It usually matters to employees whether they’ve been working a series of unrelated jobs or whether they’re advancing along a promising career path, but should this difference matter to employers? Absolutely.
Employees working what they see as a job, as opposed to a career, often have lower satisfaction and less commitment to their work. Their motivation tends not to extend much beyond their paycheck, and because they can get a paycheck doing whatever for whomever, they tend not to be committed to their work, to their employer, or to their advancement within the company. Consequently, they don’t usually go above and beyond. They can be good employees, but they’re seldom great ones.
On the flip side, employees who see themselves on a career path typically have the desire to get ahead and the drive to keep moving. They seek advancement within the company—or the skills, training, and experience to take into the next stage of their career. They’ll go the extra mile because the extra effort is in their professional interest.
What do these differences mean for you as the employer?
You can help employees who feel they’re stuck working a “job” to think about their careers. Talk to them individually about where they see themselves in five years and what they want for themselves now and in the future. Point out to them how the tasks they’re doing and the skills they’re using can benefit them both within your company and down the line in future employment. If these employees can begin to consider their careers, they’ll be more inclined to improve their performance and improve themselves. They’ll sprint instead of saunter. And you’ll see more success.
And by thinking about your employees’ careers, you’ll be better prepared to find and keep top talent. You’ll know what skills and experiences prospective hires want to acquire and therefore what skills and experiences you need to offer to entice them. If you offer opportunities for advancement, they’ll have good reason to stay, but even if they take what they’ve learned to a new place, you’ll still have benefited from their work more than you would have if they had not been so driven to success.