What’s the #1 Reason Employees Look for Opportunities Elsewhere? Hint: It’s Not Money

 In Blog

By: Susan Ruhl

What’s The #1 Reason Employees Look for Opportunities Elsewhere? Hint: It’s Not Money

Research shows that many employees want and need learning opportunities and career development within their organization. When employees were asked to indicate the factors that would cause them to look for employment elsewhere, lack of career progress was #1 – ahead of pay (Deloitte). Similarly, 66% of employees say that they value learning opportunities over monetary compensation. Yet, 2/3 of managers are uncomfortable having career conversations with their employees.

It is our belief that while career management is becoming a more self-directed process, both the organization and the manager still have a critical role to play in providing the necessary tools and guidance, ensuring employees are being developed for personal gain as well as success of the organization itself.

Many large organizations have ample resources to create career paths and yet more than 50% of all employees (56.2 million) work for companies that have 500 employees or less (Statistics of U.S. Businesses Employment and Payroll Summary: 2012). According to various research, all employees want and need development, large company or not.

Call it what you want: career management, career pathing, or career development, it’s more than simply laying out a path that the employee might follow. Career management is much more than that. It also includes identifying the skills and knowledge that are necessary for an employee to make an internal transition and then providing the employee opportunities to acquire those skills.

The question is, where does the responsibility lie for educating the employee on their options and then outlining the necessary steps? The roles that come into play in the process are first, the organization then the manager and finally the employee. The organization first identifies the needed skills to carry out its business strategy. Human Resources or Learning and Development, for example, then creates the mechanism for developing those skills. Managers then have the conversations with their employees that “allow” them to feel comfortable in seeking opportunities for growth. Finally, the employee then can take a “self-directed” approach to their own development. That’s how it is supposed to work in theory, but in practice? Not so much.

Most companies do not have the internal resources to create this ideal scenario. We see the breakdowns occur in one of two ways that are not currently being addressed effectively. The first breakdown happens at the organizational level. In smaller companies, leaders simply do not have the skillset necessary nor the resources to identify, create and chart appropriate career paths in order to develop their talent and realize the company’s strategy. The second is seen at the manager level. Managers are often not comfortable with the idea of developing their employees, nor are they equipped with the skills to have productive development conversations.

Perhaps you have seen the often-used meme depicting a CFO who notes “What if we develop our employees and they leave” to which the CEO responds “What if we don’t and they stay?” We know, from our work with our clients, organizations and managers often struggle with this exact fear and it is apparent to the employee. The result? It has been reported that only 30% of employees feel comfortable having a career conversation with their direct supervisor.

How are these conversations playing out in your organization? Are your managers equipped?

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