Employee Retention Strategy book

Creating an Employee Retention Strategy for Staff Looking for a Career Change

Employee retention is just one post-pandemic challenge employers are experiencing. To make matters tougher, more workers have been reevaluating their career choices and professional goals in the wake of COVID-19. Especially in industries like culinary, hospitality, and healthcare, a growing number of employees are seeking to completely revamp their careers, not just job-hop or switch companies.

Last year, 61.8% of workers surveyed for our 2020 Talent Retention Report were considering making major career changes. Our 2021 Talent Retention Report showed that many of those respondents were true to their word – 21.1% of workers did make significant career changes since September 2020.

For employers, this trend means tailoring your employee retention strategy to keep employees looking for a career change. It needs to be different from your typical employee retention strategy, since you’ll need to think about factors outside the traditional retention incentives, like pay and benefits.

Here are five strategies to help you retain employees looking for a career change and reap the benefits of employee retention.


Boss and employee interviewing


1. Take Your Employees' Pulse

Start adjusting your retention strategy by figuring out if your employees are contemplating career changes. Since they may not feel comfortable speaking up about their plans, use an anonymous survey to gauge how associates are feeling about their jobs and morale in general. If they are indeed thinking about changing careers, ask questions in the survey to pinpoint for the reasons behind it.

Another tactic for obtaining staff feedback is holding “stay” interviews. Stay interviews are structured conversations with employees designed to find out why they choose to remain with your company and what you can do to improve their job satisfaction.


2. Communicate Openly

A key part of your employee retention strategy should be informing staff that you are open to conversations about possible career shifts. Let employees know that together, you’re committed to figuring out a plan to advance their careers and meet their goals within the organization. You won’t be able to address your career changers’ concerns if you don’t communicate your willingness to work with them from the get-go.

Keeping your door open and maintaining open lines of communication also builds trust and strengthens employee-manager relationships – additional ways to prevent costly turnover.


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3. Offer Growth and Leadership Opportunities

A lack of career advancement opportunities leads to dissatisfied employees – 48.2% of workers surveyed for our Talent Retention Report said they’d stay at a job if they had access to growth and advancement opportunities.

Retain career changers by offering more educational benefits, such as tuition reimbursement so that employees can gain new skills or certifications. You could also provide personalized coaching sessions, online courses, and on-the-job training to build in-demand skills.

Similarly, show employees that you recognize their leadership abilities by recruiting them for open roles inside your company (in other words, hiring from within). However, make sure your people know they won’t jeopardize their current positions by applying.

If employees don’t qualify for an advanced position or a promotion right now, advise managers to map out a path forward for their team members. That way, they know what they need to do to get to the next level.


4. Pivot Career Changers to Other Departments

For employees looking for a career change, decide if you can offer them roles in a different department or line of work. This may easily satisfy their desire to switch careers without compromising your talent retention rate. For example, a sales representative might have a knack for and interest in becoming a software developer. Or, someone who works on a manufacturing plant floor may want to move into a customer service role.

In such cases, consider whether you can move the career changer laterally. You may need to upskill them on the job, but that can be a faster, more cost-effective way to fill a role than recruiting from square one.


Man happy at computer


5. Enable a Better Work/Life Balance

Workplace flexibility is a major factor in employee retention. In fact, 62.8% of workers surveyed for our Talent Retention Report said they would leave a job due to a poor work/life balance. This is especially true for career changers who may simply want the ability to work from home – and that’s something their current line of work cannot easily provide.  

If remote or hybrid work jives with your industry and workplace, extend those options (if you haven’t already) to your employees. You might also offer flex time, additional PTO, schedule-sharing, and other flexible work arrangements to increase job satisfaction and improve retention rates across your business.


These tips will help you retain employees who are contemplating changing careers, but remember that workers will ultimately make a decision based on what’s best for them. The best you can do is be supportive and equip your departing staff with the tools they need to succeed when they take that leap of faith and start on a completely new career path.

For more advice on preventing turnover to experience the benefits of employee retention, visit our Resource Center.

By iHire | November 17, 2021