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

a hand holding up a sign: Not just money: Here’s what employment exchanges and career centres in India need

© Swathi Moorthy
Not just money: Here’s what employment exchanges and career centres in India need

In July 2019, Satish Nalawade had enrolled with a Maharashtra-based employment exchange that has now become a model career centre (MCC). While he enrolled with the hope of securing a job matching his computer science skills, he has not found a single opportunity.

“We were told that the MCC would not only help us connect with companies hiring but would also equip us to gain relevant skills for the job role. However, except one job fair that was held in December 2019 there has been no development on the employment front,” he added.

Twenty-two-year-old Nalawade, who had completed a technical computing course from Pune in 2018, also said that the job fairs attracted merely 10 companies and the lockdown has only made things worse.

The central government has released Rs 42.56 crore as aid to States to set up model career centres across the country. However, with the absence of proper handholding for conversion of employment exchanges into model career centres, job opportunities are hard to come by.

Close to 10 million people are eligible to enter the workforce every year. Owing to the Covid-19 lockdown, close to 20 million people have lost their employment and are seeking alternative job opportunities.

Remodelling of the employment exchanges and MCCs to make them more IT ready and interlinking them with vacancies across the country could present a ray of hope for Nalawade and millions of other job seekers.

 What is MCC?

MCC is a part of the National Career Service, a five-year mission mode project launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in July 2015. The project is part of the Ministry of Labour & Employment.

Here, the National Career Service (NCS) is intended to be a