Difficulty Retaining Talent? Ask Employees How They Experience And Define Career


Individual career goals and organizational talent needs are very different by definition, intention and application.

Quantitative and generalized assessments of talent whose starting point is based on the organization’s functional needs and goals may not yield satisfactory answers as to why there may be a talent shortage or how organizations can attract, retain and further cultivate the talent they have.

Retention has as much to do with what employees are experiencing and how they define the meaning of career and work as it does in matching the functional needs of an organization with the specific skills required to perform those functions.

Defining career goals

Individual career goals are composed of highly subjective experiencing that often defies quantitative assessments. Career goals include personal definitions of what constitutes fulfilling and meaningful work. And these same definitions shift in meaning and are re-defined over time based on an individual’s engagement with and mastery of their work, in addition to the insights and perspectives they gain from the work they do day to day. This includes experiences of disappointment, set backs and failures.

Career goals include innate talents based on an individual’s unique capacities, experiences, values and motivations. They include an individual’s growing/expanding expertise and potential. 

Career goals include the desire to contribute, to be a part of something, to make a difference, to excel, to feel a sense of mastery and confidence, and to feel included. Career goals are also influenced by access to the job market and what opportunities are available.

A more experiential understanding of individual career goals requires more qualitative assessments to gain better understanding of the subjective experiences, the strivings and motivations that define and shape those same goals.

Discovering and building compatible overlaps between an organization’s talent needs and individual career goals will help organizations implement solutions that will both attract and retain the talent they desire. 


Britt-Mari is an integrative career counselor with an extensive background in existential psychology, career counseling and teaching. She helps clients create personally empowered solutions to career transition, burnout and the building of resilient and meaningful careers. For further information please contact her at brittmari@brittmarisykes.ca