Engaging, and retaining, early career talent in today’s job market is a daunting and expensive endeavor for both HR and leadership, thanks to the talent shortage, record low unemployment, and younger workers’ high expectations. Despite this, Fulcrum Network has found that there are organizations who manage their top talent successfully.
Here at Fulcrum Network, we set out to learn how these companies engage and motivate their early career talent. Research shows that if you develop your top talent, they’ll reward your company with increased productivity, greater value and loyalty, while making significant contributions to the organization.
Many early careerists want to reach the pinnacle of their career sooner rather than later. However, helping early career talent determine where they want to go on this journey is not always easy or straightforward for their managers.
Reaching the peak of your career is similar to reaching the peak of a mountain. Before embarking on the trip, you might seek out the advice of a travel agent. The travel agent has visited many destinations and will ask a lot of questions to understand where you want to go and what you want to do when you get there.
They might ask if you like rocky mountains, climbing in snow or a certain altitude, and would recommend destinations that fit your specific goals.
Similar to a travel agent, a career coach can ask about your preferences and where you want to go in your career. They may offer some assessments and exercises to identify your next “career destination” and help you create a road map to get there. Once at your destination, your next job, you meet your “tour guide,” your manager.
Your manager, as the “tour guide,” knows a great deal about the specific locale you are visiting and can make recommendations to help you get the most out of your visit. Your manager can suggest “excursions”-- projects and assignments, to help you broaden your experience. They can also help you connect with other “tour guides,” or mentors, within the company, and serve as an advocate for you as you visit various destinations on your career journey.
After several years of progress on your journey, you may be getting closer to the summit of your career, which requires new skills, such as traversing and repelling the mountain, and additional equipment and resources, necessary for higher altitudes. At this point, you might require the advice of a “specialized travel agent,” or executive coach. Working with an executive coach can help you reach the summit quicker.
The analogy of climbing the mountain is offered to provide some perspective about the process of career development. It takes time, specialized expertise, and support through conversations with a variety of people, both paid and unpaid, along the way. It’s important to recognize that most successful people have had some kind of external support at various stops on their career journey. Many early careerists may not recognize this process and get impatient, abandoning the trek before they’ve learned what they need in order to move forward to their next destination.
Employees leave companies for many reasons - increased pay elsewhere, shorter commutes, better working hours, etc. However, high performers tend to leave for five main reasons.
Five Reasons High Performers Quit
Therefore, rectifying the above issues can help you keep your high performing talent. It’s critical that your top talent own their career development and seek out input, advice and feedback from the people they meet and work with along their journey. Engaging in career conversations is key to success and making continual progress. Managers often feel more comfortable and can be more effective acting as the “tour guide” for their specific locale, their department, vs. trying to be a long-term career coach.
We recently interviewed five talent leaders to learn the keys to their success in developing top early career talent for engagement and retention. Early career talent, for our purposes, are those employees in the first ten years of their career who often have high expectations of employers, which many companies are not prepared to meet. Through our interviews, we gleaned some useful tips and practices that have been effective for both new and well-established organizations in the for-profit and not-for-profit sectors.
Five Investments that Work
Overall, it seems that the manager and employee relationship is still a key factor for engagement and retention, as today’s employees need and want frequent feedback with chances to expand their skills and experience. Younger workers, particularly top talent, are motivated if there are avenues to advance their skill set. Because promotion with a pay increase is not always possible, smart managers find creative ways to develop their most valued talent in their current position by offering stretch assignments, special projects and the opportunity to learn new skills through learning and development programs.
We’ve found that engagement and retention happen when:
If your organization plans to invest in developing high potentials, below are some elements to include to ensure success:
Want to know more? Watch for Part 2, where we detail how five companies currently use these strategies.
Diane KubalCall: 630-548-4000Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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