Competitive benefits and a supportive culture are important for a good workplace. But don’t lose sight of the fundamentals: a strong career offering is critical to attract job seekers, retain employees, and engage talent.
A good career path can be the difference between employees who stay or leave. In a Quantum Workplace study, employees listed career opportunities as one of their highest drivers of engagement. Exiting employees also listed lack of career opportunities as the second highest reason for leaving.
The Barometer team analyzed the Q4 2019 Glassdoor reviews of the top 10 Best Place To Work and found that the best companies offer career development that emphasize learning, offer interesting and impactful work, and have clear promotion opportunities.
We also discovered that employees negatively reviewed those same companies for their heavy workloads. This suggests that when evaluating their career, employees prioritize their career prospects and skills development over their amount of work day-to-day.
Model your Career Offering off the Best Places to Work
Analyzing the Best Places to Work revealed that learning opportunities, the day-to-day job, and upward mobility were among the most frequently praised career topics. Here’s what you can do to improve careers at your company:
Create learning opportunities
Employees lauded their learning opportunities the most. 9 out of the 10 top companies received favorable or balanced commentary about providing employees with industry knowledge and abilities to up-skill. Bain & Co. (#2) reviewers frequently referred to the firm’s “heavy promotion of learning and self-development”.
Some companies even offered dedicated educational programs. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (#6) employees appreciated their ability to attend “educational presentations on almost any topic”. HubSpot (#1) reviewers similarly commended their company’s “support and encouragement to continue personal and professional development, including free books and education reimbursement.”
Find ways to keep the job interesting and impactful
An interesting job was the second-most important factor. 8 out of the 10 companies had favorable or balanced commentary about their day-to-day job.
Some employees characterized a good job by its complexities. Bain and Intuitive Surgical (#7) employees regularly highlighted the “interesting challenges” they faced each day.
Other employees pointed to the effect their job had. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory employees underscored the “high impact assignments” they received and “important research” they undertook.
Develop clear paths for rapid advancement
Growth opportunities were also crucial. 9 out of the 10 companies had favorable or balanced commentary about their promotion process.
Some company reviews emphasized the numerous chances for employees to advance. DocuSign (#3) and Sammons Financial (#5) employees noted the “heaps of opportunities to promote/grow your career” and the ability to achieve “rapid fast growth”.
Other reviewers appreciated a clear process for advancement. At Bain and HubSpot, this included a “well-developed system for career development” utilizing “performance-based metrics to eliminate uncertainty”.
If your Career Offering is Strong, Don’t Fret the Workload
Interestingly, the same companies garnering favorable posts about their learning opportunities, job content, and mobility prospects also received unfavorable comments about their workload. Nearly all posts about Bain, Docusign, and Intuitive Surgical stressed the “long hours” and “difficult schedule”.
Yet it’s unclear whether the intense workload mattered to these reviewers – especially given the positive attributes of their company’s career offering. On average, reviewers negatively discussing their workload still gave their company a 4.0 overall rating. 64% of them also recommended working at their company.
All this suggests that employees tend to prioritize the long-term payoffs of learning new skills and achieving career growth over the long hours they put in each day. As one Bain employee explained, “This is best place to develop as a business leader, hands down…the trade-off between rapid learning and growth is typically long hours.”
The bottom line: to improve your company’s career opportunities, keep your employees engaged and help them recognize the impact of their work. Sponsor educational events and consistently provide ways for them to up-skill. Offer clear advancement opportunities and be transparent about the means employees can achieve promotions.
If your company’s career offering is interesting and challenging, encourages learning, as well as offers clear advancement opportunities, don’t sweat too much over workload concerns. Your employees will view putting in slightly longer-than-normal hours as a fair compromise.