As business structures flatten out there is increasingly less room for promotion, with roles being reduced and traditional hierarchies restructuring. Expectations for upwards development remain high within the incoming workforce, however, posing a significant challenge for companies. ManPower reports that 93% of millennials view ongoing skills development as important to careers, highlighting the value they place on continuous development and growth. In an employment market which is increasingly fluid, how should businesses ensure that they are engaging and retaining talent when a straight-forward promotion is not always possible?

One simple answer is to change the language being used around the development opportunities at your company. Build a rhetoric of ‘progression’ rather than ‘promotion’ which emphasises how people can grow without changing roles. This also builds into a culture in which developing ‘outwards’ replaces the traditional ‘upwards’ movement up a corporate ladder. Satisfy employees’ drive for learning by providing varied on the job training, changing project teams and clear goals for role evolvement moving forwards.

A final point on this: Make the most of your people while you have them. Accept that people may leave – it’s just the nature of the market these days – and instead of worrying about that invest your time capitalising on the time you have with them. What can your business offer to help your employees reach their career goals, even if those goals ultimately take them elsewhere? Think about your current employees as your future ambassadors, going out into the world to promote the supportive culture of learning that they experienced while they were with you.