Building employee loyalty: Developing a “career management” reflex

Barely 25 years ago, companies dictated their employees’ careers. When employees were loyal, they were well rewarded! Nowadays, the young people coming onto the job market flitter from one job to the next like bees in search of precious nectar: their dream job. The new generation of grads seeks accomplishment, challenge and recognition. To manage and develop the loyalty of these ambitious types, think “career management and transition.” Interview with Sandra Boyd, principal at Knightsbridge Human Capital Solutions in Toronto.

Career management issues

The first challenge for companies is to hang onto their employees. You want to prevent ambitious employees from straying over to the competition the second they get a slightly better offer. It is therefore vital to secure the loyalty of these key corporate resources, which is where career management comes in. This management technique is relatively new and has revolutionized human resources thinking. Nowadays, considering the career of employees means showing that you are attentive and ready to help them develop a career path. This doesn’t mean you want to get rid of them, but rather that you have their interests at heart.

More specifically, what does career management involve?

In our agency, we coach managers to help their employees be engaged and view their career over the long term. The final message that managers will convey to their teams can be summarized in a few points:

  • Adopt a careerist attitude; share your ambitions for the future with your employer.
  • Stay up to date with market developments in order to position yourself as a key resource.
  • Set your performance objectives above your employer’s expectations; give yourself personal challenges.
  • Network continually to be aware of all the opportunities around you.

How is it in companies’ interest to have employees network?

Networks are not necessarily seen as a way to find a more suitable employer and change jobs. It’s just the opposite—employees who cultivate their network are more involved in what they do. They draw satisfaction from their professional relations and ultimately put in more effort for the company. Keep in mind that new management is based on the individual and not on the group. The generation arriving on the job market is more egocentric, so you have to provide ways for them to achieve as individuals and not just within a team. Your job is to craft roles for your employees such that they are engaged in their work and are personally fulfilled. This is done by giving them responsibilities as soon as they are hired, but also by varying their tasks to prevent boredom! Having them get out and network is part of these engaging and motivating tasks.

Which companies are implementing career management?

All kinds of companies, from small communications firms to large, advanced technology companies. It’s true that new technology, computer, telecommunications and media firms are more open to these new forms of management. Traditional companies, which are more patriarchal, with a more rigid hierarchy, tend to have difficulty accepting these methods.

Career management also includes the notion of career transition. More companies are setting up this type of program. We regularly see employees when there are organizational restructurings or company mergers. Our goal is to advise them on how to take charge of their career after a layoff, or how to work with new bosses, for example.

Do you think that career management is a fad?

No, this management method has staying power, because it is perfectly tailored to the new generation coming onto the job market. There’s a lot of talk about Generation Y and its high expectations turning the workplace upside down, which also means intergenerational conflicts in companies. Managers therefore need tools more than ever! But while career management provides modern solutions, changing attitudes can take a while.

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