Only 15% of employees have regular career growth conversations, according to new research seen exclusively by HR magazine.
The research, from software company Lattice, found less than one in three employees have regular one-to-ones with their manager, while just 22% have clear performance expectations and metrics.
A quarter (26%) said they have a way to provide open and honest feedback.
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Stan Massueras, international general manager at Lattice, said regular conversations around career development is helpful for both staff and managers.
Speaking to HR magazine, he said: “Employers should embrace real-time continuous feedback wherever possible.
“Switching to a more regular and consistent approach helps to provide concrete, tangible milestones for employees and allows businesses to be more agile in identifying and prioritising skills gaps.”
He added that infrequent conversations can become overwhelming and time-consuming.
“Reserving career growth conversations for an annual or bi-annual performance review rarely results in positive outcomes as the needs of the business and the performance or goals of the individual can shift significantly over the course of six to 12 months,” Massueras added.
“Breaking down career growth conversations into more manageable chunks also makes it easier for already stretched managers to deliver on employee development without the stress of looming annual review that will require a huge time commitment.”
Just 13% of employees said they have a clear career growth path and 11% a professional development budget. Only 15% have access to mentorship.
Stephen Adams, a career coach, said leadership may be hesitant to discuss professional development due to lack of their own skills, retention fears or time constraints.
Speaking to HR magazine, he said: “In my experience, managers and leaders can be reluctant to have professional development conversations on multiple levels.
“Some of them simply don’t know how to have a good development conversation, therefore they are unskilled themselves.
“Others feel that by developing the staff member they increase the risk that the employee will leave, and they will then have to recruit for the position. I call this greedy management as it is the leader’s agenda not the colleague’s.
“Finally, there are many cases where the manager and the colleague do not prioritise the time needed for self-development, usually because they are stretched so far in their roles.”
Georgina Huntley, people and culture director at employment agency ManpowerGroup, said employers who do not prioritise developing employee careers will miss out on talent potential.
Speaking to HR magazine, she said: “Without talking to employees about their aspirations, and providing them with the right development and support, employers risk a lack of internal mobility and a loss of valuable talent and knowledge.
“This increased turnover is costly and will negatively impact the employer’s reputation when we consider that career opportunity and development is now higher in the priorities of employees entering the workplace.”