Retain Career Changers: 6 Strategies That Work

Written by Nicola Wylie
Last updated May 29, 2022

In a recent Slack survey, it was revealed that almost a third of UK workers are considering moving to a new job in 2022. In fact, many don’t just want a new job. They’re considering a new career path. With the Great Resignation era upon us, more employees than ever are looking to switch careers. So, where does this leave employers? Is it possible for employers to retain career changers?

The simple answer is yes. There are plenty of actions employers can take to keep employees and boost employee engagement. And, with 85% of employees claiming they aren’t satisfied with their employer’s support of their careers, it’s time for employers to take action.

In this article, we look at the reasons why so many employees are thinking about changing careers and how employers can retain top talent.

Why There are More Career Changers Than Ever

Let’s start by looking at the why. What has prompted this sudden surge in employees looking to change careers? 

While there are several factors at play, the global pandemic is a big influencer. The pandemic sparked a shift in mindset. Not only are people more focused on their physical and mental wellbeing, but they are rethinking core beliefs. One of those is the definition of success.

After lockdowns, restrictions, and making the switch to working from home, workers want different things. For many, a successful career now means a career with opportunities for growth, greater flexibility, better work-life balance, and life-long learning. Of course, compensation is still a major driver, we all have bills to pay, but workers are seeking more than just a high wage. 

Statistics show that over a third of workers in the UK are unhappy in their jobs. With mental health at an all-time low, many employees are considering switching to a career that will fulfil them. 

If employees seriously want to retain employees looking for a career change, they need to address this mindset shift. It’s time for a reset. Employers will need to take steps to meet career changers in the middle. The first step is for employers to get to know what their employees want. For instance, workers now expect remote working options to be available to them. For others, access to the latest tech is a deal-breaker. 

Employees Can Consider a Career Change At Any Age

It’s a common misconception that the majority of career changers are younger employees. That’s simply not the case. Millennials aren’t the only ones considering a career change. There are plenty of experienced employees looking for second careers. Companies not only need to retain younger employees, but they also need to facilitate the transition of experienced employees to a second career. Here’s how.

Why You Should Retain Career Changers: The Benefits

Retaining talent is the key to business success. When talented employees leave the company to pursue other opportunities, their talents and knowledge go with them. And we’re not just talking about their technical skills. 

Employees gain valuable soft skills such as communication, problem-solving, and collaboration skills during their careers. These transferable skills are almost impossible to train. So, this makes employees who possess these skills a valuable asset to the company. If these employees want to switch careers, supporting this transition allows your business to retain these valuable soft skills in the organisation. Even if the employee has to develop the hard skills necessary for a new role. 

6 Tips To Retain Career Changers

Now we know why employees consider a carer change and what the benefits of retaining employees are, let’s look at the how.

We’ve come up with 6 failproof tips on how to retain employees looking for a career change.

1. Upskill Employees

As we have already seen in this article, training and development opportunities really matter to employees. Many career changers cite a lack of growth opportunities as a major driver behind their decision to move on from a company or industry. Therefore, if your company wants to retain talented employees, it needs to create more learning opportunities.

Growth opportunities empower employees. As well as boosting their confidence, upskilling gives employees a sense of fulfilment and demonstrates that the company thinks they are worth investing in. The good news is that upskilling employees is good for the bottom line too. Upskilled employees are more productive, innovative, and adaptable, leading to better business results.

Your business can upskill employees in a number of ways such as through workshops, conferences, webinars, knowledge-sharing initiatives, and shadow programs. In summary, the more retraining opportunities you offer workers, the better.

2. Recognise the Importance of Meaningful Work

Gone are the days of “a job is just a job”. You spend around a third of your life at work. As a result, many employees crave the opportunity to do more meaningful or fulfilling work. So, how does this translate to a business setting? If your employees are expressing that they want a career change because they want their work to be more meaningful, there are some measures you can take.

Firstly, understand what ‘meaningful’ work means to employees. Is it switching to a completely different industry such as working for an NGO or charity? Or perhaps it’s the opportunity to dedicate some of their working hours to a good cause. 

In the first instance, you could consider transitioning the employee to a role within the company such as corporate social responsibility or diversity and inclusion. By doing so, the employee can enjoy a role that is more meaningful to them while the company retains a talented worker. For the latter, offering volunteering opportunities to employees could help to create a better sense of meaning. From organising fundraising initiatives to dedicating working hours to charity work, there are ways for employers to build a sense of fulfilment and meaning in the workplace. This, in turn, will help to retain career changers. 

3. Empower Employees Through Technology

While it’s true that some employees are worried that technology will replace their job roles, most employees want more access to technology. In fact, technology training can be a huge factor in retaining employees considering a career change. Here’s how. Technology training removes the fear that some staff members have around new technologies. By providing adequate training, employees can build their confidence and use technology to support their career development by developing technical skills. 

That’s not all. Ingraining technology into the business will allow employees to use technology to solve problems and innovate. This creates a better sense of purpose and fulfilment. Two key factors for retaining employees.

4. Have a Clear Company Policy for Career Changes

Research by the Chicago Tribune cited a lack of growth opportunities as the number one reason for leaving an organisation. This is where the need for a clear company policy comes in. As an employer, your goal is to keep employees by supporting their career changes. The best way to do this is by defining a clear career change policy that offers employees guidance and support. By doing so, you highlight that there are opportunities to grow in the organisation. This is big news for workers. The policy should be detailed and outline any training or cross-training opportunities available to workers.

A word of warning, though. Putting a policy in place is only half the battle. Your organisation will also need to promote the policy to ensure that all workers are aware of it. 

5. Push Employee Wellbeing

Many career changers feel unfulfilled and bored at work. This can take its toll emotionally. When workers become disengaged, the standard of their work drops and they participate less in the company. That’s why prioritising mental health initiatives can go a long way in retaining employees.

Happy employees are more productive, more engaged, and less likely to seek a career change. So naturally, investing in employee wellness has a huge payoff for companies. To push employee wellbeing, offer employees training and guidelines on topics such as work/life balance, mindfulness activities, and communication training. By defining some global best practices to improve overall wellbeing in the workplace, you will create a happier, more engaged workforce.

6. Run Regular Pulse Checks

Last but not least, check in with staff regularly. Staying on top of employee engagement can be tricky, especially in large organisations. However, it is crucial if you want to retain career changers. 

The best way to gauge employee engagement and satisfaction is by running regular pulse check surveys. These should be anonymous and give employees space to share their feedback, concerns, and wishes. As an employer, you can gain valuable insight into how employees are feeling and identify potential career changers early. 

Bear in mind that you won’t be able to keep every employee looking for a career change. Nor should you. But, you may be able to retain some valuable staff members by offering them a second career in the organisation. 

Final Thoughts

Retaining top talent is an ongoing challenge for organizations. As a result, employers need strategies to retain career changers when possible. Every year the job market in the United Kingdom changes and grows rapidly. We have a wealth of useful tips and resources for employers to help you navigate the ever-changing landscape. Be sure to also check out what employer services Refreshing a Career can provide your company, including advertising your roles on our unique career change jobs board.

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Last Updated: Saturday June 18 2022
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