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Matt Bartels, principal and media practice lead, Alexander Group

The pandemic left an indelible mark on businesses around the world. This abrupt market force challenged leaders to reevaluate their business model, think creatively, work collaboratively and aggressively invest in their future or risk becoming obsolete.

Unexpectedly, the global workforce reevaluated their lives while re-envisioning their career paths. Employee choices created the most significant business disruption, as millions of workers took control of their future by changing jobs, leading to the Great Resignation.

The Great Resignation exposed inherent risks in traditional job architecture and deficiencies in legacy development, people and career programs. Leaders could have assuaged this mass labor disruption by addressing the early warning signs of pay inequity, unclear job roles and dead-end career paths before the pandemic. 

However, an opportunity lies in wait for those ready to invest in a comprehensive career mobility strategy that offers viable options for career growth, mitigating additional market risk that drains both human and financial resources.

Halting a vicious cycle

The gap left by unfilled roles resonates throughout organizations. According to Alexander Group’s internal research, companies find it challenging to fill open positions, with those reporting more than 5% of jobs remaining unfilled, expecting that percentage to jump to 53% in 2022 from 27% in 2021. Similarly, research indicates the average seller turnover increased between 2020 and 2021 — increasing from 12.5% to 20% for media companies and even going above 30% for some. 

For media sellers, once hired, ramp-up time takes about six months — translating to a $1.6 million to $4.3 million loss per organic quota-carrying seller across media organizations, according to internal Alexander Group research. This productivity loss results from a costly and time-consuming recruitment process for HR and sales managers.

Without the foundation of clear job roles, transparent pay scales and innovative career pathways, employers risk losing high performers and potential candidates and the new employees they have invested in but from whom they have yet to receive a return. Conversely, improving the employee experience almost always drives better customer experiences and company growth.

Existing labor challenges have increased costs, limited potential revenue, restrained corporate growth and frustrated customers. Because of this, media firms have rediscovered the critical role that employees play in an organization’s revenue and growth plans. Companies are redoubling efforts to stop the vicious cycle of labor gaps, low productivity and unclear advancement options to optimize the employee experience, exceed customer expectations, limit risk and meet and exceed growth goals.

Investing in transparency and the employee experience

Attracting and retaining top talent starts with a long-term, collaborative approach that provides career growth, flexibility and mobility in an environment that values the employee experience. 

Employee expectations that emerged during the pandemic, such as additional base pay, variable pay, pay equity, flexible work arrangements with hybrid and remote roles and flexible hours and programs that recognize and value employee contributions, are now table stakes for employers. 

Paying lip service is no longer an option. These programs require institutional change, consistent investment and collaboration across commercial silos. Leaders implementing these programs create talent pathways that allow employees to progress and thrive within their organizations.

Career mobility and advancement strategies provide thoughtful and logical progression options. Employees value employers that elevate their knowledge and skills and increase engagement.

Detailed job profiles define the required skills for each role, including foundational, core and functional competencies. Employers can have a more transparent framework by standardizing job profiles and clearly outlining tenure, performance, competency and training expectations for each level within a role. Then, they can assist employees in developing required skills and present a documented path for growth.

Career paths can delineate the potential for upward movement within a job or a lateral career shift across jobs. Creative options include growing as an individual contributor, moving to a management role or taking the opportunity to move from one functional area to another. For example, most account management roles have clear pathways into direct sales, such as an account executive. Still, trends within media firms include encouraging non-traditional pathways, such as shifting a creative role to sales. Establishing career paths visibly demonstrates an employee’s future course to reduce the risk of individuals searching for greener pastures.

Leading a revolution with equitable practices

Customers are king, but employees create the kingdom that sustains revenue. Corporate leaders have a moral obligation to serve both parties equitably.

Looking back, employees weren’t in revolt because of the pandemic. Their mass reevaluation stemmed from dissatisfaction with the status quo of unclear expectations, limited career mobility and selective advancement. Today’s workforce wants more than a paycheck — they want transparent and equitable practices centered around their development that prepare them for the next level. This outcome is a win-win for the people and the entire organization.

Leaders have a choice to lead a revolution that helps each employee chart their unique career path in a way that benefits the organization or follow a structure that no longer works. Thoughtful career pathways are a strategic advantage grounded in logical competency progression. Those who lead the way by designing the talent pathways of the future will unlock a strategic advantage, rewarded with best-in-class talent that helps them win in a competitive landscape.

Sponsored By: Alexander Group

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