Most Employees Hate Their Career Path. Here's How to Help. Only 37 percent of employees in one survey were "very happy" with their career path. Employers should be worried.

By Heather R. Huhman

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

A May University of Phoenix survey of 1,019 American workers found that only 37 percent of employees are very happy with their career path. This should scare employers.

Lack of career satisfaction can dramatically impact employees' engagement, productivity, and motivation in their current role. They see no future for themselves -- finding little purpose in the present and making it highly likely that they'll look for opportunities elsewhere.

Related: Employee Retention : Why it Remains a Daunting Task at Startups

If employers want their top talent to stick around, they need to find ways to get these employees the skills they need to get on to the right career track. Wondering how to do that at your own company? To inspire some ideas, I can offer three real examples:

The Navy Federal Credit Union

Credit union for military members and veterans
Headquarters: Vienna, Va.

"Career-planning is an essential part of employees' growth and development. Helping employees reach for their goals is impactful to career satisfaction, engagement, retention and productivity," Thomas Greek, told me in an email -- he's vice president of learning, development and communications.

Related: Expert Tips For Efficient Employee Retention Strategy

Recognizing the importance of meeting these employee needs, the Navy Federal Credit Union has offered a wide variety of career-development tools since 2005. Employees can participate in job-shadowing, get assistance creating an individual development plan and access several online career tools and resources.

"We continue to add new resources and explore new ways to support our employees' career development," Greek pointed out. "As a result, our engagement scores for career development are more than 20 percent higher than the industry benchmark."

Takeaway: Even on a small budget, companies can offer employees a wide variety of career development opportunities.

Programs that provide job shadowing or career planning can be organized with minimal resources but create big ROI. The key is to discover what employees want to work on and then determine who or what in the company can help them achieve that goal.

Get creative. Just keep track of what career development initiatives are working and which aren't.


Online project-management software
Headquarters: Lehi, Utah

"People shape the future of a company as much, or more, than the company shapes the future of the employee," Laura Butler, senior vice president of people and culture for Workfront, said via email. "By working with team members to understand their aspirations and helping them realize their potential, the company will better realize its potential."

To help employees down their career paths, WorkFront has made development an everyday focus.

The company created a Slack channel where employees can share career advice or ask questions. Employees can choose between clear career tracks so they know exactly what they need to do to reach the next level. And leadership training was designed around learning how to communicate with employees so managers can assist with personal goal setting.

Internal mobility is also incredibly important at WorkFront. Butler went on to say that the company posts jobs internally and publishes metrics on internal promotions so talent can reach their career goals without leaving the company.

Takeaway: Make sure there are opportunities at the company for employees to move up. Keep people up-to-date on open positions within the organization. This can be done by posting them in the office, in an internal newsletter or on the company intranet. It's also important to announce these opportunities to current employee before advertising them externally.

Knowing what types of roles employees desire will motivate them to develop their careers in-house. They'll see a real position that will fulfill their professional needs and keep them at the same company.

Manpower Group

Workforce solutions company
North American headquarters: Milwaukee, Wis.

"In today's skills revolution, rapid technological disruption means new skills emerge as fast as others become obsolete," Michael Stull, senior vice president of North America, said in an email. "Helping people up-skill to remain employable, get ahead and develop successful careers has never been more important."

Aside from offering career development services to other companies, ManpowerGroup also offers its employees full tuition coverage through the University of Phoenix. That way, if people want to go back to school to improve their skill set, they will experience no financial hurdles to doing so.

Related: 3 Ways Corporate Heavyweights Are Improving Employee Retention by Prioritizing Maternity Healthcare

"Careers today are ultra-marathons. Young people will have more jobs in their twenties than their parents may have had in a lifetime," said Stull. "They are looking to us to help them change roles, shift gears and learn new skills at different stages of their working life."

Takeaway: If need be, use outside resources to educate and train employees. This is especially important if employees want to make a big career change.

Help them go back to or finish school with tuition assistance. It might seem like a big cost, but consider the skills the individual will contribute to the team once their education is complete.

Also, remember that employees who are juggling school and work will need flexibility. Offer them different scheduling options so they won't become overwhelmed.

Heather R. Huhman

Career and Workplace Expert; Founder and President, Come Recommended

Waldorf, Md.-based Heather R. Huhman is a career expert, experienced hiring manager and president of Come Recommended, the PR solution for job search and HR tech companies. She writes about issues impacting the modern workplace.

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