08 Nov, 2012

Long-term career plan

Over a quarter of GB employees (26{6060b2de664e4eaa3e7b7e86961ce2c4bbd7a29b6c1097abf8257a4e5b07383e}) have no long-term career plan and 39{6060b2de664e4eaa3e7b7e86961ce2c4bbd7a29b6c1097abf8257a4e5b07383e} fail to plan ahead at all in terms of career goals, according to new research released today (Monday 5 November 2012) by career management experts Fairplace. The survey suggests that many employees are clocking in with a short-term, unenthusiastic ‘just get through the day’ mentality, which could create an economic time-bomb as Brits fail to engage proactively in their current job or to plan properly for their futures.

  • A quarter of GB workers (26{6060b2de664e4eaa3e7b7e86961ce2c4bbd7a29b6c1097abf8257a4e5b07383e}) have no long-term career plan
  • Only one in ten (11{6060b2de664e4eaa3e7b7e86961ce2c4bbd7a29b6c1097abf8257a4e5b07383e}) GB workers feel they have opportunities for long-term development with their current employer
  • Only 16{6060b2de664e4eaa3e7b7e86961ce2c4bbd7a29b6c1097abf8257a4e5b07383e} of GB workers feel their current job fits very well with their long-term career plan

The research, carried out by YouGov on behalf of Fairplace, revealed that only 16{6060b2de664e4eaa3e7b7e86961ce2c4bbd7a29b6c1097abf8257a4e5b07383e} of GB employees feel their current role fits very well with their long-term career plan. 39{6060b2de664e4eaa3e7b7e86961ce2c4bbd7a29b6c1097abf8257a4e5b07383e} do not plan ahead at all in terms of their career goals, whilst those who do plan head demonstrate widespread short-termism, looking, on average, less than three years into the future (2.87 years).

Almost a third of GB employees (31{6060b2de664e4eaa3e7b7e86961ce2c4bbd7a29b6c1097abf8257a4e5b07383e}) said they felt ‘settled’ in their jobs and don’t plan on moving in the near future, and 24{6060b2de664e4eaa3e7b7e86961ce2c4bbd7a29b6c1097abf8257a4e5b07383e} said they were ‘fairly content in their current job but always with one eye on the next move’. However 14{6060b2de664e4eaa3e7b7e86961ce2c4bbd7a29b6c1097abf8257a4e5b07383e} said they were unhappy in their current job but found the thought of moving is too daunting and only 11{6060b2de664e4eaa3e7b7e86961ce2c4bbd7a29b6c1097abf8257a4e5b07383e} believed they had long-term personal development opportunities within their current organisation.

Penny de Valk, CEO of Fairplace, said: “Our survey paints a picture of a workforce taking a passive attitude to their careers. People are staying in their current jobs not because they are genuinely satisfied, but because they have not set themselves targets for progression or because they are unsure of where their skills and qualifications could take them.  Not only damaging to an individual’s happiness, this swathe of directionless employees is likely to be hampering business productivity and organisations’ bottom lines.

“Many people spend more time planning their holiday than they do their career, and some employees are sleepwalking through their careers, missing out on finding a job that is a better fit with their personal life goals. British workers need to get better at taking control and planning ahead in terms of their personal career goals in order to improve their resilience and long-term prospects. It is important to find out what really motivates you and energises you, to think ahead and put a roadmap in place.”

Women and older workers appear to be particularly bad at setting personal career goals. Over half (56{6060b2de664e4eaa3e7b7e86961ce2c4bbd7a29b6c1097abf8257a4e5b07383e}) of  those aged 55 and over do not plan ahead at all in terms of their career goals, despite the fact that working later into life is increasingly becoming a necessity for many Brits.  Meanwhile, almost a third (32{6060b2de664e4eaa3e7b7e86961ce2c4bbd7a29b6c1097abf8257a4e5b07383e}) of women don’t have a long term career plan, compared to just a fifth (20{6060b2de664e4eaa3e7b7e86961ce2c4bbd7a29b6c1097abf8257a4e5b07383e}) of men.  As many senior businesswomen reject the idea of quotas for women on boards as unconstructive, these findings indicate that female employees need greater support in planning their careers if they are to reach their full potential.

“It’s possible that some workers are riding out the recession in their current jobs, but will be keeping half an eye out for other opportunities and will jump ship when the jobs market picks up,” continued de Valk.  “Organisations must do more to ensure their staff feel engaged and motivated. An important part of this is helping them to see how challenges and experiences in their job today can help them in their future career progression. Managers mustn’t be afraid of having ‘career conversations’ with their staff.”

Whilst respondents appeared to lack desire to plan for the long term, the majority (61{6060b2de664e4eaa3e7b7e86961ce2c4bbd7a29b6c1097abf8257a4e5b07383e})  need a fresh challenge in their current job to keep them motivated, with 38{6060b2de664e4eaa3e7b7e86961ce2c4bbd7a29b6c1097abf8257a4e5b07383e} keen to experience a new challenge  at least once a month. Meanwhile, around a third (34{6060b2de664e4eaa3e7b7e86961ce2c4bbd7a29b6c1097abf8257a4e5b07383e}) said that learning new skills was one of the three most important things in keeping them motivated and energised in their working career.

In straitened times, businesses will be pleased to learn that money isn’t the only incentive. The Fairplace research found a mixed picture of what motivates British workers, and having likeable colleagues was high up the list.  Asked to select three factors that keep them most motivated and energised in their working life:

  • 51{6060b2de664e4eaa3e7b7e86961ce2c4bbd7a29b6c1097abf8257a4e5b07383e} of British workers selected financial incentives
  • 47{6060b2de664e4eaa3e7b7e86961ce2c4bbd7a29b6c1097abf8257a4e5b07383e} said having colleagues they enjoyed working with
  •  Just over a third  (34{6060b2de664e4eaa3e7b7e86961ce2c4bbd7a29b6c1097abf8257a4e5b07383e}) ranked learning new skills as important
  • The same amount (34{6060b2de664e4eaa3e7b7e86961ce2c4bbd7a29b6c1097abf8257a4e5b07383e}) said flexible working was important
  • A quarter (25{6060b2de664e4eaa3e7b7e86961ce2c4bbd7a29b6c1097abf8257a4e5b07383e}) felt that a good quality manager was key

De Valk concluded: “This rich picture of different motivating factors demonstrates that trust, engagement and commitment are all two-way transactions. While a ‘job for life’ is an outmoded career concept, and people are more likely to build portfolio careers over a longer working life, companies need to get better at getting the most out of employees while they are at the organisation – finding out what motivates them and providing opportunities for them to develop in order to boost retention of top talent.”


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