It is currently the year 2022, and a pandemic still exists and continues to impact the job market. The nation is grappling with a national labor shortage. Employers are having a tough time retaining their current employees and when companies are not willing to meet the employee’s needs, they are leaving.
As if that was not bad enough, employers are also having difficulty filling the gaps when people leave because finding and hiring people has become extremely competitive. Companies are competing with each other to hire workers across all levels, from first year associates all the way to C-suite executives. As a result, workers are being heavily recruited and quickly promoted, specifically junior staff who are receiving promotions and raises as their employers seek to keep them from leaving. But these new and relatively inexperienced employees may not be ready for their new roles and they may be inadequately supported to accomplish their new responsibilities.
I recently read a Forbes article written by Philip A. Nardone that discusses the current troubles companies face with regard to retaining their employees. Within the article, Nardone points out that “clients won’t get the level of strategy they’ve come to expect, and colleagues may have to ‘play down’ or ‘play up’ to compensate for an undertrained manager.” Nardone is referring to what can happen when employers promote new managers to roles they may not necessarily be prepared for. In a way, companies are being forced to “make it work,” fitting employees into positions they may not be most qualified for. In doing this, employees may make mistakes, which negatively impact the business and/or their own self-confidence.
There is a way to potentially address the fears and challenges currently facing employers across the country: invest in supporting the career development of employees!
Career development is the process employees take to improve at their jobs and ultimately evolve their occupational status. It begins the moment somebody starts working and does not stop until that person decides that they are done. Each path is unique, since different people have different aspirations and goals, which makes the support of career development something that can take time and effort. Many employees view career development support as a crucial factor when deciding who they would like to work for.
So, how can employers meet this need? Mentorship. Employers and firms can help employees develop by providing them with mentors who have “been in their shoes,” uniquely positioning mentors to be able to give relevant advice as needed. Nardone signals a statistic that demonstrates the significance of mentorship: “73% [of employees] said it is “important” or “extremely important” to have a coach helping them guide their overall career development.” These mentors have the knowledge and experience to assist workers with their journey in the workforce.
There are a number of ways that mentors can support employees. They can hold regular (e.g., weekly) meetings to discuss the mentee’s experiences, challenges, successes, and so on. Additionally, mentors can guide mentees to courses or seminars that align with the goals of the mentee, considering their future goals. Lastly, mentors can serve as a source of constructive feedback for mentees, helping to ensure that the mentee is developing all of the skills necessary to reach their ultimate goals. Notice that all of the above “investments” are investments of time and effort, rather than dollars. That’s not to say that investing in other aspects of employee support, such as resources to support employee mental wellbeing, are not important (they most definitely are), but it is to say that not all types of investments need to be conceptualized as dollars.
At a time where so many strategies are being discussed in the employer space, all centering around retaining employees, one common theme that continues to re-emerge is the concept of employee support. Whether that be through individualized employee mental wellbeing support, modification of workplace culture, or even just a stronger focus on mentorship and career development, now is the time to accelerate the support that employers are providing employees. These strategies can play a pivotal role in retaining and attracting the highest quality employees.