Another cool thing about the improving job market? The focus on employee engagement and retention. I happen to think I know a thing or two about how to engage and retain the best employees.
Because they’re the ones who seek out a career coach to help them with their careers.
(Pause for a moment and think about it…)
I’m not a recruiting expert, nor an employee development guru, but what I’ve learned through my clients’ experiences gives me some unique insight into this topic. Like your coworkers are not your family. A bad boss can turn the best opportunity into the worst. There’s nothing more soul draining than feeling under-utilized.
So much about employee engagement and retention is just common sense — I’m amazed that more companies aren’t doing a better job with it. As the job market improves, you can count on seeing more and more attention given to this topic (gives me hope that things will improve) – including a new book by Reid Hoffman (the founder of LinkedIn), The Alliance: How to Recruit, Manage and Retain Talent.
Here are the three things that come to mind:
#1: Employees Are Confused
Employees are confused – they want to be loyal but they don’t want to feel stupid and naïve. They know they need to manage their careers, yet they also want to feel “a part of something.”
Smart professionals want to grow and expand constantly, and if they can’t do this with their current employer, they feel guilty about having to look elsewhere –or “scanning the environment for better opportunities.”
#2: Many Employees Don’t Want To Be Free Agents
Many employees don’t want to be free agents – they’ll never be comfortable approaching their careers this way. But they also don’t expect lifetime employment. So finding a happy mix between free agent/lifer is getting harder to navigate.
Organizational structures are just beginning to change and hopefully the “tour of duty” framework will help support what is already happening in the workplace – more contract opportunities and project-based work. Now if we can just convince certain hiring managers that a series of jobs lasting 2-3 years each isn’t the sign of a job-hopper, it’s the sign of someone who’s continuing to develop and adapt.
#3: The Employer/Employee Relationship Gets Awkward When Experience and Skill Sets Get Out of Sync
The employer/employee relationship gets awkward when business needs change and/or the skill set/experience needed to do a particular job shifts. No one likes awkward, so we default to avoidance. Employees long to be able to say “Hey, I’m growing stale here” without losing their jobs. Employers avoid saying “Hey, you’re growing stale in this role” when there’s not an underlying performance problem.
One of the main reasons I see this happening is because it’s the human experience to take these conversations personally. If no one talks about your performance, you assume everything is OK – so as soon as someone wants to talk about it, we assume there’s a problem with us. Not with the role shifting, or the business needs changing, but with us. And then things just get weird and awkward.
I long for the day when self-awareness and pro-activity collide and more and more employers will help create or find new opportunities for exiting employees. Beyond the traditional outplacement model of resumes and cover letters. I’m a dreamer…