Do You Need to Build a Career Advancement Pipeline?

When I started my first full-time job at age 20, I was so excited to be earning a good paycheck. I didn’t realize just what a great opportunity working for that company would turn out to be. In the seven years I worked there, I was given ongoing training and regular reviews, promoted three times, and then allowed to work part-time when our first child was born. The company showed me time and time again that they valued my efforts and loyalty. When I finally left to care for our second child, they wished me well. During those seven years, I grew personally, acquired new skills, and improved my marketability thanks to the opportunities for advancement they provided.

Are your employees as fortunate? How would they rate your company on its level of care for and investment in its workers? As the war for talent grows fiercer, these questions matter more and more. According to The Washington Post, LinkedIn’s new study reveals that in the last month, 39% of workers surveyed were contacted by a recruiter, thanks to increased access to passive candidates through social media. Also, 45% edited or updated their resume, 49% engaged in networking, and 44% researched ways to update skills to improve their career path. Most significantly, 25% applied for a job with a different company, while only 8% applied for another job within their own company.

The difference suggests that a greater share of employees would rather jump ship from their current employer than stay put and wait for the right opportunity. A variety of factors could account for the distinction: Millennials have come of age being told that the days of the loyal company man or woman are over. In turn, they have expected and perhaps even welcomed the idea their careers would bounce them from company to company. But that gap could also suggest that some companies are not building a clear pipeline for career advancement, or are not clearly communicating those options with employees.

A big part of career advancement that many employers overlook is succession planning–equipping workers with the knowledge and skills to move into other roles within the company in the event that another employee leaves. No matter how loyal you feel your employees are, it’s important to be actively preparing them to take over other positions if the need arises.

It may not be realistic to expect your employees to stay with you for their entire career. Change happens–people move, finances flux, children are born, medical needs arise, and so much more. Plus, your company simply may not be able to offer that many positions and may not experience people vacating the few you have. But it is realistic to lay the groundwork for retaining your employees by doing just what my first full-time employer did: give workers regular feedback on their performance, provide ongoing training to help them grow, treat them as individuals with unique needs, and offer them new arenas in which to prove their abilities. If you’re not building a pipeline for career advancement and implementing succession planning, start today. Your investment will help create engaged employees, protecting your company as the competition for knowledge workers grows stronger.

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By Marcianne Kuethen

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