We all know and accept that for most employers being your career manager is not a priority for them - they very much see that as your responsibility. Of course the relationship between employee and employer is constantly evolving and different types of career choices are now being made by very different generational groups within the labour market.
The often quoted and at times disputed predicted number of jobs by generation during their ‘careers’ is definitely on the rise. The reasons seem many fold, from seeking a higher salary to being more prepared to move location, looking for a better brand fit and wanting training and development opportunities. Of course another factor is becoming increasingly relevant and that is the marked increase in restructuring and redundancy.
So if employers are increasingly forced into considering making individuals’ jobs redundant should they be surprised when employees stay for a shorter tenure and don’t identify with them as being long term career partners? That said is it a chicken and egg type conundrum; would employers invest more in individuals if they hung around longer or would employees hang around longer if they felt genuinely invested in?
Having studied generational career behaviours and attitudes towards employers on behalf of a global client, focusing on the Generation Y group, it seems clear that an impasse exists in this group at least. The most street wise, financially challenged, brand aware and disenfranchised generation ever has a low tolerance for being mis-sold careers by employers who over promise and under deliver; so that added to the threat of redundancy always potentially circling in the background means that the best talent is tough to attract and even tougher to keep.
Gen Y even call work ‘jobs’ rather than a ‘career’ now, because it is a series of jobs for many. Let’s face it unless in a profession like medicine or law does this definition of career still hold true?
Career (noun) …..an occupation undertaken for a significant period of a person's life and with opportunities for progress.
I’m not sure it does....
When working recently with a range of people facing redundancy as a result of merger and restructure initiatives in a variety of industry sectors it became very apparent t our whole team that people are being left horribly exposed by both their own inaction and that of their employers in offering career support and information.
I see this issue as two fold; many schools, colleges and Universities are still not great at offering a genuinely embedded and popular employability programme. Parents paying the fees and demanding academic achievement above all else; embarked on their careers when employability wasn’t even a word and all that really mattered were exam grades; so as a result clearly talented but inexperienced careerists go into jobs where they need to understand their competencies and manage their careers and they don’t really know how to. When redundancy becomes real many are under prepared at best and typically unprepared. Who should take responsibility for creating this situation?
Fast track graduates and talented first or second jobbers can be seduced into joining some employers with ostensibly genuine and exciting talent attraction messages and development programmes; but how many of them last the distance or are expected to last the distance? How much does this impact their short and long term view of employers as career partners? Who is responsible for building trust between candidate / Employee and Employer about the concept of career?
The second part of the issue is the more traditional Generation X employees. These are the guys and girls who have mortgages and pensions and will have worked for far fewer employers than the following generations will / have had; for many reasons. They are loyal to their employers and have come to expect to be rewarded for their loyalty in the form of training, effective line management and career guidance as part of the deal which results in them working hard and staying put.
This group often has the challenge of being well paid and usually close to the top of their pay grade, making them expensive when the sums are done by those who instigate and organise business restructurings. As a result when faced with the prospect of losing their job, many people become angry and resistant, unable to even think about what’s next for them. Who should take responsibility for creating this situation?
I guess this career management stuff is a bit like going to the dentist. We all know that we need it but only perhaps we only go when something hurts or breaks? I also think, to stretch the analogy, in the past employers were like the NHS; supporting and funding the dentists when you needed it and also encouraging regular checkups and now they just can’t afford to fund this stuff and those who benefit from any kind of career coaching or guidance either pay for it themselves or get support when the tooth needs to come out i.e. redundancy. Who should take responsibility for creating this situation?
I am happy to come clean: we offer career coaching and talent development services, so I have a vested interest as a business owner in making this stuff more accessible to people. I also need to make a living and so pro-bono or low to no fee work just does not make sense commercially.
But then through the work we do I get to meet so many people who are totally forlorn, exposed and vulnerable that I constantly reflect on how we all jointly and individually can let this happen. Without a grasp on key competencies, a stand out CV and the confidence to go into the world and get noticed so many people are negatively impacted by redundancy and some never really recover in terms of career and more importantly confidence and self-worth.
I sincerely hope that the penny drops soon with more employers (and brand managers/PR experts within organisations) that career coaching / awareness support and genuine interaction with their staff to help them to manage their careers and futures within or without of their business rather than just being a cost to be afforded (or not) is a huge brand plus for people to recognise and buy into; both in terms of working for and buying from any business.
In so many areas in business we need to get back to understanding the value of things and not just their cost.
And don’t even get me started on the impact and consequences of zero hours contracts......maybe next time
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