75% of Employees Feel 'Off-Course' - What This Means For Retention

Written by: Christina Merhar
Originally published on November 18, 2013. Last updated July 13, 2020.

Do your employees feel "off-course" in their current job roles? And if so, does this mean they are likely to jump ship soon? According to a recent poll by, a majority of working Americans consider their current job to be off-course with their career goals. Depending on your company, this could be a sign of high employee turnover and low engagement. In other words, this statistic should matter to you.

employees off course

75% of Employees Feel Their Career is Off-Course

The poll by found that more than 75% of workers consider their current job to be either “not on course at all” or only "slightly on course" with their career vision. The poll received over 1,300 online responses and asked: “How well does your current job meet your long-term course for your career vision? On a scale of 1-5 with 1 being 'Totally on course' and 5 being 'totally off course'.” Here are the results:

  • (1) Totally on course—6%

  • (2) Very much on course—5%

  • (3) Somewhat on course—14%

  • (4) Slightly on course—19%

  • (5) Not on course at all—56%

Source: poll, conducted August 19 - September 2, 2013.

What Employers Can Do to Increase Engagement and Reduce Turnover

While the poll doesn't delve into the "why", one can consider reasons for this low engagement statistic -- we've been through a recession where for many a job, even if not in our career path, was a job. But, employers can take action to reduce the number of dis-engaged employees through intentional hiring and onboarding programs.

We recently wrote about reducing turnover via onboarding programs and offered these tips for increasing employee engagement:

  1. Engage Quickly to Reach Proficiency Faster

  2. Have Some Fun

  3. Build a Leader-Employee Relationship

  4. Use Gamification to Achieve Learning Goals

But perhaps reducing employees who feel off-course goes back even further to hiring and job placement. During the hiring phases are you asking these types of questions?

  • What are your long term career goals?

  • How does this role fit into your long term goals?

  • Do you feel this is a lateral move? Upward move? Downward move? Why?

  • What are your compensation requirements? Where would you like to be compensation-wise in 1 year? 3 years? 5 years?

  • What skills will you contribute, and what skills do you want to acquire?

  • What do you want to be "when you grow up"? (i.e. what is your ultimate career dream or goal?)

These types of questions will help you hire the right person - someone who is engaged and who will contribute at a high level to the company. On the flip side, you're helping that employee gain skills to reach their ultimate career goal. These win-wins equate to increased loyalty and productivity to your business. 

Download our employee retention eBook to learn how to keep your most valued employees without breaking your budget.

Are your employees in roles that are on-course with their careers? Does the statistic that most employees feel "off-course" surprise you? What does your business do to increase employee engagement and reduce turnover? Leave a comment.

Originally published on November 18, 2013. Last updated July 13, 2020.


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