Work isn’t just “work”—for many of us, our jobs are a part of our identity.
In fact, in the 2018 State of Workplace Empathy Study, 92 percent of employees responded that offering career path guidance demonstrated a company’s empathy. And empathy has real workplace implications. In the study, employees also overwhelmingly stated that if their employer lacked empathy, they would leave their job for more empathetic pastures.
CHROs and other leaders should recognize the importance of career guidance as a way to help all their employees find the right path for them—whether it’s young employees just starting out, established workers wondering about the next step in their career, or employees preparing for retirement. Plus, boomerang employees are becoming highly sought after in the modern workplace. With their day-one value and lower onboarding costs, it’s important to keep the door open for those who actually decide to leave. If leaders are willing to listen and provide flexibility when it comes to career changes (even laterally within the company) it can benefit both the employee and the employer with a “stickier” workforce.
Here are strategies to meet the career-guidance needs across your multigenerational workforce:
Early career: Learn by doing. Starting your career is exciting and a little intimidating. Stuck in the conundrum of needing experience to get hired but needing a job to gain that experience is stressful, and employees that are new to the workforce—now Gen Z or young Millennials—often don’t have the resources they need to plan for their future careers. HR and company leadership can help by instituting rotational programs, where new employees work in different roles or departments before settling into one position. Giving younger employees experience in different roles will help them determine what they enjoy and what they excel at—even if it’s something different than what they anticipated.
Consider having experienced employees take part in a mentor program so new hires can ask questions and have a trusted advisor to turn to. Shadowing and meeting employees in different areas of your business will provide them with invaluable insights, and it can show new employees that your company empathizes with their need for career guidance.
Mid-career: Support continual growth. Just because an employee has been happy in a given role for a few years doesn’t mean they won’t want to make a change later. For established employees—ranging from Millennials to Gen Xers—you can offer mid-career counseling services. For example, HR professionals can offer skills assessments and provide advice about different paths to pursue in your organization, based on employees’ goals. These activities will let your mid-career employees know that you value their growth and want to help them stay engaged with their work, and your organization.
Late-career: Encourage knowledge sharing. Baby Boomer employees are at a different phase of their careers, and you can support their career choices by encouraging collaboration across generations. Remember that mentor program for young employees in a rotational program? A Boomer employee would be able to provide perspective and advice—from basic professionalism to managerial know-how. But older employees shouldn’t be made to feel they’re training their replacements. Make sure the learning is a two-way street, such as on project teams where employees of different generations can collaborate toward a shared goal.
All employees have lessons to learn and knowledge to share—your organization can help them at every step of their career. The upside? You retain experienced employees longer by demonstrating the empathy they so highly value.
Want to learn more about empathy in the workplace? Check out the e-book with the full breakdown below.