This is the big opportunity employers are missing out on during COVID

A new study found that employees are craving more career development.
By: | September 18, 2020 • 3 min read
(Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

During normal times, active mentorship can prove critical in helping employees achieve professional goals and career advancement. Beyond that, mentoring benefits can help keep turnover rates lower.

While that scenario is true during the best of circumstances, it’s especially important during times of crisis, according to Renato Profico, CEO at Doodle, a Zurich-based enterprise scheduling technology provider. Yet, according to a new Doodle study, career development and mentorship opportunities have been sorely lacking during the COVID-19 pandemic.

See also: Why COVID-19 has made mentoring for women a must

The report, “Career Development in a Pandemic,”  found that employee expectations for career development are strikingly different from what their employers offer during the pandemic. On one hand, 50% of employees say mentorship from their manager has become more important to them during the pandemic. However, employers are falling short of meeting those expectations, with 49% of employees saying they aren’t getting enough training, coaching and mentoring to advance their careers in these uncertain times.

“Constant recognition and growth can help self-doubting employees regain [employee] confidence.” Renato Profico, Doodle CEO

Doodle surveyed more than 1,000 full-time and part-time employees in the U.S. across a diverse set of industries. Key findings and trends include:

  • Is COVID-19 derailing career plans? Forty-one percent said their career development has stalled during the pandemic, and 9% said the crisis has actually caused their careers to regress.
  • Email is a crutch for career growth. Despite the increased use of Zoom, Slack and Microsoft Teams in workplaces, email still reigns supreme (42%) as the primary method of communication between employees and their bosses. Phone (26%) is second, with employee communication tools and video conferencing tools less popular, at 21% and 10%, respectively.
  • Employees value the boss’ role in individual growth. When it comes to employees’ one-to-one meetings with managers, 32% like when their boss provides clear direction on their role and responsibilities, and 15% appreciate a manager’s guidance and support of their career development goals. This means nearly half would like their manager to play a more active role in their growth.
  • Capturing the boss’ attention is tricky business. Only 18% of the respondents said their manager schedules weekly one-to-one meetings over video with them. Twice-weekly one-to-one meetings are even less common (14%).
  • Limited calendar visibility keeps managers walled off and inaccessible. Almost half (47%) of the respondents said they don’t have access to their manager’s calendar in case they need to schedule a quick “touch base” with them.

According to Profico, a major takeaway from the report is that employees trust the team they work with much more than the HR teams and senior leaders they occasionally see. For example, he cites that 34% of employees feeling comfortable speaking to their direct supervisor about their career development goals, and 28% are comfortable sharing their goals with colleagues. Yet, employee comfort level with discussing their career goals is much lower with HR (13%) and senior management (13%).

Related: 3 ways you can inspire trust and boost empathy

“Organizations should take note of these findings,” Profico says. “If HR teams and senior management don’t show their employees that career development is a top priority, during and after the pandemic, it’s highly likely that their employees will lose their motivation to do great work and become disengaged from the organization.” He adds that they also may be inclined to leave to work for another company that values and supports their career development plans.

“When people are at their lowest, positive reinforcement can do wonders to help them get out of that funk,” Profico explains, adding that, for some employees, being recognized for doing a job well done or for taking on leadership qualities (regardless of their title) can do wonders for employee confidence and self-esteem.

“So, constant recognition and growth can help self-doubting employees regain their confidence, take more ownership and actualize their career goals, and it’s crucial for HR as well as management to realize this,” Profico says.

For the full report, click HERE.

Tom Starner is a freelance writer based in Philadelphia who has been covering the human resource space and all of its component processes for over two decades. He can be reached at hreletters@lrp.com.