Business leaders are facing a worrying workforce trend

Three ways businesses can implement a more effective workforce career management strategy to improve talent retention, acquisition and mobility.

Employee reflecting on their career

The employer-employee relationship is becoming increasingly unbalanced, with businesses recognising workers as consumers. Employees are taking the time to reflect on what they want from their jobs and the standards they expect from their employer. And any long-term or growing dissatisfaction with work is being met with the same response – an exodus of talent from businesses across all sectors.

The latest Right Management research found that 48% of workers have changed their career plans in the last two years, and yet many businesses still aren’t taking the necessary steps to ensure they retain key talent needed to combat the looming the skills crisis. This isn’t to say that employers aren’t aware of the risks they’re currently facing; as a recent survey found that three quarters of the largest companies listed on the London Stock Exchange – with a collective global workforce of 4.5 million – cited labour shortages and staff retention as principal risks to their business, backed up by the latest ManpowerGroup Employment Outlook Survey.

And yet 6 in 10 employees facing redundancy are planning career changes, suggesting that many businesses aren’t making the most of their employees’ willingness to embrace change and take their career in a different direction. In turn, many businesses are allowing talented individuals to pursue alternative careers outside of their organisation as opposed to redeploying them internally.


So where are organisations are going wrong when it comes to managing their workforce?

Failure to offer career coaching

Across Europe, 1 in 5 workers say they plan to leave their current organisation within the year. And it’s often a lack of career development opportunities that drives these feelings of job dissatisfaction. Right Management’s research shows that, of the employees planning to leave their organisation within 6 months, less than half receive coaching support from their employer.

Business leaders need to shift their attention towards upskilling and reskilling existing employees: allowing them to learn and develop new capabilities that align with changing organisational needs. This is highlighted by the fact that 74% of those who plan to stay with their firms for longer than two years are career coached. So, by providing regular and ongoing career support in the form of coaching, business leaders are likely to see increased job satisfaction and talent retention within their workforce.

Lack of line manager responsibility

Line managers have the potential to act as powerful enablers for the creation of a workplace culture where career mobility and upskilling lie at the heart of each employee’s journey. Employees need to be able to move freely throughout the business, should their career goals take them in an alternative direction. But as it stands, business leaders are often overestimating their line managers’ abilities to develop and support talent. Just 27% of employees say their line manager is helpful in developing their career, and many are having career conversations as infrequently as once a year.

To combat this issue, senior leaders need to ensure they’re providing line managers with the opportunity to train and learn the vital coaching techniques required to hold effective career conversations. Through doing so, they’ll be better equipped to develop their teams so that each individual reaches their full potential, while empowering trust and driving growth within the workforce.

Limited access to information on potential career paths

That being said, responsibility for ongoing learning and development cannot fall entirely onto line managers’ shoulders. Employees need to take an autonomous approach to managing their careers while looking to their organisation for support in pursuing their ambitions. However, a common blocker of self-driven career management is that many employees are simply unaware of the opportunities available to them – just 29% of HR leaders say that their employees have the tools available to explore internal redeployment opportunities.

Businesses should be promoting internal opportunities with clarity and transparency, allowing each individual to assess themselves against the criteria and determine whether they would be a good fit. And with a pre-established culture where employees have ongoing career conversations with their line managers, they’re more likely to feel comfortable pursuing internal opportunities that match their skillsets, or undertaking stretch assignments to develop new skills that align with their goals – improving internal mobility throughout the organisation.


Failing to develop an internal mobility strategy that utilises career coaching, development, and access to internal redeployment opportunities will mean organisations risk unwittingly allowing the very skills they’re looking for to leave the business.

To find out more about the steps your organisation can take to navigate the post-Covid skills crisis, download our latest whitepaper here.


Author: Sarah Hernon, Principal Consultant  Right Management UK