Fifty-five percent of high-potential employees being developed by employers leave for competitors within five years, costing their companies billions of dollars annually, according to a report from CEB. This high turnover rate is attributed to the mis-identification of which employees to concentrate on developing, leading to resources being diverted from the most suitable candidates. However, the reward for successfully cultivating employees is high; CEB found that organizations that developed strong leadership up to doubled their revenue and profit growth. Encouraging professional growth among employees can be profitable — provided you take the right approach.
CEB’s research identified three key characteristics that identify employees with high advancement potential:
CEB recommends HR managers should use a systematic process to measure these qualities objectively, rather than relying on intuition.
CEB found that 89 percent of organizations fail to ask employees for a commitment to staying with the company when providing career development support. They recommend that when you consider investing in an employee, you should review their present degree of engagement with the company as well as their long-term commitment. Talk to the employee about their career goals and how you can support them, and communicate how your investment in them is an exchange for a commitment.
CEB found that the companies which are most successful at developing employees combine the refinement of existing skill sets with the training of new skills. Skill development should be geared toward supporting both the employee’s career goals and the future role they will be serving at the company. For instance, an employee with a background in accounting who aspires to become a credit analyst might be sent to a Moody’s Analytics Corporate Credit Rating Analysis seminar in order to develop specialty skills. The employee can then combine their new skills with their existing accounting knowledge to handle a wider range of specialty tasks within their company.
CEB’s study found 70 percent of employees will stay with their current company if their employer gives them unconditional support in pursuing a challenging task that stretches their skill set and role in a visible way. Top-performing employees usually come to a company because they felt limited in their previous position and they’re looking to expand their horizons, so if they don’t get this opportunity, they’re disinclined to stay.
Giving employees a challenge can involve expanding their existing role to include new tasks or promoting them to a different position. Methods of expanding employee responsibilities include soliciting their input on strategic planning, moving them to a different area and involving them in training others. Make sure that employees who have mastered a task are given new challenges, and pair high-performing employees with managers who are also top performers. This creates an overall environment conducive to optimal performance.
Roy Rasmussen, coauthor of Publishing for Publicity, is a freelance copywriter who helps small businesses get more customers and make more sales. His specialty is helping experts reach their target market with a focused sales message. His most recent projects include books on cloud computing, small business management, sales, and business coaching.
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