Employers’ inability to provide clear and effective career management tracks may be forcing their more goal-oriented workers – the very employees they need to retain – to jump ship.

One cause of this failure, according to Renée Smith, talent and rewards director at Towers Watson, is that employers are not aligning all of their business priorities when it comes to career management efforts.

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Typically, Smith notes that “different parts of HR own different areas of career management, so there’s not always clear accountability or partnership.” The corporate compensation team might maintain job descriptions and job levels, for example, while the talent management department might manage skills and competencies. “It’s very disjointed,” she says.

“If information is not communicated, or is communicated in a disjointed manner, employees are not going to be able to understand what’s expected of them and see the value in it,” says Smith.

Both employers and employees agree that career management programs are in need of a reboot, new research from Towers Watson finds. Approximately four in 10 employees believe they need to join another company in order to advance their careers. Also, employers rank career management opportunities as the top reason employees join their company.

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In its Global Workforce Study, Towers Watson reports that 49% of the 32,000 employees surveyed say their organizations do not provide useful career planning tools. On the other hand, Towers Watson’s Talent Management and Rewards Survey finds that 49% of the more than 1,600 companies surveyed indicate they are effective at offering traditional career advancement programs.

According to Towers Watson research, the four key areas where employers are missing the mark include:

  • Nearly a half of employers (48%) say their organizations do not have formalized frameworks and career paths available.
  • Only 33% of employers say managers are doing a good job in having career development discussions with their performance reviews.
  • Roughly 45% of employers make effective use of technology to help push forward their career development programs.
  • Approximately 27% of employees say they monitor the effectiveness of their career management programs.

Meanwhile, on top of modifying these key areas, Smith explains that it “makes sense [for employers] to inventory the elements of a career management program that’s already in place.” Also, companies should articulate their career management philosophy – both for vertical and lateral career moves for their workforce, she advises.
“We often see with companies, they’ve done some of this good, foundational work, but nobody knows about it,” Smith says. “They’re not getting a return on that investment.”

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