Career development is often cited as a top reason for employee turnover. When organizations don’t provide employees with opportunities for growth, employees seek it out elsewhere.

Progressive organizations invest in employees’ professional growth through succession planning to engage and retain the talent they’ve worked so hard to recruit. When employees can envision a promising future at your organization, they are more likely to go above and beyond to excel in their roles. They’re also more likely to stay at your organization in order to achieve desired career goals.

Succession planning is arguably just as important for the future of your company as it is for employee engagement and retention. Today’s competitive talent landscape means you can’t always hire the people your business needs to succeed. The demand for skilled talent and seasoned leaders often exceeds the supply. Developing talent internally helps you build a strong internal candidate pool with the skill- and culture-fit you need for your most mission-critical positions.

Begin with career pathing early in the employee lifecycle

Succession planning often begins with career pathing, to align the employee’s interests and career goals with the organization’s future needs. The intersection of these two areas is critical for ensuring long-term success. If the organization never has a need for the type of role an employee is interested in, the employee will likely leave to find it elsewhere. Conversely, if employees don’t have any interest in moving into your critical roles, engagement and retention will suffer.

It’s so important to be in-tune with company leadership so you understand the types of roles the organization will need to fill in the future. This is a strong opportunity to be a strategic advisor, and provide guidance on whether the skills needed can be bought, or if they will need to be developed. Either way, career pathing and succession planning should be done to engage and retain existing employees. Understanding the state of the external candidate pool, however, can impact the resources you put into developing your internal candidate pool.

Meet with employees early in their lifecycle to learn about their career interests and goals, and discuss potential career paths within your organization. Ideally, this is part of your employee onboarding plan, so it allows for development to begin shortly thereafter.

Employee development

Enable your employees to fulfill their career paths by offering opportunities for development. This may include a budget for educational courses and certifications, conferences, tuition reimbursement, coaching services, or online learning subscriptions. Organizations may also offer formal mentoring, job shadowing, stretch assignments and special projects to expand their employees’ work experience.

These opportunities will help employees develop the skills and experience they need to move into your critical roles. Your employees will appreciate you investing in their futures, boosting engagement and retention levels as a result.

Employee development helps you develop a stronger workforce that can perform better in their current roles, maximizing your employee lifetime value. Some development opportunities, including stretch assignments, may even provide you with a glimpse of how each employee would perform in more skilled, or more senior roles.

Internal recruitment

With strong internal talent ready-to-go you should see your promotion rate increase and, along with it, your employee engagement and retention rates. A promotion is a great way to reward employees for great work, and it will encourage each promoted employee to continue working hard to produce strong business outcomes.

Align with your recruiting team to ensure internal candidates are always considered for open roles. While external candidates can bring a fresh perspective, internal candidates are already vetted for culture-fit and you have a strong understanding of their current skills and ability to learn new ones. A mix of internal and external candidates for each role can ensure a strong talent pool that may help improve your quality of hire and time to hire.

Internal promotions send the signal to your workforce that career progression within the organization is possible, encouraging others to stay on board. Just be sure to re-evaluate each promoted employee’s career path and development plan often so they can continue to visualize their career progression within your organization.

Final thoughts

Through career pathing, employee development, and internal recruiting, your organization can both engage and retain talent. Employees will appreciate an organization that invests in their future, and will be more likely to stay long-term and go above and beyond to meet business goals. Organizations will also benefit greatly from a highly trained and skilled workforce that can easily fill an internal candidate pool with high-quality talent.

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