46% of Employees Are Satisfied with Their Career Development

46% of Employees Are Satisfied with Their Career Development

Gartner: Only 46% of employees feel supported trying to grow their careers at their organization, according to a survey by Gartner, Inc.

A September 2023 Gartner survey of 3,500 employees revealed that when organizations close the gap on employee career growth expectations it can have up to a 45% positive impact on employees feeling supported in their career growth, compared to only a maximum impact of up to 8% when organizations simply try to meet employees’ expectations for growth.

“Most organizations are providing managers with resources to support employees and implementing processes to monitor the execution of career development activities in an effort to meet employees’ expectations for growth,” said Keyia Burton, Senior Principal, Advisory in the Gartner HR practice. “Yet, organizations fall short in meeting employees’ expectations due to a mismatch between what organizations can feasibly provide and what employees expect.”

Three environmental shifts are making it harder for employers to support employees’ career development:

  • Employee expectations are higher. Employees believe they should be growing faster than they are, and they are more likely to pursue jobs elsewhere when their expectations aren’t met. ​
  • The workforce is changing. Rapid changes in organizational structures make it difficult to design stable career progression.​
  • Skills needs have rapidly shifted. Technological advancements and an increase in digitalization have created a need for employees to gain skills that exist outside of their immediate job function.​

A September 2023 Gartner survey of 125 HR business partners (HRBPs) found that, compared to two years ago, 46% of HRBPs agree that employees at their organization are more likely to make demands about how fast they should grow.

Gartner identified three specific actions that companies can take to close the employee career growth expectations gap:

  1. Identify what employees value in and out of work.
  2. Help employees navigate all possible options for growth.
  3. Transparently communicate what is feasible for the organization to deliver and manage against potential consequences.

Incorporate Employees’ Personal and Professional Values

The September 2023 Gartner employee survey highlighted the gap in what employees expect versus what organizations can deliver: 55% of employees expected to be promoted within two years, but only 40% were promoted.

Typically, organizations try to deliver against employees’ expectations by asking them what they want. This method is often ineffective as the information gleaned about employees’ career interests is too broad and too general, making it difficult to use the insights learned to satisfy employees’ expectations.

Leading organizations are ensuring that employees’ personal values are part of their performance and career conversations in order to gain more precision around their career trajectories. Understanding what employees value at work, and what they value personally enables organizations to match individuals with meaningful work that they care about and meaningful growth opportunities.

“When employers truly understand what their employees value personally, they can increase their employees’ sense of purpose at work, which in turn, makes employees 4.1 times more likely to stay with the organization,” said Lisa Mitchell, Principal in the Gartner HR practice.

Enable Employees to Navigate Options for Growth

“Employees are struggling to prioritize career development opportunities, in part due to the large amount of scattered information they receive on a regular basis,” added Burton. “Between routine career conversations, information on available job opportunities, and regular performance feedback and development plans, employees can’t figure out the specific activities they should do to prepare for the future roles they want.”

Progressive organizations are prioritizing making career growth opportunities more clear and actionable. This includes collecting information in one place and filtering the information – skills and experiences that employees need for various roles – to enable employees to easily grasp the skills and experiences they need to acquire to move in their desired direction.

Clearly Communicate What the Organization Can Deliver

According to the September 2023 Gartner employee survey, less than one in three employees feel their organizations are transparent about how long it takes to grow their careers. Most organizations share less information than employees want about how to advance in their careers; without this information, employees assume the organization can deliver more than what’s feasible.

Employers must transparently communicate with employees to provide clarity on growth opportunities, while also taking action against potential consequences. Organizations can build employee trust by being clear on typical career trajectories, which also empowers employees to make informed choices. When employees trust their manager and the organization – and they have a clear understanding of their organization’s career progression – there is up to a 26% increase in them feeling supported.

Ultimately, when employees feel supported by their organization to grow their careers, their likelihood of being a high performer increases by up to 39 percentage points, their willingness to stay at the organization increases by up to 19 percentage points, and their engagement increases by up to 61 percentage points.

About the Gartner HR PracticeThe Gartner HR practice brings together the best relevant content approaches across Gartner to offer individual decision makers strategic business advice on the mission-critical priorities that cut across the HR function. Additional information is available at Follow news and updates from the Gartner HR practice on X and LinkedIn using #GartnerHR.


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