Despite the majority of working people wanting to discuss their career goals more often, a staggering 46% of Brits have never participated in a high quality conversation with their manager about their career, the equivalent of 25 million workers in the UK. with 84% of employees only talking about it with their employers once or twice a year.

Of those who do speak with their employer about their career, 84% said it happens just once or twice a year. This is according to a new survey by Right Management the global career expert arm of ManpowerGroup.

The study examines the views of 4,402 global employees aged between 25 and 55 to understand to what extent employers are helping them manage their careers. It found that less than a third (31%) feel confident enough in their ability to initiate a conversation outside of annual performance reviews.

More than three-quarters (76%) of those surveyed said they would feel more engaged in their work if they held regular conversations about their career with their bosses. And a similar number (75%) said they would be happier in their job.

More than two-thirds (68%) said they would be more likely to share ideas with colleagues and managers about the business, and more likely to recommend the business as an employer to a friend. Finally, 73% said they would be more likely to stay with a business that offered careers advice.

Ian Symes, managing director at Right Management, said: “It’s time for organisations to relinquish career development models that are almost 50 years out of date. Career conversations need a completely different approach to meet employees’ changing needs and ensure an engaged and high-performing workforce. Employers need to start proving that they’re serious about nurturing this ‘career for me’ expectation that the next wave of talent demands. A performance review just once a year falls drastically short of achieving that.

“The fundamental challenge is that a majority of managers are unequipped to take action and drive the step change required. Managers fear having meaningful career conversations with their staff as they cannot meet expectations such as promotion or training investment, however careers are changing rapidly and employees are increasingly seeking opportunities for personal growth, new experiences and additional responsibility. If businesses continue to fail to take action, the exit door will continue to become even draughtier and business performance and profits will undoubtedly suffer as a result.”

Making a career plan

The research also shows a chronic lack of planning for individual careers both in the roles that employees currently operate in and looking at alternative career paths. Less than half (42%) of respondents feel that a career development plan is available to them. Just over a quarter (27%) think that a career map that outlines a variety of career alternatives is available.

Career development programmes

Practical programmes to develop the skills of employees are in woefully short supply, according to the study. Only 35% of those surveyed think that all employees have access to technical skills development programmes and just 27% believe there is access to leadership development. Furthermore just 18% feel that all employees have access to a coach and one fifth have access to formal mentoring programmes.