According to recent statistics, more than half of employees are currently looking to change jobs, searching for a position they can see themselves occupying for the foreseeable future. As a result, now more than ever, employers are searching for ways to keep the effective employees they’ve hired over the years. Some are implementing every intervention they can think of to keep current employees loyal for another year, another month, or even another week. 

However, in our current state, employee retention and new recruiting are proving to be much more than a matter of increased wages. In fact, businesses are hanging signs advertising higher wages, signing bonuses and more, but don’t seem to be seeing the kind of results they are hoping for. Wages are certainly a crucial part of the puzzle, but one of the things that can be most powerful—and most valuable to an employee—is a sense of a long-term mission. Employees want a clearly defined place that their career is headed, backed by the knowledge that their labor isn’t going unnoticed (and unrewarded). This is something you can give your workers relatively inexpensively that can prove just as meaningful as a wage increase.

Building Transparency in the Workplace

Transparency regarding where your company—and, by extension, your employees—are going gives your workforce a solid idea regarding their own career trajectories. However, 43 percent of employees indicated feeling as if their careers have stalled, and 47 percent are looking for growth opportunities. Unfortunately, for many employees searching for something more, these growth opportunities may appear somewhere in an external job listing. However, opportunities for growth can be found internally if employers are able to take a moment of self-reflection and make these opportunities known.

The gap between what is available to an employee and what they think is available can only be bridged by communication. To know what the employee is looking for, what the next steps are, and what they need to feel comfortable, it is absolutely crucial for employers to listen with a keen ear and deep empathy. That initial seed of knowledge can be fed, giving you the eventual ability to ensure that each employee remains aware of internal opportunities that may fit what they are seeking.

Maintain Transparency with a Transparent Growth Plan

Once you know your employees’ needs and aims, you can take the first step towards fulfilling them with a transparent growth plan. HR teams can work with each individual to create a plan for their unique goals—which may not always align with the straightforward or traditional career advancement path you may have envisioned. However, by creating a clear, concise plan that is tailored to the individual, you can demonstrate how you plan to craft a path with a similar trajectory they can follow for years to come.

Keep in mind: it’s not enough to host the conversation once and put the plan—and the employee—back on the shelf. Instead, it’s necessary to revisit each growth plan regularly. Consistent updates give your employees a sense of exactly where they are on the path you have built together. Perhaps more importantly, it gives you both time to make changes and tune the plan in accordance with how your business and your employee have been progressing. 

Finally, no matter what their career trajectory or the path they’ve delineated, it is crucial to ensure that you celebrate your employees’ achievements along the way. Without consistent positive feedback, it is very hard for anyone to believe that their work is not only getting noticed but also being valued. Providing praise for good work can help close the communications gap, giving employees faith that they can trust in the plan and in their own opportunities for advancement. In the end, transparency and feedback are seeds for growth in the future.