Experts say strong career development is the key to employee engagement

Author: Criselda Diala-McBride | Date: 26 Oct 2016

Employees who have a way to advance their position are more likely to perform better, says Aon Hewitt’s Elias Dib

Average employee engagement levels have been rising year on year, but the lack of clear career progression programmes continues to cast a shadow over the employer-employee relationship.
That’s the assessment of Elias Dib, partner and study director at Aon Hewitt Middle East. “In 2015, regional employee engagement reached 65 per cent, outperforming the average over the last three years. For the best employers, the level is even higher at 85 per cent, which is at par with the global average,” he said.
However, Dib added that many organisations still face the challenge of implementing and communicating their career development objectives, which is seen as especially important to attracting millennials.
“Organisations [must not only] provide clarity in terms of career progression, but also on what skills employees have to develop to advance in their roles,” he said. “This is very important to millennials – they need to understand what’s next for them.”
In its 2016 Best Employers Insights, Aon Hewitt underscored how organisations of choice are differentiating themselves by addressing this and other issues, such as creating a compelling employer brand, establishing a high-performance culture and developing effective leadership.
According to the survey, 80 per cent of millennial employees in these organisations are confident of their future career opportunities within their respective organisations, against a 56 per cent market average. Around 70 per cent of best employers also use structured succession planning to support career development of their employees – much higher than the market average of 40 per cent.
Coaching and mentoring programmes are also available in 86 per cent of best employers, providing career advice and support to employees.
And in three-quarters (74 per cent) of outstanding employers, promotion-linked goals are integrated into performance management initiatives that help to strengthen their focus on career development.
“We're seeing a lot of organisations [build their business and talent strategy by] introducing people practices such as developing a good company culture; treating their employees with respect; looking after their general wellbeing; and paying them fairly compared with [industry reward] standard,” said Dib.
Dib pointed out that HR teams can help organisations raise employee engagement by developing managers and promoting effective leadership through training.
“Management development programmes are driven by HR professionals, [who are expected] to equip managers and leaders [with the right skills] to lead the organisation forward,” he said. “Another area where human resources can play an important role in helping organisations is by looking at specific demographics and assessing what motivates engagement in these segments.”