Who's Looking After Our Careers?

Who's Looking After Our Careers?

It seems that increasingly for UK employees it is us, and not our employer, who takes responsibility for our career development. Traditionally we may have expected line managers or the HR team to take the lead in setting realistic performance targets and putting a career development programme in place to help us reach full potential, but around 90% of UK businesses feel the onus now lies with us as individuals.

Some of this may be down to shifting attitudes towards what constitutes career development. The 2014 Kelly Global Workforce Index shows that two thirds of us in EMEA favour acquiring new skills over progression up the corporate hierarchy for career advancement - perhaps unsurprising given that in recent years promotion has rarely bought the job security that it might once have, whilst the importance of skill development and enhancement in keeping us employable and able to progress in to new roles can't be stressed highly enough. This is further evidenced by the figure of 57% who would forego a pay rise to learn a new skill.

If you are looking to your company to take responsibility for career advancement then you may well be disappointed. Globally, only 38% have had a career development discussion over the past year, with the figure for EMEA at 41%. The likelihood of having these discussions also declines with age - 42% of Gen Y have had one, but only 29% of Baby Boomers. Given that many of the latter group are now working beyond traditional retirement age this looks like a missed opportunity, especially as they are the ones more likely to want skills development. Specialisms can also play a part. If you're in sales and marketing then its more likely that you've had a career review - surely not just a coincidence that these are also sectors where rewards are traditionally linked to short term performance targets. Are bosses more worried about their staff being poached?

The big disappointments don't end with career reviews. Only 21% of us are satisfied with the career development resources available through our employers. Given that the resource we rate as most important is usually employer provided training it's probably no surprise to find us turning increasingly to self sourced and funded training, now our second most important career development tool.

We've historically looked to our employers to help advance our careers but no longer seem to be getting the support we need. With development opportunities a clear driver of engagement and retention for so many of us, its time businesses started to communicate more regularly and fully evaluate our career needs, both now and in the future as jobs and industries evolve.