Finding staff, retaining staff: What used to be an everyday routine is now a supreme discipline in management and HR departments. More than ever, staff retention is an important key to corporate success. And in the highly competitive labour market, it is a real challenge, especially for small and medium-sized enterprises. Attractive and transparent development paths play a key role in employee retention.

From the employee’s point of view

It is well known that management has a wide range of monetary and motivational offers to retain employees: Good pay, attractive fringe benefits, flexible working models … A particularly convincing argument for employees to come to the company and stay are the career and development opportunities. Personal development and individual career prospects are on a par with a good salary for many employees. After all, an employee will only stay with the company if he or she sees him or herself there in the future. Consequently, according to the trend study “Employee Retention 2030”, which was conducted by F.A.Z. Business Media 2022 on behalf of Cornerstone, a lack of career opportunities is the most common reason for quitting, along with insufficient pay.

From the company’s perspective

From the company’s perspective, the development and expansion of competencies is elementary for economic growth and competitiveness. It is therefore worthwhile for small and medium-sized enterprises to pay special attention to internal development options and innovative learning concepts. Standardised development paths are not only relevant for retention. They are also essential in the context of succession planning for the development of employees towards relevant roles. If career paths are linked to strategic competence management, internal knowledge can be optimally transferred and managed to future relevant jobs and positions in the company. At the same time, by developing and qualifying staff internally, a company creates another opportunity for itself, in addition to the difficult path of hiring new staff.

Development paths: Thinking in terms of skills

Being able to develop one’s own competencies in a planned way and with clear objectives is an important criterion for choosing – and staying with – a company. Re-skilling and upskilling, i.e. the opportunity to develop through further qualification and retraining, are gaining in importance. It is therefore an essential pillar of HR that the company designs the possible development paths with its finger on the pulse. The opportunities and career paths should be presented transparently and communicated clearly. In this way, each individual employee in the company is made aware of how he or she can develop in the company and what further training options are available to him or her. Continuous development opportunities not only bind employees to the company in the long term. They also offer a feeling of security, transparency and fairness when it is communicated that everyone in the team has the same opportunities for advancement. Ideally, career options are linked to modern remuneration models. Fair, equal and transparent remuneration that is variably linked to targets, for example, creates additional incentives to develop and remain loyal to the company.

Take a strategic and agile approach to individual development.

The employee – no matter what type – wants to know what opportunities he or she has to develop in the company. A clear skills profile should clearly state which skills and competences need to be built up for the respective goals and what the company offers for the employee’s further training and development. What possible learning content is available for this? Or in what way is it possible to acquire the competences? Traditional career paths do not leave much room for manoeuvre here.  They run strictly straight ahead and are hierarchical. Modern career and development paths, on the other hand, are more democratic, more equal and more flexible. They do not draw the individual path of the employee as a straight line, but outline it more organically and variably. Sustainable development paths are no longer just about hierarchical career stages leading to management positions. A classic example would be the promotion from apprentice to plant manager. It is also about professional development to a senior expert without a management position. Future-oriented development paths have become much more permeable and flexible in dealing with lateral entrants, retraining or parental leave. For successful implementation, internal development models are needed which, on the one hand, pursue clear professional and management objectives with an individual learning strategy, but at the same time leave enough room for flexible and individual adjustments. This is very much in line with the demands of the Y and Z generation for a balanced work-life organisation.

THE MAK`ED TEAM implements a strong framework for attractive career paths and customised roles with agile competence management. Regular checks and feedbacks are an important instrument for the goal-oriented implementation of the development models: Where does the employee stand on his or her personal roadmap? What has worked well – what less so? Which compulsory stations and required qualifications does he already have in his portfolio? The development paths are regularly compared in order to acquire competences needed for individual career planning and to close competence gaps. A constant individual adjustment of the further education options is important in order to reach the personally set milestones. THE MAK`ED TEAM supports companies with experienced HR experts in the successful development, implementation and communication of dynamic HR structures. Agile development models not only focus on the employees, but also on the entire company.