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One in three careers fall short of expectations

  • 29 Oct 2014
 
One in three employees (33%) report that their career progression to date has failed to meet their expectations, according to the latest CIPD/Halogen Employee Outlook survey. The survey of over 2,500 employees published by the CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development, in partnership with Halogen Software, also found that more than a quarter (28%) of employees are either dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with the level of career training and development offered by their current employer. 
Despite these findings, the survey reveals that levels of job satisfaction* have increased over the last 12 months, rising by four percentage points to +44. However, the survey suggests that although employees might be satisfied in their current job role, there is a clear link between satisfaction with the level of career training and development and job-seeking intentions.  Only 12% of those satisfied with the level of career training and development are looking for a new job with another organisation, compared to almost a quarter (23%) of employees overall. 
The CIPD recommends that employers who are concerned about retaining their talent should make sure they understand and manage their employees’ career expectations. This means ensuring that both employers and employees are clear about how an existing job fits into wider career development. The survey explores a number of factors surrounding levels of career satisfaction amongst employees, and reveals that:
More than a third (37%) of employees think it is unlikely or very unlikely that they will be able to fulfill their career aspirations in their current organisation, compared to one in three (30%) who think it is likely or very likely that they will.
Only 6% of employees who believe they are likely or very likely to meet their career aspirations in their current organisation are looking for a new job, compared with almost half of those (48%) who think it is unlikely or very unlikely that their career ambition would be fulfilled by their current employer.
Just under half (48%) of employees report that their career progression to date has met or exceeded their expectations. When asked about the factors that contributed to their career meeting their expectations, the most commonly cited factor was their own hard work and talent (76%). 
The most commonly cited contributing factors by employees who have failed to meet their career expectations are poor quality careers advice and guidance in school (30%) and being unable to show strengths and potential due to being in the wrong job or career (31%). 
Jessica Cooper, Research Adviser at the CIPD, comments: “For the first time this survey asked questions on employees’ careers, revealing that a third feel their career progression has failed to meet their expectations. The survey also shows that likelihood of career progression and availability of career training and development opportunities have a big impact on employees’ job seeking intentions. Although job satisfaction levels are on the up, the data indicates that employers can be doing more to understand employee’s career expectations and help employees understand how they can realise these aspirations. 
“Employers should be encouraged to think flexibly, ensuring they understand employee’s career expectations and how best these can be fulfilled by their organisation, whilst recognising and supporting where this might not be possible. This involves thinking less rigidly about job roles and instead developing a better understanding of the skills of their workforce and deploying them in more effective ways that meet people's career expectations but also serve the business well. One way to do this is to make sure performance reviews are developmental rather than focused on looking back over the previous year. Employers can also ensure that, where possible, staff are given the opportunity to make lateral moves to broaden their skills and experience, and ensure that employees recognise that career development does not always have to involve progressing into more senior roles.”
Donna Ronayne, VP of Marketing and Business Development at Halogen Software, said: “Investing in career development is just good business sense. We see firsthand how it helps organisations retain key employees and provide a pipeline of great talent for corporate growth. To do this well organisations should give managers the tools and training they need to ensure feedback and performance conversations are future-oriented and focused on developing and evolving the skills of employees. It also means ensuring managers engage employees in regular discussions — at minimum once per year — about career development and progression. 
“Of course career development plans should support the strategic goals of the organisation, but it’s worth noting that employee career progression is about helping employees develop the knowledge, skills and experience they’ll need for their next job. This advice may sound odd but the reason this investment matters is because hopefully, their next job will be with your organisation. By recruiting and filling roles from within, organisations can increase employee retention, and maintain valuable corporate knowledge, intellectual property and memory.”
The CIPD/Halogen Employee Outlook survey also tracks overall employee engagement via the Employee Outlook Engagement Index, which comprises a set of measures which are important to understanding the level of engagement an employee feels towards their organisation. The index consists of 16 items, weighted and aggregated to give an overall score and is tracked regularly. The proportion of engaged employees has grown to reach 38% from 35% in spring 2014, now matching the levels of engagement a year ago.
The survey also tracks employees’ attitudes towards their line managers and senior managers, as well as the extent to which employees feel under pressure at work. The CIPD and Halogen Software will be running a free session on the survey findings at 2.45pm on Wednesday 5 November at the CIPD Annual Conference and Exhibition in Manchester Central. Delegates can register for a free place at the Exhibition via the conference website: cipd.co.uk/events/annual

* Net satisfaction scores refer to the proportion of people agreeing with a statement versus those disagreeing. Scores can range from -100 to +100.

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