Rajesh joined his current organization 18 months ago, and has now settled down in his role, created a good rapport with his Manager and has also made some new friends at work. However, he is already getting worried about his career. While his organisation claims to provide good career opportunities, Rajesh has been unable to get clarity on what his potential roles could be, or how he can transition to a new role. His Manager has advised him to focus on his current job for the next couple of years till his “turn” comes. Feeling frustrated, Rajesh starts exploring roles outside, lands up a good role at a competitor and moves to the new organisation. Does this sound familiar? As HR professionals, we have all been witness to such stories played out regularly in our organisations, and most of us have even been in the shoes of Rajesh in our own careers.
During the course of my interactions with HR professionals across organisations, career management is increasingly coming up as a major challenge area. With slowing growth and accelerating change in business environment, organisations and HR teams no longer have the luxury of offering very structured and almost guaranteed career progress to employees. On the other hand, millennials joining the workforce are bringing with them a different set of expectations regarding careers. Security, stability and brand are giving way to flexibility, choice, passion and autonomy as drivers of career choices. Attrition is not the only consequent challenge – carefully created succession planning and leadership pipelines processes, which have been designed and institutionalized by HR teams over years, are fast becoming redundant.
So, what is the solution? I, for one, still believe that building an emotional connect with employees and improving workplace culture will continue to be critical if an organization has to attract the “right” people. However, retaining these people will take more than just “emotional connect”. In order to improve retention and improve engagement, career management frameworks and even the learning frameworks have to be re-imagined and re-framed.
In my view, hyper-personalization is going to be the bed-rock of career management frameworks. Every employee has to be able to manage his own career on his own by making choices on the basis of his or her own interest, passion, competencies, and of course, available opportunities. Let us go back to Rajesh’s story. Rajesh feels that he is ready for a career move. His organisation, in this new scenario, encourages employees to plan their own career progression. To understand possible roles within the organization, Rajesh is able to explore multiple roles across functions on the intranet, and assuming that the “Learning & Development – Plant Operations” comes across as an interesting role to him. He accesses all plausible information about the role on the portal and based on a system-generated recommendation, he connects with a senior colleague who has been in that role in the past to mentor him to prepare for the role. He also completes a few on-the-job projects and online learning programmes suggested by his Mentor to learn new skills. After six months, a L&D job opens up on the internal job market and the system sends him an alert regarding the same. He applies, goes through the selection process and gets into the role. While this hypothetical case sounds plausible enough and many organisations provide all of the above resources to their employees, organisations still need to go a long way in order to organise these offerings in a way where employee experiences like the above case can be facilitated.
Re-imagining relevant HR processes, deeper integration between talent management systems and strong change management execution will all be crucial. However, for an organisation which is serious about talent retention, it can never be too early to start the journey.
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