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Employers Helping Employees Make Career Progress Can Combat Quiet Quitting
The numbers of employees quitting jobs—or “quiet quitting”—continues to attract headlines.
But new research from Guild’s “American Worker Survey” suggests that these are symptoms of a greater problem: American workers don’t see opportunities to make progress with their current employers and in their present roles.
Guild, which partners with large employers to offer education and support career opportunities to frontline employees, found in its inaugural research that workers are leaving their jobs because they want career pathways and advancement. This comes even as, in the ideal, these same employees claim they would like to stay with their current employers.
According to the report, 41 percent of those who quit their previous job from April 2021 to April 2022 did so because of a lack of career development and advancement opportunities.
Given that a whopping one-third of all employees in America left their jobs last year, that’s a glaring data point.
The Guild survey also suggests that many more individuals are in the same boat, with 78% suggesting that they’re frustrated because they’re experiencing challenges trying to advance their careers. And roughly three-quarters of all workers said they would be “very likely” or “somewhat likely to leave their current employer if they were offered another role with additional education and career opportunities.
Of course, as my colleague Bob Moesta always says, “bitchin’ ain’t switchin,’” so we need to understand what’s driving individuals who actually switch, not just report that they are interested in doing so.
But the Guild Education research suggests that those who do switch are choosing companies that will prepare them for their future.
The research dovetails with recent findings from the Burning Glass Institute that found that certain companies are far better at helping workers without college degrees move up the career and pay ladder. In other words, if you’re interested in career mobility, your employer matters.
With that said, looking for advancement doesn’t necessarily mean a linear march up the organizational chart within a company.
In our research, we’ve found that companies often confuse career progression for career progress. Career progression is akin to climbing a career ladder within a given company or profession. Career progress, however, is something different and far more personal to each individual and their changing circumstances.
Career progression can’t explain why one individual starts their career working at an accounting firm only to move to a role as an assistant college basketball coach and then moves cities and takes a 9 to 5 job at a government agency.
But an individual’s search for progress in their career can: the employee hated the accounting work and the culture of the firm but loved basketball even though it paid significantly lower. Once they were in a long-term relationship, however, and their partner moved, they decided to follow suit. But now with someone relying on them, they needed a more reliable, better paying job to help them take the next step. But they still wanted the time to stay around the game of basketball, and by holding a 9 to 5 job they could referee basketball games on the side.
The point is that when companies and managers hire an employee, they need to understand what their goals are—and how to support them. What education and experiences do they need to make progress? How can they help? Hiring managers should acknowledge that employees won’t remain in a specific job forever and have these sorts of supportive, straightforward and, all-too-often, taboo conversations up-front.
It’s telling that the Guild survey also found that among those who switched jobs, 34 percent did so in part because of uncaring or uninspiring leaders.
Those employers that invest in getting to know their employees and what advancement and a meaningful pathway looks like to them are far more likely to retain their workers. In today’s talent war with employees quitting in a variety of creative ways, that’s a critical competitive advantage.
This post appeared originally on Forbes.com.