Today's careers are failing both employees and employers. Employers are not getting the capabilities they need to drive growth and employees are not satisfied with their careers. CIPD and CEB worked together on a series of podcasts to reveal insights from both organisations around this topic. Three of the podcasts are now available.

Episode 1

Date: 23/05/16 Duration: 00:20:39

Listen to the first episode of this five-part podcast series to learn:

  • how career satisfaction is affecting employee productivity
  • why this should be a priority for HR and your board
  • how to future-proof your career pathing strategy.

Voiceover: Welcome to the first in a series of five podcasts from CIPD and CEB on the importance of growth-based careers. The series will focus on CEB’s research on the future of career pathing called The New Path Forward – Creating Compelling Careers for Employees and Organisations.

In this first episode we’ll be talking about why we urgently need to rethink our approach to career management. And in the subsequent episodes, we’ll talk about the four specific shifts we need to make in how we approach careers, from designing experience-based careers and motivating employees, to communicating with the internal labour-market and how to get managers to stop hoarding talent. We’ll delve into some interesting case studies from National Grid, LinkedIn and HCL and discuss the steps organisations can take to improve their career management strategies.

First up, here’s Claire McCartney, Advisor for Resourcing and Talent Planning at CIPD and lead author on the Employee Outlook series, talking about how organisations are changing and what that means for career management.

Claire McCartney: Now the world of work is changing rapidly and often our organisational approaches to career management have not kept a pace with that change. Increasingly organisations are flatter in structure and many have adopted matrix ways of working. Many middle management layers have also been taken out of organisations during the recession, making historical career paths blurred and much less obvious.

We’re also seeing the emergence of the concept of career FOMO, something that was written about in the Times recently, and for those of you that haven’t come across the term, it’s the fear of missing out when it comes to our careers and career progression. This is something that is increasingly being talked about and particularly by the younger generation, who are often frustrated by the lack of career progression opportunities they have experienced to date. This is further heightened when they compare themselves to their parents’ generation and where they were at at their age in relation to things like career progression, income and house ownership. Career FOMO is also being fuelled by social media, which often projects an image of everyone else having more successful careers and glamorous lifestyles, but this often isn’t the truth in reality.

So we therefore need to challenge our outdated notions of traditional and hierarchical career progression, both CIPD and CEB research indicates that today’s careers are just not working. The CIPD’s latest employee outlook research shows that around a third of employees feel it is unlikely that they will be able to fulfil their career aspirations in their current organisation and this rises to over half of 18-24 year olds.

Currently almost a quarter of employees are looking for a new job and this represents the highest number that it’s been in over two years. And if organisations don’t want to see their talented employees walk out the door they need to focus more proactively on collaborative job design and providing growth opportunities.

When asked about productivity in the workplace, a hot topic in the UK currently because we are lagging behind our European competitors, employees themselves maintain that they would be more productive if there were more scope to use their own initiative in their roles, if they were given interesting work and if they were given work that compliments their skills. And with a third of employees currently saying they are over qualified for their roles and more likely to feel disengaged at work, this is a real issue.

We are also seeing an increase in proportion of those that are currently looking for a new job indicating they would like to do a different type of work all together, now this may be a reflection of their increasing frustration with their current career paths or just a greater desire for a diversity of experiences. Either way it’s important that organisations are aware of employees future plans and that line managers are having regular career conversations with them, because they may be able to facilitate moves internally to different departments to satisfy the need for such experiences.

The CIPD’s recent employee outlook focus on skills and careers delves further into employee’s disappointment with their career progression, it finds that poor careers advice is stopping employees from getting into the right jobs in the first place, and bad line management preventing them from getting on once at work, as well as other things such as lack of effective training and negative office politics.

The research also finds that a high proportion of people from poor backgrounds are held back when it comes to careers because they cannot afford to invest in their own personal development by studying for a qualification or indeed developing new skills. So the research highlights the importance of line management development and lifelong learning opportunities of people of all ages.

All of these factors point to the need to redefine our approaches to careers. In the light of this new context we need to work in partnership with employees on their careers and aligning organisational and individual needs. We need to think about career growth in the round rather than traditional hierarchical progression, and giving employees opportunities for a breadth of diverse experiences that help to maximise their employability going forward. Ultimately we need to apply the principles of growth based careers but in a way that works in our own context and settings.

Now I am very excited that we have this opportunity to hear some of the latest research findings into growth-based careers and innovative organisational approaches which can help shape our thinking and potentially some of our approaches to career management going forward.

Voiceover: Here’s Nicola Josephs, Senior Executive Advisor at CEB discussing their research findings and looking at how today’s careers are falling short of employee and employer expectations, and what steps organisations can take to rethink their approach to career management.

Nicola Josephs: At CEB what we’ve found in our research over the past decade is that the shape of careers has been evolving rapidly and radically and our approach to career management has not kept pace. And at the same time the complexity and diversity of careers has been increasing we’ve been devolving more responsibility for careers and career ownership to our employees directly. And perhaps, not surprisingly employees aren’t happy with the results and neither are we as organisations. There seems to be a growing misalignment between what employees want and what the organisation needs and can deliver on.

So what we wanted to understand with this research initiative is how to get our approach to careers back on track, how to get organisations and employees better aligned and how to build a career culture that grows employee career satisfaction and organisational capabilities. And here’s the good news, we know the right path forward.

So let me start with the reason that we’re having this conversation, which is that today’s careers are failing both employers and employees, organisations are concerned that we are going to be faced with capability gaps in the not so distant future. Three quarters of heads of HR say that in the next 3-5 years they will have a shortage of key skills in their organisation. And that’s not just theoretically concerning, that means that we are looking at a future where we don’t have the internal capabilities we need to execute against our business strategy. And at the same time the overwhelming majority of employees, 70%, are currently dissatisfied with future careers at the organisation and that dissatisfaction is driving departures.

Today a lack of future career opportunities is the number one reason employee’s cite for leaving their organisation and that tops even compensation and manager quality as a driver for dissatisfaction, which suggests employees don’t actually leave because of their managers, they leave because of their careers.

So what is it exactly about their careers that is driving this level of dissatisfaction? Well we’re increasingly not able to meet their desires to continue to move up. Over the past 4 years we’ve seen a steady upward trend when it comes to tenure at all levels. In fact an overall increase in tenure of 30% over the last 4 years, an increase in tenure in role means decreasing upward progression. So this is one of those places where a rising trend line is not necessarily good news, especially for the majority of our employees who continue to see future career opportunities as synonymous with upward advancement. The simple reality of course is that largely upward linear careers are unlikely to return.

Now most organisations have been stripping out management layers for the past decade for multiple reasons; cost reduction, restructuring, new organisation structures and more. And three quarters of heads of HR don’t see us adding back in any additional layers over the next five years and there are no indications that organisational structures will ever look like they did a decades ago. So this is the reality that most of us are in, and that most of us can anticipate staying in: flatter organisations with longer time frames associated with upward movement. The shape of the organisation has changed, and that’s a big part of why the shape of careers has changed and has had to change. But the new shape of careers and the way we have been managing against it is leaving employees unprepared and organisations at risk.

There are two big drivers behind the new shape of careers that’s driving career derailment, longer runs and steeper rises. Now let me talk about what each of these mean and why that’s creating a risky environment to both organisations and employees.

So longer runs, is about longer time in role. Employees are staying in role 30% longer today and they’re simply not getting the broad range of development opportunities they need to perform effectively in more senior roles. Also, because employees sometimes get desperate to move, even laterally, they do not always choose wisely and we find too many end up making a bad lateral move or even leaving the organisation because of these longer runs.

And when employees do finally have the opportunity to move up, they experience steeper rises because the rungs on the ladder are getting further and further apart in our flattened organisations and so when vertical career moves do happen, employees are often taking a significantly broader jump in responsibilities. And today nearly half of promoted employees, 46%, face what we would call a traumatic transition. With flatter organisation structures and narrower development, they are simply unprepared for the next big career move and end up underperforming during and up to 18 months after their transition.

And that is the result of what happens when you combine a new organisation environment that’s flatter, more matrixed, more diverse, more efficient, with a career culture that has employees more focussed on getting promotions than growing capabilities. And that’s why we need to realign our career culture to focus on career growth not just career trajectory.

The thing is though, we already get that we’re just not getting there.

When we asked our members in our survey what elements of a career culture they want over 90% said that ideally they need the organisations career culture to be focused on growth, however when we asked what kind of career culture currently exists nearly three quarters say that it is still primarily focussed on promotions. Meaning that less than one third of organisations that want a growth based career culture have been able to achieve it. But we know that’s got to be the right destination that we need employees to think of their careers in terms of growth instead of narrowly focussing on just how to get that next promotion.

So let’s discuss how a growth based career culture looks different to a promotion based one.

A promotion based career culture is all about the up, movement is largely vertical driven by vacancies and there is little cross functional or cross silo movement. A growth based career culture is all about the build. Employees are building and growing their capabilities through planned-for moves that are lateral and vertical and movement happens across silos and functions depending on growth opportunities and business needs. And based on the reality of the new shape of the organisation and shifting needs of the business we need to shift our career culture from promotion-based to growth-based and what we found is that most organisations today are trying to drive a more growth focussed career culture by focussing on employee ownership of careers.

Today 90% of heads of HR and 76% of employees agree that the responsibility for careers and career pathing falls primarily on the employee, and there are clearly benefits to employee career ownership. Careers are too complex and diverse for the organisation to own anymore, careers can be better customised through employee ownership, employees are more vested and motivated through ownership and they feel more autonomous and empowered than in a culture where ownership resides with the organisation.

And in order to build more employee ownership of careers we’ve been engaging in a number of strategies. We’ve been publishing and sharing examples of different career paths other employees have taken to advance their careers, we’ve been building out our job boards so that employees have visibility into all the opportunities that are open in the organisation and can search for jobs that are of interest to them and we offer training and publish guides all intended to help employees find their career aspirations and plan their path. And it all sounds right and reasonable on the surface. But let’s take a step back for a moment and think about what’s happening.

The organisation looks very different than it used to, even a decade ago, its flatter, more diverse, more globally dispersed probably more matrixed. The business environment also looks very different, it’s a much more dynamic business environment than decades ago, and as we have been talking about, the career environment is changing. The shape of careers is evolving, it’s incredibly complex, diverse, and ambiguous. And so we’ve put employees in charge of their own careers and then we wonder why we’re not moving towards a more of a growth based career culture. And that led us to consider four key questions then, about how we look at career management moving forward.

First if we’re concerned that we will have skills shortages in the future and we don’t think our current career framework is setting employees up to develop the right capabilities, then the first key question is - how should we design careers for capability growth? Second question is how do we motivate our employees to buy into growth based careers? Third, how do we market the right opportunities to the right employees at the right time? And then forth, how do we get managers to better support career growth by sharing talent? And the answers to these questions shape the new path forward and they show why we need to shift away from employee ownership of careers to a new career partnership.

So let me overview what specifically those shifts look like. With our current approach to promoting employee ownership careers we design careers around positions, motivate employees through title progression, market opportunities with a pull strategy and manage career movement by setting expectations around sharing talent.

What we need to do is instead of designing careers around positions we need to design careers around experiences. Instead of still attempting to motivate employees with title progression we need to motivate them with employability. Instead of trying to pull employees into new positions through employee ownership we need to push the right opportunities to them. And finally rather than just setting expectations for managers to share talent, which quite frankly isn’t making it happen, we need to create an environment that supports a talent brokerage instead.

And these necessary shifts in approach represent a different model of career ownership where it’s not just employee owned anymore, it’s also proactively guided by the organisation, and we refer to this new approach as a career partnership, a career partnership better aligns employee and organisational interests and employee and organisational outcomes in the end. And what we know from our research over the past year and will see in the data as we talk more about why a career partnership works, is that career partnerships create reciprocal value for both the organisation and the employee and drive outcomes that matter to the business. So let me explain how we measure that.

We started today talking about how organisations are concerned about capability gaps in the future, we see a pending shortage of key skills in just the next 3-5 years and we also saw that 70% of employees are dissatisfied with career opportunities in their organisation. And what we’ve found is that career paths directly address both urgent challenges by increasing employee’s career satisfaction. Let’s talk for a moment about what that means and how it works.

First let me explain what we mean by career satisfaction. We’re not looking at a career satisfaction metric for this, simply a matter of measuring whether or not an employee tells us that they’re satisfied with their career at their company. Our definition of career satisfaction is more specific, it is the extent to which an employer meets an employee’s career interest compared to other employment options, and we think it make a lot of sense to have that external component to our measure of career satisfaction. Employees are consistently evaluating their current situation in the context of other options outside their current company, so we need to understand that perception in our measurement of their career satisfaction.

And what we find through our analysis is that when employee’s career satisfaction rises, as measured in this way, two things happen. We have employees building the skills that the organisation needs for the future which builds workforce capabilities and reduces the likelihood of future skill shortages and we have increased levels of employee engagement, which means high levels of intent to stay and increased discretionary effort.

So what’s the impact of a career partnership on our approach to career satisfaction? Well, we can improve career satisfaction by up to 24% by designing careers around experiences compared to only 11% increase by designing career pathing around positions, even when we do that really well. When it comes to how we motivate employees we can improve employee’s career satisfaction by up to 22% by focusing on how we’re improving their employability through growth based careers.

Now we do get a 17% potential lift from a focus on title progression, but it’s also not a realistic option anymore, but it is really encouraging to know that employability can have a 22% impact on career satisfaction. And we get a huge impact from shifting how we market opportunities, a pull strategy clearly isn’t working in terms of clearing the internal market or increasing employee satisfaction, but a push strategy can improve career satisfaction by over 30%.

Finally when it comes to how we get our managers to better enable career growth creating a system for talent sharing, a talent brokerage in our language, can improve career satisfaction by 27%. And simply setting expectations for sharing talent is not getting movement to happen or career satisfaction to improve. So it’s clear then when it comes to how we design careers, motivate employees, market opportunities and manage movement a career partnership has a significantly higher impact on career satisfaction than what we can achieve with employee ownership alone.

So this paints the agenda for the rest of our series, how do we move to a career partnership model that provides reciprocal value to the employee and the organisation by increasing employees career satisfaction, building employee engagement and building the workforce capabilities that the organisation needs for the future.

This podcast presented key findings from CEB’s research on career pathing and a slide deck covering the information I’ve shared today is available for download on the website. Many thanks for joining us today and hope you’ll join us again for our second podcast where we will focus on how we need to design careers to focus on experiences over positions.

Episode 2

Date: 28/06/16 Duration: 00:18:36

Listen to the discussion on the development of experience-based rather than position-based careers. We'll hear how the National Grid uses career-mapping and an experience-based approach to develop capabilities. Listen to learn:

  • how to move towards experience-based career pathing
  • why this should be a priority for HR and your board
  • how National Grid have implemented experience-based paths effectively.

Voiceover: Welcome to the second in our series of five podcasts from CIPD and CEB on growth-based careers. The series will focus on CEB’s research on the future of career pathing called The New Path Forward – Creating Compelling Careers for Employees and Organisations.

In this second episode we’ll be discussing the development of experience rather than position based careers and take a closer look at how the National Grid use career mapping and an experience based approach to develop capabilities.

First off here’s Ksenia Zheltoukhova, research advisor at CIPD talking about a more individualised approach to career management and the responsibilities of both employers and employees for career development.

Ksenia Zheltoukhova: It’s clear that the approaches to defining and managing employee careers are becoming increasingly individualised and complex. Although people might have a specific vision of how they want their working life to evolve they will be taking into account their responsibilities outside of work too. For example we know that 3 in 5 people will end up being a carer for someone at some point in their lives. Equally they will be thinking about availability of jobs more generally in the labour market and the modes of employment most suitable for their situation, such as being self-employed or taking a zero hour contract over permanent employment. As a result, employees will seek to make the most of their time with a specific organisation, gaining experiences that help them advance towards their career ambition beyond their current employer.

This new career model raises questions about the specific responsibility of employers in guiding individuals career planning and management. Is their responsibility limited to developing only such skills that are clearly relevant to the nature of operations or should it include development that is not immediately useful to the employer but can support the employee’s future career path? Should the development opportunities be made available to anyone in an organisation or prioritised to include a small group of individuals in business critical roles?

To gather insight on the perceived responsibility for workers careers we conducted a series of focus groups with individuals working or looking for work in the UK. There were mixed reactions as to whether they expected their organisation to provide opportunities for career development or whether they saw this as their own responsibility. On the one hand people showed an understanding of the focus on continued self-improvement in order to stay competitive in the labour market, particularly this was relevant for self-employed individuals. On the other hand some respondents believed that the requirements of the job market, the needs of employers and also the availability of development opportunities were all outside of their control as an individual worker. Clearly while individuals may agree it’s their responsibility to look after their own careers overall, some of them are still in the dark about the types of experiences that would lead them to their desired career goal or even ways to go about obtaining those experiences. In addition those feeling less in control of their career paths will expect much more guidance on career development opportunities from their organisation.

To glean the extent to which these expectations of people are matched by employers practice we have then conducted a separate survey with HR practitioners working in organisations of various sectors and sizes in the UK. First we asked the responders to provide their own definition of what talent means in their organisation. Interestingly only 2/10 respondents said that they had formally defined talent, although a further 4/10 suggested there is at least an informal agreement of what is meant by the term. More importantly in describing what talent stands for in their business the overwhelming majority of employers said it was relevant to the expertise that added value to the business or performance that contributed to the business objectives. This definition of talent translates into a particular type of offer that the majority of organisations appear to have when it comes to employee development.

Initially nearly 9 out of 10 organisations had reported that everyone should be considered talent and supported to reach their potential, indicating prevalence for inclusive philosophies of talent management. Yet when reporting on the actual practices supporting employee development it seemed that in 3/10 organisations opportunities to enhance careers were only available to some workers, based on the value they could offer the employer. Furthermore 4/10 HR respondents said the same about availability of an attractive future with their organisation, also based on the potential value that the worker can add to the business.

Another interesting finding concerned the type of development opportunities provided by organisations, in our survey the majority of employers expressed a preference for managing talent according to their own organisations specific standards, so for example they would support employees to build their careers internally but not provide opportunities to pick up skills that could be transferred to other organisations. While understandable in the context of organisational interests to invest in value adding programmes and ensure that talented staff don’t take their skills elsewhere, this approach may considerably limit the promise of employability that underpins the modern employment relationship.

Clearly some employees will be much more empowered than others to come up with a definition of their career goals, better positioned and more skilled to negotiate their career pathways, however others will need much more support. So what can employers do to support their organisations need for talent and performance while at the same time offering staff the types of experiences that can further their careers in the current organisation but also beyond. The way some employers are approaching this challenge shows that there are clear ways to meet both of these goals through smart design and management of growth based careers.

Voiceover: Here’s Nicola Josephs, Senior Executive Advisor at CEB talking about career partnerships and the shift from position to experience based careers.

Nicola Josephs: Today's careers are failing both employers and employees, organisations are concerned that we’re going to be faced with capability gaps in the not too distant future and at the same time the overwhelming majority of employees, 70%, are currently dissatisfied with future career opportunities at their organisation and that dissatisfaction is driving departures. The reality though is that we just can’t support promotion based career cultures anymore. So we need employees to think of their careers in terms of growth instead of narrowly focusing on how to get the next promotion.

Now, I’ll provide a quick reminder of how a growth based career culture looks different to a promotion based one. A promotion based career culture is all about the up, movement is largely vertical, driven by vacancies and there is little cross functional or cross silo movement. A growth based career culture is all about the build, employees are building and growing their capabilities through planned moves that are lateral and vertical and movement happens across silos and functions depending on growth opportunities and business needs. Based on the reality of the shape of the organisation and shifting needs of the business we need to shift our career culture from promotion based to growth based, we do that by creating career partnerships.

Our current approach to careers involves us designing careers around positions, motivating employees through title progression, marketing opportunities with a pull strategy and managing career movement by setting expectations around sharing talent. What we need to do instead is design careers around experiences rather than designing careers around positions. Instead of still attempting to motivate employees with title progression we need to motivate with employability, instead of trying to pull employees into new positions through employee ownership we need to push the right opportunities to them and finally rather than just setting expectations for managers to share their talent we need to create an environment that supports a talent brokerage instead. These necessary shifts in approach represent a different model of career ownership where it’s not just employee owned anymore, it’s also pro-actively guided by the organisation, and we refer to this approach as a career partnership. A career partnership better aligns employee and organisational interests and employee and organisational outcomes in the end.

So, let’s move into our focus for today by talking more about what we mean by shifting from position to experience based.

Right now when it comes steering employees in their careers our idea of guidance is publishing specific career paths and providing employees with access to tools and plans that purport to lead them to specific positions and almost every organisation that we surveyed also shares the success stories of others who have made it through that career path the be like me and make it to the top of the organisation kind of story, inspirational and yet increasingly if we think about it unrealistic, unattainable and ultimately unhelpful because as we saw in our research our career paths become obsolete very quickly these days.

Most heads of HR we talked to said that their career design is just fundamentally too inflexible. In a world of seemingly endless change, less than 20% of us have a career design that effectively adapts to changing needs. We had more than one member talk to us about career paths that become outdated almost as soon as they are published. So, in the end employees find our traditional career pathing efforts fairly unhelpful and only about a third of employees say that they have a good understanding of opportunities and needs in their own organisation, which means that while they still may be trying to climb the ladder we’ve described to them they’re finding broken rungs and an unclear destination, or even a ladder to nowhere. The problem is that most of our career paths are still overly focused on positions. Now, I may be preaching to the converted here but, traditional career paths based on positions are simply unrealistic in today's environment and inflexible in the face of constant change, they don’t focus enough on the relevant capabilities we need employees to be building. Position based career pathing is overly focused on articulating the series of what's, what position leads to what next position which leads you to what next position and so on. The path is all about a series of positions that seem to be clearly linked in a linear fashion to each other with the real focus being the destination and with an implicit promise of ongoing promotions. But, with the career complexity that employees face and evolving needs of the organisation, unless we help employees navigate careers better than posting a series of traditional career paths to positions that may or may not even exist in the midterm they’re not going to be able to grow with the organisation and develop the capabilities that we and they need for the future.

So, instead we advocate focusing careers more on experiences than positions. Careers designed around experiences emphasise the path as much as the destination, but the path is not necessarily about linear connect the dots largely vertical progression because it’s not about positions per se but about the key experiences that build necessary capabilities and the opportunities that provide those key experiences might not even be positions. When we’re able to articulate and manage experiences it provides us with more flexibility to steer employees towards building the capabilities that are critical for the organisation.

When careers are designed around experiences we see that can drive up career satisfaction by as much as 24% compared to up to only 11% for even well designed careers that are based on positions instead, think about why that is for a second. Careers designed more explicitly around experiences helps ensure that employees get the guidance they need to grow with the company, they’re less likely to be frustrated around the lack of progression up the position pathway and they’re more likely to be prepared when they do take on bigger roles.

The next question of course is how exactly do we do that? What does experience based career design even look like and how do you make it work? I want to talk about a really great example of how to do that with our case study from National Grid.

National Grid is a utilities company based in the UK and they stand out for us as a great example of orienting careers around experiences rather than positions. They’ve started this process by looking at key critical roles in their organisation and identifying the experiences needed to assume that kind of role. So it’s not about just telling employees that they need to have a wide range of experiences but rather they’ve articulated a specific set of experiences that will build the right capabilities for these roles. For employees then, it’s not about movement for movements’ sake it’s very intentional and transparent around why these experiences matter. Let me start by giving you an overview of National Grids new approach to career mapping.

A couple of years ago National Grid decided to take a fresh look at how they did career pathing in the organisation with a goal of highlighting more of a holistic picture of how people can and should get the right developmental experiences across their career in order to eventually move into critical roles. They realised that the way they had historically looked at this was much too two dimensional and suggested career moves were really about climbing that proverbial ladder, instead they wanted to show the entire diverse journey that employees can take to grow into their career goals and they saw those as being about career maps rather than career paths and maps are intended to really highlight the multitude of different experiences that link entry level positions to senior level critical roles and in a more three dimensional way.

Two things in particular I want to highlight for you, the first piece is the approach they took determining the right experiences which is by working backwards from critical roles to determine the attributes or experiences that typically lead to success and building out the career maps from there. The second thing we really liked is their focus on the benefit of lateral moves and what they see as connector roles, a diverse range of different experiences that are distinctly laid out as being about career growth and ultimately career progression but primarily through lateral rather than vertical moves. For the employee then that helps build the logic and eliminate much of the perceived risk associated with taking a lateral move. Let’s talk about each of these pieces in a bit more detail starting with how they reverse engineer, in a way, these career maps.

They start by identifying a set of business critical roles across the organisation and that helps to provide some definition and boundaries to the career maps, then they identify groups of experiences that build the capabilities need for that role. Now this immediately shows employees that getting to a particular career point is not about climbing up a series of positions but having the right range of experiences that you simply cannot get through a traditional linear career path, and then they also link these back to even entry level positions to show that everyone has the opportunity, with the right experiences, to move into these critical roles.

So, what's that take away here? That you need to start with the end in mind to frame the map and then you map primarily around experiences needed as opposed to positions acquired. The next piece gets into that middle set of what they call connector roles in more detail showing in particular how they ensure that employees see the benefits of these connector roles in terms of providing the right experiences. What National Grid has come to appreciate is that no single role gives you all the experiences you need to move up into another role, so they’ve sort of fractured the development experiences to show all the different ways you can get all the different experiences and build the right set of capabilities. So they’ll start by looking at all the capabilities that are necessary for success in a particular critical role, then they outline the kind of different roles or experiences that help you build those sorts of capabilities and recognising that career success also comes from experiences outside of roles per se, they also highlight other ways in which people can develop those capabilities and that is one of our favourite parts of National Grids approach, because they think about how this kind of very thoughtful and holistic career and development map helps employees visualise all the different experiences they can pursue that will grow their capabilities in a way that leads to career growth. In terms of results our contacts at National Grid talk to us about both the organisational and the employee benefits to this new approach, to the organisation they feel more confident that their future leaders will have the right skills to lead the business and from the employees perspective they’re finding that access to opportunities expanded because while they may not be the obvious candidate for a role the focus and transparency of the experience based approach encourages business leaders to take a broader perspective on appropriate candidates.

That brings me to the end of our discussion on how to design careers in the new work environment. As a reminder this podcast presented key findings from CEBs research on career pathing and a slide deck covering the information I shared today is available to down load on the website. Many thanks for joining today and I hope you’ll join us again for our third podcast where we’ll focus on how we need to motivate employees to see the value in growth-based career cultures in terms of improving their employability both internally and externally.

Episode 3

Date: 29/08/16 Duration: 00:16:29

Listen to the discussion on how to motivate employees to see the value in a growth-based career culture. Listen to learn:

  • how a growth-based career culture benefits employees and employers
  • how new CIPD research suggests employability is largely subjective and the potential implications this can bring
  • how LinkedIn’s ‘tours of duty’ can benefit organisations and employees.

Voiceover: Welcome to the third in our series of 5 podcasts from CIPD and CEB on growth based careers. The series will focus on CEB’s research on the future of career pathing called, The New Path Forward – Creating Compelling Careers for Employees and Organisations.

This month we are focusing on employability and the benefits to both employers and employees in taking a different approach to career development.

First though, here is Nicola Josephs, senior executive advisor at CEB with a quick recap of what we’ve covered so far in the series.

Nicola: Today’s careers are failing both employers and employees, organisations are concerned that we’re going to be faced with capability gaps in the not too distant future. At the same time the overwhelming majority of employees, 70%, are currently dissatisfied with future career opportunities at their organisation, and that dissatisfaction is driving departures. The reality though is that we just can’t support promotion based career cultures anymore. We need employees to think of their careers in terms of growth instead of narrowly focusing on how to get the next promotion.

I will provide a quick reminder of how a growth based career culture looks different to a promotions based one. A promotion based career culture is all about the ‘up’ movement is largely vertical driven by vacancies and there is little cross function or cross silo movement. A growth based career culture is all about the build, employees are building and growing their capabilities through planned for moves that are lateral and vertical, and movement happens across silos and functions depending on growth opportunities and business needs and based on the reality of the shape of the new organisation and shifting needs of the business we need to shift our career culture from promotion based to growth based, we do that by creating career partnerships.

Our current approach to careers involves us designing careers around positions, motivating employees through title progression, marketing opportunities with a pull strategy and managing career movement by setting expectations around sharing talent. What we need to do is instead of designing careers around positions we need to design them around experiences, instead of still attempting to motivate employees with title progression we need to motivate them with employability, instead of trying to pull employees into new positions through employee ownership we need to push the right opportunities to them and finally, rather than just setting expectations for managers to share talent we need to create an environment that supports a talent brokerage instead. These necessary shifts in approach represent a different model of career ownership, where it is not just employee owned any more, it’s also pro-actively guided by the organisation and we refer to this new approach as a career partnership, a career partnership better aligns employee and organisational interests and employee and organisational outcomes in the end.

Voiceover: It’s clear that the employer employee relationship is changing, new research from CIPD suggests that the perception of employability is largely subjective and often determined by an employee’s perceived value to their organisation. Here is Louisa Baczor, research associate at CIPD, discussing the findings and implications for businesses and their workforce.

Louisa Baczor: We’ve seen a major shift in the work relationship over the past few decades, previously the employer side of the deal was about providing job security in return for loyalty to the organisation but now the deal is focused on supporting people’s employability over the course of their careers and with multiple employers rather than employment in a single organisation.

On the face of it the focus on employability is advantageous for both employers and workers given the uncertainties in today’s world of work. For employees it enables them to develop transferable skills and have more control over shaping their careers based on personal ambitions, for organisations it allows greater flexibility in shaping the workforce according to business need, but at the same time the responsibilities for both employers and employees in the work relationship have become less explicit making it more difficult for the two sides to hold each other to account. There is a risk of the balance of power shifting further towards employers who are no longer obliged to provide job security but can still choose which individuals receive job and development opportunities.

The new type of employment relationship raises questions about the degree of power and responsibility different agents have in supporting people’s employability over the course of their careers. As suppliers of career and development opportunities, employers have choices to make over whether opportunities should be available to all employees or only those in business critical roles. What’s the motivation for developing employee’s career paths beyond the organisation for example? Compared with job security employability is a far more elusive concept, how do you define someone as employable? In its broadest sense employability is about realising ones career opportunities and aspirations but in the short term it is highly dependent on individuals securing jobs, so you can look at it from the perspective of individual characteristics such as ability and motivation, which enhance employability, but you could also look at it in terms of the contextual factors which influence whether an individual would be successful in getting a job or progressing in their job.

Our new report, Attitudes to employability and talent towards a balanced work relationship, explores the attitudes towards employability and responsibilities for career development in the UK. Through focus groups with individuals working or looking for work as well as surveys of HR practitioners and line managers, we found that employability characteristics are associated with individual attributes such as skills and attitudes and are primarily defined by employers based on their assessment of individual’s value to the organisation. The risk of focusing on such individual characteristics is that important external factors contributing to employability are down played, such as the supply and demand of skills in the labour market, so the onus on resolving employability issues is being shifted towards individuals, inevitably encouraging them to focus on short term career goals.

Looking at employability through a narrow lens also risks creating pools of untapped talent for employers and may create a vicious circle of under or unemployment for groups with less bargaining power based on their skill levels or previous career history. Subjective perceptions of employers play a determining role in whether someone is seen as employable or talented and given access to development opportunities, for example we found that practitioners who had previous negative experiences of managing diversity in their organisations were less likely to target disadvantaged groups during recruitment and assigned lower average scores to these groups when assessing them against organisational definitions of talent. We also found differences in perceptions of different workforce groups, for example HR practitioners rated older workers as having a more positive attitude to work but lower potential to develop compared to young workers. Although nearly 9 out of 10 HR practitioners said that everyone should be considered as a talent and supported to reach their potential, when reporting on actual practices supporting employee development, 30% said opportunities to enhance careers were only available to some employees based on the value they could offer to the business. Responses of line managers showed that those in high skill roles or who are degree level qualified or have the skills that are hard to replace are more likely to be offered broad training and development opportunities, this approach to distributing opportunities is understandable, but it seems to undermine the premise of an employability based work relationship for some groups of workers. Those who do not already have the qualities that employers are looking for may miss out on opportunities to develop those making it difficult for them to manage their own careers.

Voiceover: Here’s Nicola Josephs once more, expanding on how businesses can help employees see the value in developing their employability and discussing LinkedIn’s tours of duty as a way of creating mutual benefit for both employer and employee.

Nicola Josephs: Let’s move into our focus for today by talking more about motivating our employees to see value in a growth based career culture in terms of improving their employability, both internally and externally.

Let’s talk about what this looks like and what we need to do about it. Most of us simply don’t provide the opportunities for upward progression in position and in title that we were able to do in the past, in fact nearly half of employees say that it is harder to get promoted today than it was even just 5 years ago, think about that time frame, 5 years ago we were still largely in or just coming out of the great recession and still employees generally think it is harder or at least not easier to get promoted today. Even if upwards careers are highly motivating and engaging in theory they are largely a thing of the past. Our data also shows us that most of us agree that upward careers or promotion based careers are more characteristic of 10 years ago than today. The reality is that we simply have to get employees focused on and motivated by growth based career cultures instead of promotion based ones. The other side of the reality though is that right now they just don’t see the benefits to them. Organisations are providing employees today with growth opportunities, stretch opportunities, job rotations, lateral moves and more, but while employees agree that these growth opportunities are present, they’re not connecting them to their own personal progression. Employees see a disconnect, between career moves for growth and their own personal progression, less than a ¼ of employees agree that career moves for growth, meaning not necessarily for promotion or vertical movement, help them advance and many see sideways moves as really being about a step backwards.

What we need to do to motivate employees to care about a growth based career is focus them on employability instead of title progression. Let me overview what that means and why it matters to us and to our employees. Let me start with our definition of employability which is an employee’s capability, skills, knowledge, experiences, achievements and personal attributes that make them more valuable to an employer and thus more likely to gain employment and achieve success in their career. That means internally or externally more employable, and employability is a worthy goal for both the individual and the organisation. For the employee of course it gives them more job security not necessarily within their own organisation but across the broader job market and for the organisation it creates a more flexible and higher quality workforce because of the focus on market competitiveness. What’s really interesting is that increasing employee’s employability actually increases their career satisfaction more than title progression does, but not only that, the more employable we make employees the less likely they are to leave. Increasing employability increases intent to stay by up to 21% and that’s more than twice as much as increasing their title progression which means that employability builds loyalty.

The big question of course is, how do we get employees buy in for this shift from title progression to employability, what’s the key to motivating employees to embrace the growth orientated career culture? First we need to demonstrate a credible commitment to building their employability, this can’t just be a nice idea in theory. Employee’s need to be able to trust that the organisation will deliver on their side of the agreement before they’ll commit to theirs. That’s what our case from LinkedIn is about, creating a mutual agreement with employees around what we’re doing to build their employability and what the organisation gets in return. Second, we need to have honest conversations with employees about their employability and anchor career conversations around it so that they truly understand their employability. We’ve put together a composite case based on several real examples around how to have those honest conversations that centre on their internal and external employability and market value. Third, we also need to help employees communicate their value internally and externally.

Let me share with you our case from LinkedIn and their tours of duty.

The term 'tour of duty' of course comes from the military where it refers to a specific assignment or deployment, usually for a specified period of time, LinkedIn has loosely taken that concept and created a new kind of career framework with the underlying principle being reciprocity. The company and the employee form, potentially, a series of incremental alliances called tours of duty, and they establish up front how these tours will be mutually beneficial. Each tour of duty is 2-4 years with a pre-determined time frame for re-evaluation by both sides. When a tour is over there are basically two options, first, form a renewal agreement for another tour of duty potentially even very different from the first or two end the agreement and move on. If and when a tour is not renewed the company helped the employee find a job elsewhere, why? Because that’s part of the terms of the agreement. Both parties make an agreement in terms of the tour of duty, so the organisation promises to clearly define the role, expectations, success measures and so on and agrees to help the employee advance their career either internally or externally by making them more employable. In return, the employee agrees to complete that mission or tour of duty as outlined and positively impact the business, the exchange that LinkedIn sees is that the employees invest of themselves to build the companies adaptability and the company invest in the employee to build their employability. That’s what each of these tours of duty outline for both, explicit terms for each in terms of how each party will progress and benefit. What LinkedIn sees as the real benefit of this new approach to the employability contract is that it creates a realistic zone of trust and a much more honest mutually productive relationship.

While we fully appreciate that not every organisation can and would want to fully embrace the tour of duty concept across their organisation, there are ways to think about how you might try this framing, perhaps in a pilot approach, in different parts of the organisation. For example you might identify and target certain roles in the organisation where deep organisational knowledge isn’t required but where the organisation benefits from regular new perspectives and employees would find it a stronger builder of skills or the tour of duty concept might be really appealing to certain segments of employees that prefer the nature of a short term assignment; high potentials, early career employees, maybe millennials or even late career employees looking for a set of diverse experiences to which they could contribute. Finally there are likely roles that are already more project based or time frame specific, perhaps that’s the place to pilot a tour of duty concept.

We like the example of LinkedIn as standing for our first imperative if demonstrating incredible commitment to employability and the way they’ve done that through establishing a new employment contract with employees based on mutual reciprocity and two way value and in a way that is motivating to their employees.

That brings me to the end of our discussion on how to motivate employees to buy into careers designed around experiences by helping them to see the value in a growth based career culture in terms of improving their employability internally and externally. As a reminder this podcast presented key findings from CEBs research on career pathing and a slide deck covering the information I shared today is available to download on the website. Many thanks for joining today and I hope you will join us for our forth podcast where we will focus on how to improve our marketing opportunities to the internal labour market.

Episode 4

Date: 24/11/16 Duration: 00:18:06

In this episode we discuss the need to use push rather than pull marketing strategies to build awareness of internal opportunities. Listen to learn:

  • How businesses can improve marketing of opportunities to the internal labour market.
  • The challenges of a push marketing strategy and how to implement one in your organisation.
  • Why push marketing strategies are essential to retaining talent.

Voiceover: Welcome to the fourth in our series of five podcasts from CIPD and CEB on growth based careers. The series focuses on CEBs research on the future of career pathing called The New Path Forward - Creating Compelling Careers for Employees and Organisations.

This month we are focusing on how businesses can improve their marketing of opportunities to the internal labour market.

Here’s Ed Houghton, research advisor at CIPD, discussing the need for new approaches to career development and the ways in which organisations can build talent management strategies to ensure talent remains in the business.

Ed Houghton: At the CIPD we know that the traditional career paths are no longer fit for purpose and do not fit the needs of the modern workforce. As you will have heard from previous episodes in this series, promotion based career path strategies are no longer enabling the engagement and retention of workers. They are instead based on old models which are highly process orientated and do not fit the unique needs of the workforce. Organisations now must consider new approaches to developing individual careers with a view to upskilling and improving capability, whilst providing flexibility and the opportunity to experience different aspects of a career in both a short and long timeframe.

Finding the talent internally and ensuring that a ready supply is accessible and willing to fill these roles is part of the succession planning process in the HR system. It is crucial that internal marketing processes must be aligned to the succession planning approach that has been applied by the HR function. Succession planning is the way by which the HR team identifies and develops potential future leaders or senior managers in the business. Those who are lined to fill business critical positions can either move into roles in the short or long term. Succession planning often includes training and development as well as the provision of practical experience, either internally or externally to the business. It is through these processes that talent will be identified and allocated accordingly to the correct pools of current or future roles. The marketing process that serves this is in essence in place to ensure that individuals are aware of these opportunities and understand the development needed to meet these new role competencies.

We have done a lot of research which explores the structure of roles in organisations and have found that many organisations are redefining their structures and are applying more flexibility in the way that they structure their roles. This is positive and lends itself well to the needs of the current workforce which are to experience roles that are both laterally and vertically aligned to their current positions. What can be challenging however is how we market these opportunities across the business to attract internal talent to apply for these positions. We want to understand how better to push some of these internal opportunities to our internal staff, to ensure that these opportunities are available to individuals and that they recognise them as viable opportunities that can help them to deliver and develop their own unique career path. This is particularly true when a role may not be immediately obvious to somebody as a good opportunity to build their career portfolio.

Many employees will still be focused on the traditional route of progression through the organisation which is upwards and as such will be looking to move along this way of progression. There is some need to educate the workforce to some of these horizontal opportunities which may be available to them. In our research we’ve looked at ways in which organisations can build in talent management strategies that ensure the talent remains in the business but also stretches the skills of individuals so new competencies are developed. In our talent management research insight we produced a case study of Gordon Ramsey holdings in which trainee kitchen staff are provided with secondment opportunities to develop skills via new experiences in the workplace as well as test out roles before applying for them, often in high performing parts of the organisation. This model allowed individuals to test out new roles and stretch their capability, when individuals wished to move financial incentives of performance were introduced to drive performance on an individual and team level. The marketing for these positions was experiential, based on the secondment opportunities providing an insight into what these roles entailed, for this case study this meant that talent was suited to the stretch that came from these new internal opportunities.

Finally it helps to consider the employer brand from the internal perspective, our research insight, Employer branding: a no nonsense approach, looked closely at how organisations can apply a simple, but effective, approach to building a strong employer brand which connects the values, people strategy and HR policies so that there is a clear sense of the company brand being conveyed by the business. Actively engaging social media to internally communicate opportunities is a good way of pushing these opportunities to employees across the business, increasing transparency and making employees aware of these new roles which are available to them. You can find out more about this research in our research report: Social technology, social business.

Voice over: Here’s Nicola Josephs, senior executive advisor at CEB exploring the internal marketing opportunities in organisations and how changing marketing strategies can help to better align the organisational needs with the career interests of their employees.

Nicola Josephs: Today's careers are failing both employers and employees. Organisations are concerned that we are going to be faced with capability gaps in the not too distant future and at the same time, the overwhelming majority of employees, 70%, are currently dissatisfied with future career opportunities at their organisation and that dissatisfaction is driving departures. The reality though is that we just can’t support promotion based career cultures anymore. So we need employees to think of their careers in terms of growth instead of narrowly focussing on how to get the next promotion.

I’ll provide a quick reminder of how a growth based career culture looks different to a promotions based one. A promotion based career culture is all about the up, movement is largely vertical driven by vacancies and there is little cross functional or cross silo movement. A growth based career culture is all about the build. Employees are building and growing their capabilities through planned for moves that are lateral and vertical and movement happens across silos and functions depending on growth opportunities and business needs. Based on the reality of the new shape of the organisation and shifting needs of the business we need to shift our career culture from promotion based to growth based. We do that by creating career partnerships.

Our current approach to careers involves us designing careers around positions, motivating employees through title progression, marketing opportunities with a pull strategy and managing career movement by setting expectations around sharing talent. What we need to do is instead of designing careers around positions we need to design careers around experiences. Instead of still attempting to motivate employees through title progression, we need to motivate with employability. Instead of trying to pull employees to new positions through employee ownership, we need to push the right opportunities to them. Finally, rather than just setting expectations for managers to share talent, we need to create an environment that supports a talent brokerage instead. These necessary shifts in approach represent a different model of career ownership where it’s not just employee owned anymore it’s also pro-actively guided by the organisation, we refer to this new approach as a career partnership. A career partnership better aligns employee and organisational interests and employee and organisational outcomes in the end.

So let’s move into our focus for today by talking about how to improve our marketing to the internal labour market. Here we are going to be looking at how we need to change our marketing strategy to better align organisational needs with the career interests of employees through a push rather than a pull strategy. One thing that was really interesting to us in the course of our interviews is how many members told us that while their employers constantly complain that there are not enough opportunities in their organisation, the organisation is constantly having to go outside for talent. Certainly there are some reasons why you would want or need to tap into the external market but we feel like a real miss-match does exist between perception and reality when it comes to internal opportunities. Members who told us that opportunities do exist across the organisation but employees just don’t see it. Less than one out of three employees believe there are sufficient career opportunities at their organisation, so how do we better market and connect employees to the opportunities that do exist?

Well right now we’re taking the wrong approach. We’re employing a classic pull approach when it comes to marketing our opportunities to our employees, meaning a strategy that relies on the employee themselves to seek out all the available opportunities through a variety of channels like job boards, networking, job fairs and so on. We provide the information or the opportunities and we wait for the employees to come to us. The problem is, they don’t, or if they do they don’t find it particularly helpful.

Almost two thirds of employees today are open to, if not actively searching for, new opportunities, but the way that we’re providing that information about opportunities to them now is overwhelming and not particularly useful. Three quarters of employees say they can’t prioritise the information about different roles, they can’t understand the information that we do provide and we make it really hard for them to evaluate whether or not the role is right for them. Clearly a lot of pull approaches end up pushing employees away instead and it’s not helping us connect the right opportunities to the right employees at the right time. What we need to do instead is market internal opportunities to our employees with push strategies, let me explain what that looks like. A push strategy is all about targeting the right internal opportunities to the right employees at the right time, which means building awareness of opportunities before the employees even actively looking. There are three key pieces to a push strategy, by right opportunity we mean that we need to make sure that we understand employee’s interests and aspirations and push the right opportunities to them. By right audience we mean that we need to be marketing opportunities to passive candidate’s not just active ones. The right time is before they become dissatisfied and actively looking outside our organisation, by then it’s too late. This is a big opportunity for most organisations, because right now only about 6% of us have push career strategies.

Let me start by talking about how we push the right opportunities, meaning opportunities that actually align with employee aspirations, skills and interests with our case study from HCL Technologies and their social career navigation system. With HCL, which is an IT services company based in India, we wanted to share with you how they specifically oriented their career navigation system to understanding and guiding employees aspirations to the right opportunities for both them and the organisation, we think there are some great take aways here regardless of whether or not you have a career platform in place or what functionality it includes.

Let’s start with what HCL was trying to solve for. What HCL told us they were finding really frustrating was that in one part of the organisation they’d find themselves losing talent who said they couldn’t find any opportunity to grow, and then in another part of the organisation they would have hiring managers searching for new talent to bring in with similar skill sets to the departing talent and at 30-40% higher cost. So they were incurring the cost of losing valuable employees and they were incurring hiring costs to bring the similar profiles in. This situation highlighted for HCL a couple of key challenges they were facing, first that their employees were struggling to not only find the right opportunities for them across the business but to find out what skill sets the company even valued.

Secondly the organisation lacked visibility into what employees were seeking and a mechanism to guide them to experiences that would help them develop the skill sets the organisation needed. Let me explain how they have addressed both of these challenges with their new approach to not just generally providing more career visibility but to also uncovering aspirations so they can push the right opportunities to them that connect aspirations with the needs of the business, we’ll start by looking at how they focus on understanding and steering aspirations. So a central adage in marketing is ‘know your customer’ and of course the benefit is then that you get to better sell the right products to your customer, that’s really what HCL is doing here, getting to know their customer and also inform their customer with customers being their own employees. What they are trying to know and inform are their employee’s aspirations so that they can push the right opportunities to them.

So, how do they do this? First employees go into their career connect career portal and browse through different career aspirations, they can select up to two, so basically two roles within the company that they aspire to. That’s the anchoring point that’s going to eventually enable HCL to push to them internal opportunities that best align to their aspirations and with the needs of the business. Next step, they schedule discussions with a range of potential councillors to help them pressure test those selected aspirations, they can select their direct managers as one of the councillors or someone from HR, but HCL also provides, through career connect, the names of a number of functional experts who are available to have career discussions around that specific aspiration. Next step then, the employees will finalise their aspirations given those discussions and additional information that the employee has seen regarding specific business demand and then finally they will put together their development plan based on feedback from their councillors as well as peers who’ve pursued a similar path, the development plans are all posted online.

Let’s pause for a moment, what we find particularly new here is that employees have ownership over their career aspirations and development plan but enough input and even challenge from enough informed sources that the employee is guided to pursue experiences that the company values. It’s not about limiting aspiration at all, it’s really about channelling it. Once the employees have selected their aspiration the company can then push relevant opportunities to them in a couple of different ways. First is through targeted outreach based on business needs, so for example if business leaders identify new capability needs given business priorities they’ll partner with HR to determine the relevant skill sets and related aspirations, HR can then go into the career connect portal and search for employees who’ve selected those aspirations and reach out to them pro-actively to let them know about the new opportunities that are related to their aspirations and that are prioritised by the company. Employees can then re-tag their aspirations to the new ones and build a new accelerated development plan for this new opportunity. I also want to briefly mention have they not only sent targeted opportunities to employees based on their aspirations but also how they look at informing and potentially redirecting aspirations for the long term.

HCL also encourages their businesses to promote particular growth areas directly to all employees through the career connect portal that keeps employees up to date on growth and investment areas of the firm and helps them understand how to connect their own career to these growth opportunities. They can even point out specific aspirations on the career connect portal that are linked to this kind of growth area and highlight ways to get the right development and then once again employees can go back into the portal and update their aspirations, get more feedback from career councillors and update their development plan and so on. So the information that the company provides employees allows them to contextualise their aspirations selection around what capabilities the company prioritises so that individual and the organisation can stay aligned and the organisation can continue to push relevant opportunities to the employees.

They have already seen some very strong results today. They were recently highlighted in the international business journal as being the only company where the attrition rates for IT majors was not going up, in fact of the employees who have submitted and then revoked their notice over the last 2 quarters 65% of those saves were said to be attributable to career connect. Also important benefit articulated by the client was that by channelling employees aspirations and development they’re also better able to provide the business with talented skills and the capabilities that the business requires and that really gets to the challenge that we talked about earlier, the perceived miss-match between employees and the organisation in terms of the opportunities that actually do exist in the organisation. It’s about making sure that we can understand and direct employee’s aspirations and development to the right experiences and then pushing those opportunities directly to them.

That brings me to the end of our discussion on how to better market our internal opportunities. As a reminder this podcast presented key findings from CEBs research on career pathing and a slide deck covering the information I’ve covered today is available to download on the website. Many thanks for joining us today and I hope you will join us for our fifth and final podcast where we will focus on the manager, and specifically about how we address the seeming perennial challenge we struggled with about how we get managers to stop hording talent and making sure that movement for career growth is actually happening.

Episode 5

Date: 11/05/17 Duration: 00:22:10

This podcast focuses on the line manager and how organisations can develop a system of talent brokerage to:

  • encourage the sharing of talent
  • ensure that critical skills can be accessed where they are most needed across the business

Voice over: Welcome to the final episode in our series from CIPD and CEB on growth-based careers.

The series focuses on CEB’s research on the future of career pathing called: The New Path Forward – Creating Compelling Careers for Employees and Organisations.

This month we’re focusing on the line manager and how organisations can develop a system of talent brokerage to encourage the sharing of talent, and ensure that critical skills can be accessed where they are most needed across the business. 

But first, here’s Nicola Josephs, Senior executive advisor at CEB with a quick recap of what the series has covered so far. 

Nicola Josephs: Today’s careers are failing both employees and the employer, organisations are concerned that we are going to be faced with capability gaps in the not too distant future and at the same time the overwhelming majority of employees, 70%, are currently dissatisfied with future career opportunities at their organisation and that dissatisfaction is driving departures. The reality though is that we just can’t support promotion based career cultures anymore so we need employees to think of their careers in terms of growth instead of narrowly focusing on just how to get that next promotion.

Let me provide a quick reminder of how a growth based career culture looks different to a promotion based one. A promotion based career culture is all about up, movement is largely vertical driven by vacancies and there is little cross function or cross silo movement. A growth based career culture  is all about the build, employees are building and growing their capabilities through planned for moves that are lateral and vertical and movement happens across silos and functions depending on growth opportunities and business needs. Based on the reality of the shape of the organisation and the shifting needs of the business we need to shift our career culture to focus on growth rather than promotions and we do that by creating career partnerships.

Our current approach to careers involves us designing careers around positions, motivating employees through title progression, marketing opportunities with a pull strategy and managing career movement by setting expectations around sharing talent. What we need to do is instead of designing careers around positions we need to design careers around experiences, instead of attempting to motivate employees with title progression we need to motivate with employability, instead of trying to pull employees into new positions through employee ownership, we need to push the right opportunities to them and finally rather than just setting expectations for managers to share talent we need to create an environment that supports a talent brokerage instead. These necessary shifts in approach represent a different model of career ownership where it’s not just employee owned anymore it’s also pro-actively guided by the organisation, we refer to this new approach as a career partnership. A career partnership better aligns employee and organisational interests and employee and organisational outcomes in the end.

Voice over: Research from CIPD’s Attitudes to Employees and Talent report suggest that organisations need to do more to develop a shared understanding around their talent strategy.

Here’s David Hayden, L&D Consultant at CIPD, discussing the research and how the HR and L&D professionals can help their organisations move towards a growth-based career model by defining more clearly their talent strategies and supporting better access to career opportunities for their employees.

David Hayden: So if we are serious about changing the perspective of designing our career experiences within an organisation from the traditional ladder and position based approach to a more of a growth based approach experience with vertical lateral approaches then we need to think about how we manage this. We need to consider who are the main players in this? Three groups jump out to me straight away. The HR and L&D practitioners, the line managers and the specific employees themselves. Within this podcast it may appear that we are piling pressure on the line manager, reverting to the default position of blaming them for not sharing talent. I want you to take a step back for a minute and think about the context the line managers are operating within and what may need to happen to support them fully, thus allowing them to embrace the concept of talent brokerage. I want the HR and L&D community to think about three things in how they can support the move to a growth based approach.

  • Firstly how joined up are our approaches?
  • Secondly do we have a common definition of our talent strategy?
  • Thirdly what support do we offer our employees to access their career opportunities, as well as challenge any potential barriers?

Let’s look at each of these in turn.

Firstly how joined up are our approaches?

We need to think about the messages we send out to our managers and which of the messages land and which have priority for the receiver – let me give an example here – in a world where managers are targeted to cut costs, deliver quicker and do more with less, then we have to ask ourselves is it not surprising that they can fiercely protect the workforce they have developed.

We also need to consider how this approach is linked to other aspects such as our reward strategies – are managers rewarded on their own outputs or on the wider organisational outputs – is there an imbalance between what may be on our values and our website – for instance “we value teamwork” and individual performance bonuses– does this approach foster a culture of sharing resources?

Looking at recruitment where the associated costs may well sit with the hiring operations manager: they need to recoup that cost as quickly as possible – so for the new starter, time spent understanding the rest of the business may well be minimal.  If the cost came out of a central pool then would the line managers be more receptive to sharing their resources?

The final example in this section on our joined up approaches is how do we communicate to - and develop our line managers – do we encourage them to develop their staff, do we allow time and space for this to happen?  Do we harvest stories of success and share these across the organisation?

Secondly in thinking about how we can support a growth based approach - do we have a common definition of our talent strategy?

The CIPDs September 2016 research report on Attitudes to Employability and Talent highlighted some fascinating stats.  The research base of over 1000 HR practitioners shows

  • almost three in ten practitioners (28%) admitted to having no definition, despite having a strategy in place for the organisation and its people
  • about half of all respondents (499) then provided their definition of talent in an open-ended format
  • only 22% of respondents said their organisation had a formal definition of ‘talent’ as part of their strategy
  • 42% suggested that there is at least an informal agreement of what is understood by the concept of talent

What do these stats tell us – well let’s look at the 22% first – they have a clear definition of talent – at least that is explicit and can be shared – but what about the 42% suggesting that there is at least an informal agreement on what is understood – and the 499 respondents who suggest that there is an open-ended format -  how can the HR and L&D teams be sure that there is a common understanding across the whole  organisation – does this allow for interpretation or confusion and a lack of clarity around the purpose and direction of the talent strategy? And then, what is the impact around that lack of clarity across the organisation?

The challenge for HR and L&D practitioners here again is clarity and support and targeted communication with a joined up approach.

The third point I would like to make in building a growth based career approach is what support do we offer our employees to access their career opportunities and challenge any potential barriers?

The CIPD along with Halogen software produced the HR Outlook Autumn 2016 edition, and there are some interesting insights which the HR and L&D profession can link to this to the concept of career brokerage.  The outlook was based on a You.Gov poll with over 2000 employees responding. Key highlights include:

Employees say that their managers are most likely to be very well/fairly well committed to their organisation (70%)

On the other hand, employees are most likely to say their managers are fairly poor or very poor at, keeping them in touch with what is going on around 25%, discussing training and development needs is also fairly poor or very poor at 23% and also at 23% fairly poor or very poor is the line manager acting as a role model in the organisation.

This tells us that potentially we have a pool of supportive managers who are committed to the organisation, so if we get the communication element right, then we can harness this large group of managers to be advocates of the process of supporting an alternative career development programme. However, there is a pool that needs to have some significant development in the areas of

  • Keeping in touch with what’s going on
  • Discussion L&D
  • Being a role model

More than two-fifths (46%) of employees strongly agree or agree that their organisation provides them with opportunities to learn and grow. However, just over a quarter (27%) disagree or strongly disagree that they have the opportunity to learn and grow – 27%!

Again this offers a starting point to build upon and form an understanding of the challenges we face in balancing the career aspirations of the employees and balance that with the needs of the organisation to address this.  It is also worth revisiting the promises and signposts we make in the recruitment process and the messages that are implied within the careers pages of your website

In conclusion to the three points made around developing a career growth based approach: we need to ensure that

  • Our approaches, policies, practices, communication and development messages are joined up
  • We have a common definition of our talent strategy?
  • And we support our employees, and their managers, to access a variety of career opportunities, and support them in the way they can challenge any potential barriers?

Nicola Josephs: Let’s move into our focus for today by talking about the manager and specifically about how we address the seeming perennial challenge we struggled with in terms of getting managers to stop hording talent and making sure that movement for career growth is actually happening.

I don’t think it’s a surprise to anyone listening that talent hording continues to be a problem at most organisations, 6/10 heads of HR said that their managers were unwilling to share talent with other managers in the organisation. Let’s think for a moment about how we’re trying to get them to share talent, we tell them it is something that they have to do, that they need to let their talent go and that it’s good for the firm. What all that says to the manager is that whether it’s through altruism or sheer martyrdom, you need to export your talent and then we wonder why it doesn’t happen and why employees aren’t able to get the career movement that they need to continue to grow. So, what do we do? Well now we get serious and we try to put firm expectations in place through their objectives. Because managers don’t seem to be naturally willing to share talent we’ve been trying to attach more teeth to our expectations with nearly half of organisations trying to hold managers accountable for exporting talent through their MBOs or goals, but what we found is that setting clear expectations for talent sharing does not necessarily generate more talent sharing. In organisations where managers do not have MBOs related to sharing talent 39% are willing to let their talent move, and in organisations where managers do have MBOs related to sharing talent 40% are willing talent exporters, essentially the same amount. What this tells us is that making sure that managers understand the organisations expectation for them to share talent even through formal goals is insufficient, what we need to do instead of simply setting expectations is enabling it to happen through a talent brokerage.

Let me explain what that means and how that changes both the willingness and ability of managers to share talent across the organisation. So talent brokerage is about providing stakeholders with the information, access and governance needed to effectively share talent across the organisation. Having a talent brokerage increases manager’s willingness to share talent by 50% and it also increases employee’s career satisfaction because movement for career growth is more likely to happen. Let’s talk more about how that works and what we mean and don’t mean by these key components of a talent brokerage. First a talent brokerage requires managers to have the right information about talent across the organisation and that means access to information about their skills not just employee profiles, that’s where you see the biggest impact on career satisfaction. Second there must be a system in place that supports both the give and the get when it comes to sharing talent, but of course the talent brokerage also has to have some regulation or governance as well to make sure that moves are productive. When we compare the impact of a talent brokerage where managers have access to information about employee skills, where they are encouraged to both import and export talent and where there is appropriate regulation to simply setting expectations to share talent we see that we get a significantly larger impact on employee career satisfaction through talent brokerage.

Let’s discuss our pseudonym case study from Cyber Company that addresses the need to provide managers with information about skills not just employees and also ensures that they’re creating a market place that helps managers import not just export talent. Cyber Company is a pseudonym for a company in the engineering industry based in the US and we think their case stands as a great example of how to show managers the benefits of a talent brokering and provide them with the right system to make it happen. With Cyber they do this by making sure their managers know what critical skills they need on their team, what they currently have and where they’ve got the biggest risks and where they can fill those gaps. So it’s not just about telling managers to share talent and assume risks simply because it is good for the broader organisation, it’s about creating a business based urgency to share talent centred on managers knowing the capabilities they need to fulfil their business needs, this helps shift the managers mind set from risk to reward when it comes to sharing talent. What Cyber has done to address that is created a mechanism to help managers build a catalogue of critical skills inventory that’s about the what not the who, so lifting out of the individual and focusing more on what do they have that the business really needs. Cyber now makes it the responsibility of each manager to go through the process of identifying the skills portfolio that’s critical to them, so they provide managers a number of questions that they are asked to consider in order to build out their critical skills portfolio. They are asking managers to think about skills in the context of the business needs current or future that are difficult to source or develop, that require long term investment and that are necessary for differentiating the business, delivering to customers and so on. It’s no longer about asking the manager who’s really important on your team and if they left you you would be in a lot of trouble because that leaves the manager to focus on individual people, so you’re not profiling Sally you are profiling the skill. That is what this exercise is all about, identifying skills that are imperative to the current or future business needs and making the manager responsible for ensuring that they’ve got the right inventory of those skills to meet the needs of the business. Two important notes about this part of the exercise, first that the managers define the critical skills themselves not the organisation so that the manager has ownership over identifying what is relevant and critical to their part of the organisation. Second, a great thing about this part of the process, is that because each manager is going through this process through their own lens but with a similar discipline and focus on objective assessment of business criticality the managers are building a greater trust around the assessment of employees skills which is helping smooth the hurdle around managers feeling they can’t get an objective assessment of talent at they might want to import. After the manager identifies their critical skills portfolio and how many people they need with those skills the next step is to help managers understand where they have got gaps and risks in their skills portfolio.

What I want to discuss here is how this kind of risk assessment creates self-awareness on the part of the manager and urgency around maintaining the right balance in their portfolio. Cyber created a simple visual tool that outlines the results of the assessment of critical skills, they list the names of the team manager who have done each of these assessments and then next to the name are the details around each of their skills portfolio. So first they indicate the number of critical skills they’ve identified for their skill portfolio and then the number of experts and protégés they have across each of those critical skills and all that information is assessed and input directly by the manager, so they have assessed each of their employees in terms of their proficiency levels in those skills, those with the highest level of capability are termed experts and those still mastering the skills are protégés, this is their bank, their supply when it comes to their skills portfolio. They also input into the system how many people they need with each of the skills, so what’s the demand, and then they system does the calculation to determine whether any of the skills in the managers critical skills portfolio are at a risk based on whether there are enough experts or protégés in the portfolio for each critical skill, it then highlights through colour coding if there is a high, medium or low risk associated with any of the skills. What this does is put a spotlight on what skills the manager needs to pro-actively manage in their skills portfolio, they can look at the report and say ‘what’s my exposure and where’s my urgency’ and this self-awareness now catalyses them to think about where they need to import talent, around what skill area, to be able to maintain their portfolio strength and support the business. 

Let’s take this outside the technology for a moment, this is not about spreadsheets and colour coding you don’t need to have a system underpinning this like Cyber does. This is about making sure your managers know what skills they need, know what skills they’ve already got on their teams and that they’ve got visibility into gaps that might be putting their business at risk. This is the information that creates both a business sense of urgency to participate in a talent brokerage as well as enabling managers to understand exactly what they need from a business perspective because they know their risk levels and they will discuss these risks with their peers and executives in talent reviews. In talent reviews now executives will highlight to their teams places where there is an indication of high risk in terms of specific critical skills in their portfolio, the conversation then centres on how to ensure that risk gap is closed, either by further developing a protégé in the pipeline or importing talent from elsewhere in the organisation. While the fact that the system calculates a risk level drives the urgency to import talent the fact that executives and peers are also focusing on skills gaps also creates another type of soft accountability that’s spurs action as well.

Cyber has also focused on making that search for skills as easy as possible for managers. The skills portfolio system that catalogues all critical skills and skill levels of employees is also a searchable database that managers can use to identify employees who can round out their skills needs, then the manager in need can reach out to the manager or the employee to get more information in case they potentially want to import that specific talent if they’re available, obviously they will check with the employees current manager before proceeding with the recruiting process, but it gives managers a credible and easy way to search for talent that has the skills they need to import. This is a key part of the market place they’ve created to help managers directly broker talent. In terms of results, what we’ve heard from Cyber is that from managers perspective it increases the trust they have around talent from other parts of the organisation because of the discipline in rating for skills, ultimately helping them locate talent they want to import and for HR they’re seeing more trust developing between managers about talent sharing when HR is taken out of the equation.

If we are serious about changing the perspective of designing career experiences within an organisation from a traditional ladder and position based approach to more of growth based experience, vertical, lateral approach then we need to think about how we manage this.

That concludes our podcast series on creating compelling careers in the new work environment, a final reminder that this podcast presented key findings from CEB’s research study on career pathing and a slide deck covering the information I shared today is available to download on the website. Many thanks again for joining.

You may also be interested in ...

Surveys

Employee Outlook

Explore our biannual survey of UK employees to identify their opinions of and attitudes towards working life, produced in partnership with Halogen Software

Read more
Factsheets

Talent management

Understand the changing context and business case for talent management, and the key features of a talent management strategy

Read more
Top