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Apr 12, 2023 Leslie Beale, PCC, JD

Noticing a Change in Your Employees? A Fuzzy Career Path May Be to Blame

With a staggering 10,000 Baby Boomers predicted to retire from the workforce every day for the next 19 years, employee retention has taken on a whole new meaning. The pool of workers ages 16-64 is contracting, and it’s more important than ever to look at all facets of employee satisfaction. Smart companies are making sure their leaders enact a simple solution that benefits the organization as well as the employee: career conversations.  

When employees don’t have a clear vision of what lies ahead, studies show they are less likely to remain in their jobs. According to Gartner, organizations lose an average of $49 million per year in employee attrition due to the lack of career development opportunities. And a recent report from The Adecco Group listed the lack of career progression in the top three reasons for quitting, closely following behind salary and lack of work-life balance.

How can you determine whether the right career conversations are taking place within your organization? Below, I’ve described three case studies of common behaviors resulting from a fuzzy career path. If you’re noticing similar symptoms and scenarios, it’s time to help your leaders keep your workers on the job by making their future crystal clear.

Quiet Quitting, Anyone?

A rising star was praised and told she was performing well, yet watched others around her get raises and promotions while her own career remained static. When she sought feedback from her leaders, they weren’t able to define whether or not she needed improvement, or what career possibilities lay ahead. The results were costly--both short and long-term. Although she continued to perform her job duties, she stopped going above and beyond. She also began to look for another job where a path for advancement was clear.

Symptoms: Disengagement, declining productivity, withdrawal of ideas and innovation

Adults Acting Out

When an organization went through a change at the leadership level, one of their long-term employees began to doubt his future with the company. His concern that his path was no longer what he had envisioned was only heightened by the lack of direction within the new leadership structure. His frustration boiled over, and manifested into less-than-constructive behaviors. He became argumentative, dismissive of the ideas of leadership, and emotionally volatile, costing himself and his company lost dollars in time and performance.  

Symptoms: Hostility, short-temperedness, emotional outbursts

It’s Catching: Quitting Contagion

After his supervisor left the company, a top performer felt unmoored and uncertain of his own role within the organization. Unable to receive reassurance from his fellow team members--who were themselves managing the transition--he endured weeks on the job without any discussion. Finally, he scheduled an appointment with his former boss’ boss, who assumed the meeting was to outline next steps. To the contrary, the employee, unsure of his value to the company, had found another job and was turning in his notice.

Symptoms: Drop in morale, isolation from co-workers, frequent and unexplained absences

Are your team members displaying any of the behaviors above? If so, they may not have a vivid image of their career future. Beware: not only will their productivity suffer, it is often a signal you’re about to lose valuable talent.

For leaders, the ability to recognize potential in their direct reports, nurture and inspire their career vision, and identify the development and resources needed to grow should not be a wish, but a core capability. Do your leaders realize this is a part of their job? Do they have the skills they need to handle these conversations? Do they know how to coach and develop others? If not, we can help.

Published by Leslie Beale, PCC, JD April 12, 2023
Leslie Beale, PCC, JD