ensure employee development and career aspirations are addressed through the performance management process. Managers should have regular conversations with employees about their career goals to create more targeted development plans and more realistic expectations about promotional opportunities.
- Where possible, define career paths and help employees understand what kinds of competencies they need to develop to optimize their opportunities for advancement.
- Look for ways to use special assignments, team-based projects and cross-training opportunities as ways of supporting professional growth and development. Consider encouraging lateral moves as viable career opportunities.
- Develop recruiting and retention strategies to help ensure the organization can address its talent requirements – now and in the future.
Delivering career opportunities can be challenging – especially in smaller organizations or organizations with flatter structures. But a thoughtful approach to talent management that includes non-traditional opportunities for development and movement can provide employees with some enticing reasons to stay – and grow – with your organization.
Claudine Kapel is principal of Kapel and Associates Inc., a Toronto-based human resources and communications consulting firm specializing in the design and implementation of compensation and total rewards programs. For more information, visit www.kapelandassociates.com.