Can you offer career growth opportunities to boost morale?

Staff attrition proves costly for organisations in a number of ways. If you realise your talent is leaving, it's not just a professional you're losing, they take all their acquired skills, knowledge and contacts with them, which can be detrimental of productivity. Somebody else has to step into their role, and it could be weeks or months until they are performing at the same level as their predecessor.

Departing employees need to be replaced, and this means spending time and money recruiting a new member of staff. Then they need to be onboarded, with an effective induction programme and ongoing training. No wonder then that employers are so eager to keep hold of the people they already have.

In a growing economy this can be difficult. Research conducted by Robert Half found that 49 per cent of employers have witnessed a rise in voluntary turnover in the last three years, as new opportunities have emerged in the labour market and people have left jobs of their own accord. More employers are looking to hire, meaning the best candidates can almost pick and choose where they work.

Some are targeting career growth opportunitites, others an improved work-life balance. Often professionals are simply targeting a better deal in terms of pay and benefits. This creates a challenge for many employers - particularly those who are unable to offer the highest salaries. How exactly can they keep their best people onboard and boost morale?

Alternatives to top salaries

If your business has little leeway in its budget to increase pay and benefits, you need to consider other ways of incentivising employees to stay. One of the most effective ways to retain talented workers is to invest in their career development. By supporting these individuals at work and giving them the career growth opportunities to progress internally, you can boost morale.

Ambitious professionals realise it is much more difficult to advance into senior roles at the largest organisations - those which are able to pay a premium for talent. At such companies, there is a lengthy waiting list for the top roles, and even the most skilled and experienced candidates can be overlooked for promotion. Working for a smaller employer - one that offers a smaller salary - may offer a quicker route to the boardroom, and the executive role they crave.

As an employer trying to keep hold of your best performers, you should be looking to create opportunities in-house. Talented employees need to see clear career pathways for them if they remain with your organisation.

You can give them the chance to become a senior decision maker, or at least gain vital leadership experience. Either way, this can keep hold of valuable employees for longer.

Encouraging career growth opportunities

So as an employer, what specifically can you do to encourage talented employees to remain with your organisation and boost morale? First of all, you want them to recognise the potential for career development within your organisation. Asking individuals to tackle a tough problem or a new challenge beyond their normal responsibilities can be a good starting point. Not only does it show the employee that they are a valued member of staff, but it gives you the chance to see how they perform under pressure.

You might want to see the employee give a presentation at a staff or company meeting - some workers may be daunted by the challenge, while others may thrive on it. Those with excellent communication skills and great leadership potential should shine when the spotlight is on them. Once they move into a senior role - as they hope to - they will find themselves in this scenario regularly.

Giving talented staff members increased autonomy is also a good idea. If they have more control over their own work and are able to make more decisions independently, this may be regarded as a career growth opportunity, Employees who feel as if they are advancing are likely to be better-motivated in their job, and as a consequence, more likely to stay.

Another way employers can encourage career growth opportunities is to provide training. Sending valued workers on coaching courses and to other development sessions can help them expand their skills and knowledge, and prepare them for a more senior role. Ambitious individuals will be grateful for the investment you are making in their professional development, and hopefully incentivised to remain with your company.

Furthering staff development

It makes sense to speak to key individuals about their ambitions and what career growth opportunities are available to them, to ensure you have a clear idea about what they are hoping to achieve. Guiding them down one path when they have designs on another is unlikely to have a positive outcome, in terms of encouraging them to stay. It is important to understand what each professional is aspiring to achieve, in which particular field or role. Together you can outline specific steps which will help them achieve these goals and help you hold onto your best talent while boosting morale.

This might involve creating new in-house roles which suit their skills and knowledge base, and provide them with the experience they are looking for. You could also link employees up with a suitable mentor, in order to help them learn more about their profession and how to operate in senior roles. Mentors may be viewed as a valuable resource by the employee, since they can seek impartial advice and guidance from someone with relevant career and life experience.

If employees see that your organisation has a policy of promoting from within - moving talented people up into senior roles - they may be more inclined to work towards goal. There are always a variety of career growth opportunities elsewhere for the most talented staff, and no shortage of suitors for your best people. You need to persuade them - through actions, rather than words - that they stand to gain the most from remaining where they are.