Once upon a time in the world of recruitment, a good title, a decent payslip and a promise of progression was enough to attract and retain top talent. These days it’s not so simple, with employee benefits ranging from in-house yoga classes to food and drink on tap, employers are finding they must go that extra mile in order to stand out to job seekers and to keep existing employees happy and motivated

But do employees really want gym memberships and catered food, or is there subtext?

In my role as a career coach, I have worked with many job seekers who, unhappy in their roles, decided to seek out their next challenge.  When I ask what is missing in their current career, a theme comes up time and time again: meaning.

Millennials and Gen Z’s want to feel valued and appreciated in the workplace, making meaningful and worthwhile contributions as part of their roles. They crave connection to their role and the company, rating purpose, morals, and impact as key factors for staying in a job.  

The truth is, after several months in a new role the novelty of perks and benefits begin to wear off and, unless employees feel that they are contributing to society or their own personal career path, they become actively disengaged and inevitably jump ship to the next opportunity, earning their infamous reputation as the generation of “job-hoppers.” 

This is research-backed, with a study of three million employees finding that career development is the second biggest driver of employee engagement. The question, therefore, shouldn’t be: what can we do to make our company more attractive?  Instead, we should ask: how can we invest in our employee’s growth to foster meaning in work? Here are a few suggestions:

Career development plans 

Supporting employees to create a personalized career development plan is a proven method to increase productivity in the workplace and is a win-win technique for both employer and employee.

A manager, member of HR or a contracted coach or organizational consultant meets with the employee on a one on one basis to assist in putting together a step by step plan for career growth, setting measurable goals for an employee’s personal and professional development going forward.

The possibility to put together a strategy at work, and not having to look to outside avenues for help with career development, is a great way to foster a connection to a position and the company itself. This perk, alongside many other professional development methods such as career coaching or consulting, will inevitably lead to increased connection and loyalty from an employer to their workplace. 

Encourage networking

For many, networking only becomes a buzzword around the time when they start thinking of the next steps in their career and planning a change from a current role. 

However, networking is a key skill for professional development at all career stages, enabling increased knowledge-sharing and learning new skills from others in your industry, as well as creating potential partnerships. 

An employer can help employees to maximize their opportunities to network by holding in-house networking events such as meet-ups and lectures. Another great way to encourage networking is to support employees to attend external conferences and events. 

The knowledge that an employer is encouraging networking opportunities will go a long way in helping employees to grow in their industry, become experts in their field and subsequently feel valued and appreciated.

Invest in learning and development

Continuous learning is crucial, not only to enable top performance but to help employees maximize their skills, optimizing their contributions in work and maximizing engagement. enabling a deeper connection to their role.

Most companies frontload training when onboarding new employees, but what about after an employee has settled into their role? In order to remain relevant in a role and to progress, employees must be continually exposed to options for learning. 

It is important to note, that learning should also be in a framework and format that is of interest to the employee, helping them to embrace new skills and to meet their career goals. 

Companies can support continuous learning by running internal training programs or giving personal Learning & Development budgets, enabling employees to choose for themselves courses they want to study. In today’s competitive job market, companies that invest in employee’s futures will stand out above the rest. 

The message is simple, invest in your employee’s career growth from the outset. Focusing on these three methods outlined will not only boost productivity and performance of employees but will set them in good stead to maximize their roles and move forward in their careers. 


From Emma Wilson

Emma is a career and life coach, with a passion and drive for helping professionals figure out their next steps. She works as a Student Admissions Consultant at Jolt, a business school for the self-made. As well as a life coaching qualification, she trained as a lawyer and also has a bachelor’s degree in Psychology.