Employee engagement and morale have taken a beating in the pandemic. As companies scramble to adapt to new remote workplace realities, leaders are stepping up their efforts to provide mentorship and career development opportunities, and for good reason.

According to a new study from online scheduling platform Doodle, 49 percent of employees don’t feel like they’re getting enough training, coaching, or mentoring to advance their careers. On top of that, 50 percent of employees said their careers have stalled or even regressed.

Now with the pandemic–and all the uncertainty and stress that it’s brought with it–feelings of self-doubt have grown stronger and become louder in employees’ minds.

For some employees, being recognized for doing a job well or for taking on leadership qualities (regardless of their title) can do wonders for their 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.

That said, organizations need to bring mentorship and career development to the forefront of their corporate strategy, mission, values, and culture.

Career development is not a one-way street

The Doodle study highlights a huge disparity between what employees need to grow professionally and what their employers are providing. On the one hand, 32 percent of employees want clear direction on their roles and responsibilities and 15 percent want guidance and support for their career-development goals. If you think about these stats, that’s 47 percent who want their bosses to play an active role in their career growth.

Employees understand that career growth is not a one-way street. To meet career goals, managers must build rapport with their people. That includes being able to have honest one-on-one conversations about what a career path looks like for your employee at the company. These conversations can only happen when a meaningful relationship with your employee is in place. The key ingredient: trust.

On the other hand, managers are becoming less accessible and aren’t spending enough one-to-one time with their direct reports to understand and support their professional-development goals.

According to the Doodle study, 66 percent of employees said their bosses have not scheduled more one-on-one meetings with them since the pandemic and lockdowns went into effect.

As if that statistic isn’t troubling enough on its own, 20 percent of employees said their bosses never schedule regular one-on-one time over video with them.

This means that those who are feeling confused, stressed, and unsure about their job stability (and long-term growth) don’t have a viable, psychologically safe outlet to discuss their needs and gauge expectations that will help them reach their professional-development goals. This could stall or even regress their career growth.

When the world is stuck in an indefinite remote working situation, it’s important to prevent potential problems such as underperformance, stress, and burnout. Something as simple as providing clear directions on the expectations for team roles and the responsibilities can help build better relationships between managers and employees.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.

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