Missed opportunity: two-fifths of employees never discuss career plans

HRM 21 Nov 2012
Think your workers are content just chugging along in their current position until the next internal opportunity comes along? Think again. A new study has found employers are failing to create a culture where workers feel comfortable talking to their managers about their career plans.
A survey has found nearly two fifths of UK employees have never discussed their career plans with their line manager, leading to a lack of engagement.

The poll of 2,027 workers, conducted on behalf of career management firm Fairplace, found that 39% of respondents are “sleep walking” through their careers with no plans in place.

Only 13% of staff who had talked to their manager about their future with the organisation found it helpful, according to the research carried out by YouGov.

A quarter of employees said they wouldn’t want to talk to their manager about their longer-term development, while this level of unwillingness to discuss career plans rises to 41% among Gen Y respondents.

These findings suggest that employers are failing to create a culture where staff can have an open and honest chat about their ambitions. The result is that workers feel directionless, with the wider workforce ‘going through the motions’ rather than feeling real engagement with the business, researchers warned.

The survey also revealed that even employees with career plans were thinking relatively short term, looking less than three years into the future. Only one in 10 workers feel they have opportunities for long-term development with their current employer, while just 16% feel their current job fits very well with their long-term career plan.

The findings paint a picture of a workforce taking a passive attitude to their careers, Fairplace chief executive Penny de Valk commented. “People are staying in their current jobs not because they are genuinely satisfied, but because they have not set themselves targets for progression or because they are unsure of where their skills and qualifications could take them.”

This was likely to be damaging to an individual’s happiness, but de Valk warned there were business ramifications as well, as these directionless employees were likely to be hampering business productivity and organisations’ bottom lines.

She suggested workers needed to take control of planning their careers, a task managers could help with by meeting regularly with staff to find out their aspirations, and to help them see how their current role could lead to other opportunities within the company.

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