Career trajectories have traditionally fallen into three categories; upwards and onwards, upwards and then plateau or upwards and out. Modern career routes are far more complicated with the arrival of the millenial generation and portfolio careers .
The corporate world is slowly waking up to the fact that colleagues are increasingly searching for diversity from their careers and their lifestyles.People now expect to change jobs with increasing frequency and taking time out to peruse alternative interests is now seen as the norm.
Consequently those who have taken time out for caring responsibilities are now no longer the pariahs they once were but rather can enjoying a squiggly career along with everyone else. The introduction of return to work programs and flexible talent networks arrangements have supported this change in culture but how can we ensure that squiggly careers become normalised in the corporate world?
For alternative career routes to be truly accepted a wholesale cultural change needs to take place starting from the top of organisations and should include three things;
Real model from the top
I have yet to read about a CEO or Board member who has had a purely traditional route to success, and organisations should be celebrating those squiggly careers and provide real models for others to follow. There is also considerable evidence that flexible working is accessed more the higher up in the organisation but often this is informal flexibility hidden below the radar - people need to know hey can grow their career and still have flexibility.
Focus on flexibility as the new norm
If all colleagues access some sort of flexibility then an organisation no longer sees flexibility as an ad on but rather part of a a normal squiggly career. This can be supported by encouraging the development of a Flex Network affinity group which allows organisations to work to improve their flexible working proposition globally for all colleagues from the ground up.
Commit to inclusive decision making being the norm
By valuing those who have taken an alternative career route an organisation is able to make better and more innovative decisions due to diversity of thought, knowledge and experience. The process of inclusive decision making also reduces down any possible group think biases which then allows new and more interesting ideas to be brought to the fore.
By valuing people as individuals who can make a significant impact to your organisation you are better able to value those colleagues who have different career paths and begin to see them as an asset rather than a burden.
All opinions are solely my own and do not express the views or opinions of my employer.