Recent research by Right Management found that one in five employees around the world is in the “wrong role,” meaning he or she isn’t “motivated by, engaged with or productive in” the job. According to Phyllis Millikan, senior vice president for career management at Right Management, that’s a problem when “active disengagement … costs companies $450 billion to $550 billion,” and employees who “want to come to work” increase both revenue and customer satisfaction. “Implementing a career development strategy,” she says, “can make the difference in whether your best and your brightest stay or whether they go.”

Technology-Enabled Career Development

With a $2.5 million Series A funding round in October, Fuel50 is attempting to help solve this problem using career pathing software. Anne Fulton, co-founder and CEO of Fuel50, describes career pathing as “ meets LinkedIn.” With 86 percent of employees leaving organizations because of a lack of career development, it’s important for leaders to be able to match employees’ skills and goals with opportunities inside the organization.

Fuel50’s software uses gamified exercises to help employees identify their skills, interests and values and then matches them with opportunities. It also tracks metrics such as employee engagement and satisfaction to help line managers and HR predict whether employees will leave and then put plans in place to engage them enough to stay. A new product called FuelGig will help users find projects and other experiences to help them on their career path, and Fuel Analytics will help managers build “agile career frameworks” and provide the business intelligence they need to make talent decisions. Clients such as MasterCard, City Growth and eBay have found seen engagement increase by around 30 percent, Fulton says, and retention improve by around 50 percent.

A Changing Economy

Automation, says Carlos Lagrange, co-founder and CEO of Sunlight, is creating “a massive need to upskill and retrain millions of people for new jobs. More importantly, however, it poses a need to entirely rethink the way we approach education and how we invest in people.” Sunlight, which recently raised £500,000 (approximately $674,000) in seed funding, provides a library of curated content for users to purchase based on budgets pre-determined by training managers. What’s more, the company is also developing skill tracking and role mapping functions that will enable training managers to help employees identify the skills they need for current or desired roles.

“The world of work is changing,” Fulton says. As they face change and even chaos, employees are looking for transparency from their employers. Providing career paths, training, and the opportunity to try new projects and grow into new roles can give employees that clarity.

Millikan agrees that this type of guidance is increasingly important. “Sixty-eight percent of employees now expect employers to help them with their career development … [by] providing the tools and resources that will help them craft their career strategy and align their development plans with the organization.”

Of course, once their career paths and required competencies are identified, employees must also be willing and able to develop the skills they need. Right Management and Hogan Assessments have partnered to develop a learnability quotient, which helps assess three traits they believe are essential for learning: motivation and willingness to understand concepts better “and think outside the box,” their willingness to take on new challenges, and their “intrinsic desire to explore and try new ways of doing things.” It’s important to identify those employees with high learnability quotients, Millikan says, and then give them the tools they need to learn new skills and advance their careers.

In a full-employment economy, organizations compete for top talent. Supporting learning and career growth inside the company is not only good for employees, but it’s also good for business. Technology-enabled career pathing and development can help make sure organizations recruit and retain the people they need to succeed now and into the future.