Employees prefer diverse working experiences to traditional career ladder

Climbing the career ladderEmployees value a varied working experience and flexibility over traditional, linear career progression, a global study published by the Top Employers Institute claims. The Career & Succession Management Report identifies the global developments forcing employers to rethink career and succession management strategies. These include skill shortages resulting in a global competition for best talent and an increased risk of losing business-critical knowledge due to the ageing of the workforce. There is also a new generation of workers seeking diverse work assignments and flexibility, who are taking greater responsibility for their own career management, resulting in less loyalty to employers and less interest in the traditional step-by-step climbing of career ladders. The findings suggest that HR needs to move from assuring the smooth succession of leadership to concentrate more on wider long-term staff engagement and retention.

“A key finding of our study is that for HR managers it is no longer possible to try and hold on to top performers, applying the traditional set of incentives. What is needed is a broader approach to employee development with greater awareness for the changed needs and values of the younger workforce. HR managers have to move away from being talent hoarders to playing their part as talent producers”, said David Plink, CEO of the Top Employers Institute.

This is confirmed by Antoinette Irvine, HR Vice President at Unilever: “Clarity and transparency around career plans to all employees become increasingly important when you are dealing with talent that is very marketable.”

“If you want people to stay long term, and not to go anywhere else, then they need to know why they are staying, and that is very much a performance discussion, but more importantly a career discussion.”

To successfully cope with these retention challenges, strategic workforce planning has to be closely linked to Career & Succession Management in order to identify capabilities and capacities needed in the future, and to prepare for future gaps.

The study finds that organisations that are successful in Career & Succession Management increasingly use integrated technology (Talent Suites). The most common Career & Succession Management practice supported by technology is an online personal development plan (85 percent of top performing companies have this in place), followed by competency models (79%), and employee profiles (75%).

The least technology-supported practices are defined career paths (58%) and succession plans (57%) which indicates more of a focus on short term Career & Succession Management rather than pursuing a long-term strategy.

The Career & Succession Management Report is published by the Top Employers Institute and based on a global HR Best Practices Survey among 600 companies in 96 countries.