Only one in four employees are confident about their career path at their current organisation, according to Gartner.

A Gartner survey of more than 3 300 employees conducted in March 2022 revealed that fewer than one in three employees knows how to progress their career over the next five years.

Many employees do not feel they can rely on their managers for help – only 50% of employees report that their manager tailors feedback based on the role they want to move into.

As a result, employees are increasingly considering leaving their organisations.

The Gartner survey found that among more than 480 employees who were actively looking for a new job, three-quarters were interested in external roles.

“Employees are leaving their current employers for better professional development opportunities (45%) at similar rates as they leave for higher compensation (48%),” says Vitorio Bretas, director in the Gartner HR practice. “Thirty-five percent of employees surveyed said they left their employer for better career trajectories.”

To make it easier for employees to understand how they can grow and change their careers at their current organisations, Gartner says HR leaders must shift their strategies around three key career growth moments:

* Setting your career trajectory;

* Progressing your career; and

* Achieving your goals.

Experiencing other career options

As work is increasingly distributed, employees spend less time working with colleagues in different roles, making it difficult to observe what career options are available.

Employees need opportunities to experience career options so they can see themselves in careers in an individualised way.

Progressive organisations are investing in tools like internal networking opportunities and career management support – job shadowing, formal and informal discussions around career goals and aspirations – that provide more personal insight into aspects of various roles and career paths.

These investments can boost employees’ confidence in their careers at their current organization by 31%.

Understanding colleagues’ diverse careers

The Gartner survey found that 94% of employees say it’s more or equally important now than before Covid-19 to develop skills outside their roles. Yet, current career development approaches focus on employees growing and developing in their current roles, but not towards future roles.

“HR must show employees that there are many ways to progress their careers at the organisation, not just one correct route,” says Bretas. “Crowdsourcing career experiences from colleagues and leaders can help employees connect the dots between their current career trajectory to possible career moves.”

If an employee’s own experiences are unique, seeing various examples from colleagues shows them where they fit among a diverse tapestry of experiences at the organisation.

Reflecting objectively on your career

Employees have said that the pandemic has caused them to rethink the place of work in their lives.

The Gartner survey revealed that 75% of employees want to spend more time on their personal lives, while more than two-thirds report they want to find purpose beyond work.

Employers need to demonstrate to employees how a career at their organisation can help them achieve their professional and personal goals.

The onus to support employees in understanding how their careers can help them find fulfilment in their lives must be shared between HR and managers. Relying solely on managers is risky, as only 41% of employees feel comfortable sharing concerns with their leaders.

HR leaders must help employees think more broadly than their current roles, so they understand how the organisation can support personal and professional career goals. This objective career reflection ensures employees use real information as their filter instead of assumptions.

“Facilitating employee career growth is critical for retention and is table stakes for your employee value proposition,” says Bretas.