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Career Development Surveys: Do Your Employees Feel They Can Reach the Next Level?

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What are the current attrition rates like at your organization? Is the average employee tenure as long as you’d like it to be? Are employees motivated, energized, engaged, and taking the initiative to move the company toward its goals creatively?

These may sound like separate HR issues, but in reality, they have an underlying connector. If you’re dissatisfied with any of these indicators of culture health, you might need to refresh the way you look at career development within your organization.

Taking a thoughtful look at the way you help your employees career map within your organization can encourage higher productivity, improve morale, and keep employees motivated (and employed at your company) longer. In this article, we’ll explore how a career development survey can help you kick off the process of revamping your employee career development initiatives in a way that’s driven by the best resource of all: real data.

Emploer Who is proud of their staffs career development

Why Should Employers Care About Their Employees’ Career Development?

Career development is a worthwhile investment for both employers and employees alike. According to the University of California, Berkley, “career development increases employee motivation and productivity,” and “attention to career development helps you attract top staff and retain valued employees.”

For employees, it provides a clear path for growth, helping them to acquire new skills, gain promotions, and achieve personal career goals. For employers, investing in career development can lead to a more skilled and motivated workforce, reduced turnover, and the ability for your entire team to pave the way toward a stronger organizational culture.

When you invest in the career development of your employees, you’ll also strengthen your employer brand among current employees and external candidates for open roles. Your reputation as an employer that fosters growth in their employees, values long tenures, and promotes job stability can do wonders for your recruiting and retention efforts.

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Your Step by Step Game Plan for Revamping Your Internal Career Development Initiatives:

We’ve discussed the importance of career development, but knowing how to get started on implementing your employee growth initiatives is another story. Revamping your career development strategies requires a detailed plan and a series of action items for both employers and employees to work through.

While the process of revamping your internal career development initiatives will differ from company to company, here is a general guide for how to get started:

Step 1: Define Your Goals in a Measurable Way.

The first step in implementing your new career development strategies is to define your goals in a way that will allow you to track, monitor, and manage your successes. As the old HR adage goes, to accomplish this, your goals should be “smart,” that is, (s)pecific, (m)easurable, (a)chievable, (r)elevant, and (t)ime-bound. In the context of career development planning, this means:

  • Your goals should be specific. What metrics are you looking to improve? Employers commonly focus on metrics like turnover and attrition, productivity, tenure, and engagement or satisfaction.
  • Your goals should be measurable. To measure your goals, you’ll need to track your progress at regular intervals. This can be done by tracking key metrics and administering career development surveys to gauge the perceptions and attitudes of stakeholders across the spectrum, from employees to managers, supervisors, and leadership.
  • Your goals should be achievable. Not all goals are feasible, or are even worthwhile to pursue based on the resources at your disposal. To determine which goals are achievable, start with a strong set of benchmarking data. You can gather this data from a preliminary career development survey, which will provide insights into career development areas that you can realistically approve. These first-shot surveys provide an invaluable look into where your resource investments are best spent to make the biggest impact.
  • Your goals should be relevant. Your employee career development goals should connect to the greater purposes you’re attempting to achieve. If you’d like to improve career development metrics in order to boost your bottom line, you’ll need to find a way to connect those two concepts. Modern employee survey software can help you pinpoint this and other relationships.
  • Your goals should be time-bound. When would you like to accomplish your career development revamp goals? For example, would you like decreased end of year attrition? Would you like to improve the average tenure length over the next five years? Or are you just hoping to get through a wave of retirements with solid succession plans in place? No matter your goal, it should have a deadline attached—with surveys strategically placed across these time spans to track your progress along the way.  

Step 2: Gather Hard Data on Current Career Trajectories Within your Organization.

What are the current career development opportunities within your organization, and are employees taking advantage of them? How often does an employee receive an internal promotion, and are employees more likely to stay with the company if there’s a clear path forward? Exactly how clear are paths forward for each department, each role, and each team member?

Gather the numbers that answer these and other relevant questions, and you’re well on your way to painting an accurate picture of your “jumping off point.”

Step 3: Take a Pulse on Employees’ Attitudes About and Perceptions of Career Development Within Your Organization.

After you’ve uncovered what your data has to say about tangible career trajectories within your organization, you’ll need to determine how your employees feel about their prospects for career development. This can be done best through the administration of a career development survey.

Step 4: Use the Data You’ve Collected to Determine What Can and Should be Changed

Once you’ve got your data in hand, analyze the results of both your quantitative metrics and employee surveys to identify the most feasible areas of improvement. Identify patterns and common themes in the feedback that indicate widespread issues and opportunities for improvement. Keep in mind that modern survey software is great at doing this for you—taking the guess work out of where to start.

Once you’ve determined which areas have the highest potential impact on the metrics that matter to you, you can prioritize these areas and develop specific, actionable items to address them.

Step 5: Implement Your Action Items, Monitor Progress, and Adjust as You Go

Armed with data and action items to implement changes, you can begin the kick-off of your new career development initiatives. You might consider starting new training programs, mentorship programs, career mapping and planning sessions, or the provision of greater access to learning opportunities.

The key to success in the implementation stage is to regularly monitor the progress of your initiatives through ongoing surveys, performance metrics, and feedback sessions. You should be ready and willing to adjust your strategies as needed based on the new information that comes in, including feedback received from leadership, employees, and their managers.

Sample Career Development Survey Questions:

Well-administered career development surveys don’t rely on just any data; rather, they rely on data that are specific to your organization, your employees, and your collective needs. They aren’t cookie cutter, and they certainly aren’t one size fits all. The questions within the ideal career development survey are well thought out and tailored to your workplace, industry, team members, and operations.

As you’re considering what metrics matter to you, you can use the following sample career development survey questions for ideas:

Questions About the Employee’s Current Role and Responsibilities

  • How would you rate your level of satisfaction with your current role and responsibilities?
  • Do you feel that your current role will help you meet your long term career goals?
  • Are you satisfied in your current role, or is there a next step for you?
  • What is the time frame in which you would prefer to seek a new role or promotion?
  • What are the most enjoyable aspects of your current role and responsibilities?
  • What are the least enjoyable aspects of your current role and responsibilities?
  • What are the most rewarding aspects of your current role and responsibilities?
  • What are the least rewarding aspects of your current role and responsibilities?
  • Do you feel your skills are being fully utilized in your current role and responsibilities?
  • Do you feel that your current role and responsibilities adequately challenge you?
  • Do you feel that your workload is manageable?
  • Are you satisfied with the amount of time you spend focusing on your current role and responsibilities?

Questions About the Employee’s Career Goals and Aspirations

  • What position would you like to hold in two years, five years, and ten years?
  • Which positions within the company do you feel would be a logical and attractive next step for you?
  • Do you believe that your promotion within the company is possible?
  • Do you believe that your promotion within the company is likely?
  • What is your ideal path forward at the company?
  • Are you interested in the functions of any other departments within the company? If so, which?
  • Are you interested in taking on a leadership role within the company?
  • What are the skills or competencies that you’d like to develop within your career?
  • Do you see yourself in this industry for the remainder of your career?
  • Could you see yourself remaining at the organization for the remainder of your career in some capacity?
  • Are you open to relocating for the right next role or promotion within the organization?
  • Do you feel that you have a clear career path within the organization?
  • What barriers do you perceive to achieving your career goals?
  • What are your short-term career goals?
  • What are your long-term career goals?

Questions About the Employee’s Skills and Aptitudes

  • Are the skills that you use in your current role the skills you most enjoy using/
  • Are you interested in learning new skills related to your current role?
  • Are there skills you wish you could develop further in your current role?
  • Do you feel that you receive adequate opportunities for learning, development, and training to help you succeed in your current role?
  • Are you aware of any skill gaps that should be addressed in order for you to be effective in your current role?
  • What skills will you need to develop to succeed in your next role?
  • How often do you seek out learning opportunities on your own, outside of the available learning and development programs provided by the company?

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