Onboarding 4 min

Onboarding: The Power of Career-Development Programs

August 6, 2015

In part one of our three-part series on strategic onboarding, we discussed how the questions you ask during pre-boarding can be used to make powerful personal connections during onboarding. This time around, let’s focus on how asking the right career-development questions during onboarding helps you better understand your new hires’ career growth aspirations so you can dial in your development programs and deliver tremendous results.

Why is understanding your new hires career growth aspirations important? For starters, most people truly want to learn, grow and improve themselves each and every day. If you can provide opportunities at work that help employees improve, you play a key part in his or her success, satisfaction and happiness. Think of the loyalty and bond you create with that person, and how fulfilling that experience is for everyone! And while helping someone improve sounds great, the reality is career development and growth opportunities are a necessity for attracting, retaining and engaging our evolving workforce.

The evolving workforce—yes, I’m talking about millennials. You know the stats—millennials will make up 50 percent of the workforce by 2020, 75 percent by 2025. And I think this goes without saying: they’re different. Millennials want much more than a job. Among things like making an impact, making meaningful and personal connection at work, and being recognized for their work, millennials expect career progression and development opportunities.

If it’s been awhile since you’ve seen the stats, here’s a quick refresher:

· “Opportunities for career progression” and “excellent training and development programs” were #1 and #3 respectively when millennials were asked what makes an attractive employer.

· Seventy-two percent of Millennials say they value opportunities for career advancement, compared with 52 percent for boomers and 64 percent for Gen-Xers.

· Millennials are 11 percent more likely than their older peers to list “future career opportunity” as their top value, as well as “development opportunity” (6 percent gap) and “growth rate” (5 percent gap).

· One of the ways millennials want their employers to invest in them is through career development. When asked to pick between two similar jobs, nearly 60 percent would pick the job with strong potential over one with regular pay raises. Moreover, 58 percent of millennials expect employers to provide them with learning opportunities relevant to their jobs.

· Professional growth and career development is the number one driver of successful engagement and retention among Millennial (1980-2001) employees.

So what should we be asking our employees and new hires? There is no definitive “right” or “wrong” question to ask but it’s of the utmost importance you actually do something with the answers you receive. As I covered in part one of this series, as part of the BambooHR new hire packet, we send each new hire a number of questions during pre-boarding. The answers to these questions help get new hires assimilated, get them productive as quickly as possible, understand how they like to be recognized and rewarded for good work, and to help management begin tailoring career development opportunities to them. Once answers are received, they’re entered into the employee’s notes so they can be referenced at any time by an employee’s manager or HR team. Some example questions include:

· What are you most hopeful to learn here?

· What types of projects have made you the most proud?

· What activities or expected job activities interest you the most?

· Which types of activities motivate you?

· Do you have any short-term and/or long-term career goals? What are they?

· Is there an industry or vertical you’re particularly interested in or that you’d like to learn more about?

· What types of responsibilities and challenges would advance your development?

· Are there any trainings, certifications or professional development opportunities you’d like to take advantage of?

Like I said, there are no “right” or “wrong” questions to ask provided they help you and your managers tailor career-development programs for your employees. So how does a robust and thought-out career-development program impact an organization in terms of strategic HR outcomes?

Competitive advantage
Fewer than half of employers (48 percent) report that their organizations have career architectures and levels in place.

Employer brand
Fifty-two percent of millennials say opportunities for career progression is the most desirable quality in a workplace, competitive wages and financial incentives (44 percent), good training and development programs (35 percent).

Engagement & retention
Professional growth and career development is the number one driver of successful engagement and retention among Millennial (1980-2001) employees.

Companies with strong career-development programs generally attract more talented employees. This benefits the organization and workers because it elevates the general level of knowledge and competence. Working with other capable professionals inside the company is motivating for employees. When each person understands her role and the responsibilities of her department to the organization, a mutually supportive, synergistic environment emerges. A culture of knowledge also challenges each employee to learn and grow.

Performance & productivity
Seventy-six percent of employees want career-growth opportunities, and it is one of the top 3 non-financial motivators.

Forty-seven percent of surveyed employees report career-advancement opportunity within their organization as “very” important to their job satisfaction.

Does career development at your company start during pre-boarding? How do you tailor programs to your employees? I’d love to hear from you!

Next time, in part three of this series, we’ll cover another important aspect of strategic onboarding: reward and recognition.

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Daniel Dean
Sr. Product Marketing Manager