Although we may use these two terms interchangeably in conversation, everyone knows the basic difference between a career and a job: a career is for the long term and a job is for the short term. A job is what you do to make money. Maybe you’ll stay for a year or two, maybe not. A career involves investment — it’s a connected series of employment opportunities that allows you to advance up the ladder in both pay and responsibility. You’re more likely to have completed long-term training for a career, such as majoring in that field in college.
For employers, having an employee who is invested in the company and believes they have a future there is preferable. From day one, you should be communicating to employees that your company offers careers.
1. Let employees know they have a future
People are reasonably skeptical about investing in any single employer. After all, they’ve seen friends and family members laid off year after year in a variety of fields. They want to keep their options open.
To combat this, show employees what their future could look like at your company. Demonstrate how loyalty will lead to better benefits and more responsibility. Work with employees to map out their careers — where do they see themselves in the future?
2. Strengthen workplace culture
If people are working for passion instead of a paycheck, the workplace environment will be more positive. This is a tricky thing — strong work culture reinforces retention and retention reinforces strong a work culture.
You can show your employees that your company is a good place to be by investing in team-building activities, making work fun, and being flexible to allow employees to lead their lives. You can also invest in professional development, as our Employee Engagement Survey found that only 25% of employees believe they have adequate growth opportunities.
Management can have a huge impact as well. An employee receiving consistently negative feedback will probably not think of their position as a career. Instead, they’ll be thinking about where to go in the near future.
3. Find out what employees want
When employees see that you’re responsive to their needs, they’ll be more likely to hang around in the future. You can do this through regular workplace surveys and by having conversations with employees. Find out what they want and need to grow within the company.
Investigating why employees leave is also important. For example, consulting company Deloitte discovered several years ago that they were losing too many good team members. A survey of leavers found that 70% could have landed similar jobs if they had stayed at Deloitte. To address the problem, they created a career coaching program for all employees that informed them of opportunities within the company. In the first week, 2,000 employees took advantage of the program.
Keeping employees satisfied and providing adequate challenges without overwhelming them is a difficult balance to strike. But having invested employees who perceive their position at the company as part of a long-term career path is a clear win for both the employee and the company.