Employee development is almost universally recognized as a strategic tool for an organization's continuing growth, productivity and ability to retain valuable employees. Aligning the employee's career goals with the strategic goals of the organization not only helps the organization achieve its goals but also engages staff. Though the business rewards can be huge, career development does not fall solely on the employer; the employee's participation is required as well. Several factors influence the need for an organization to embrace career development:
- Identification and forecasting of personnel needs.
- Social and demographic trends.
- Work environment changes.
- The need for different types of jobs.
- Equity and a diversified workforce.
- Changes in technology.
- Limited opportunity for advancement without certain skills.
- The philosophy of the organization.
Creating a career development path for employees allows managers to address gaps in training. If addressed properly, it can lead to knowledge gained in an employee's current position, promotions and transfers to new positions. Employees usually feel more engaged when they know that the employer is concerned about both the organization's bottom line and about the well-being of its employees by providing an avenue to reach individual career goals while fulfilling the company's mission. Career development also has a direct impact on the entire organization by improving morale, career satisfaction, motivation, productivity and responsiveness in meeting departmental and organizational objectives.
A career development path provides employees with an ongoing mechanism to enhance their skills and knowledge, which leads to mastering their jobs and added professional development. The ultimate result will better production in the workplace. When creating a career development plan, the full life cycle of an employee needs to be taken into consideration.
Step 1: Place the focus on employee/career development
This first step requires communication to employees regarding the organization's commitment to assist employees in achieving their career goals. This could be as simple as reeducating employees on the organization's development. During this process, ensure that employees are provided with information about the organization and the vision of the department. Employers should also post opportunities for promotion or transfers and encourage qualified employees to apply.
During this first step, develop a system to recognize and record employees' current skills and use this list in cross-training.
Step 2: Determine the employee development budget
Analyze the needs of the organization in terms of what positions and skills are necessary to meet the organization's strategic goals. When creating an employee development budget, consider the following:
- What skills currently exist? What skills are lacking?
- Is cross-training a possibility?
- What is the need for specialized training, and what is its impact on the bottom line?
Once the facts have been gathered, create a training budget based on the needs and constraints of the organization.
Step 3: Staff the positions in a manner that will directly affect the employer's mission
With guidance from HR, seek the right person for the position that best fits the requirements and skills. Internal transfers or promotions should be considered first for employees who meet the requirements of the job or those who could meet these requirements with training or career development. Employees should be made aware of how they will be able to reach their career goals for their current positions as well as for future ones.
Step 4: Develop employees based on their goals and the needs of the organization
Recognize and use the departmental goals and objectives as a basis for developing employees. Employees—your human capital—need to be prepared to meet the challenges that come with those goals. Managers should be in a position to assist employees in achieving both departmental goals and employees' individual goals. In addition, managers should be held accountable for supporting the employee's need for time off and the use of other avenues to reach the objectives.
If an employee's goals are questionable, discuss them with the employee and set more attainable goals. Managers may also want to suggest career counseling, career workshops or self-assessments.
Employers must address the following types of needs:
- Individual needs: What level of education does the employee want to achieve—certification, licensure or a higher education degree?
- Departmental needs: Assess skills needs and the impact of acquiring these skills on the bottom line, including the cost of providing needed training, recruiting high-potential employees or engaging in succession planning.
- Organizational needs: Determine if the employee's educational and development goals benefit the organization in achieving its mission.
Step 5: Determine the types of tools/resources that should be allowed for development purposes
Types of training and resources include:
- In-service training.
- Tuition reimbursement programs.
- Online training: webcasts.
- Job rotation.
- Job bidding.
Step 6: Monitor the employee's performance to evaluate and provide feedback on knowledge gain and skill mastery in the employee's current position
Step 7: Create a career development plan for the employee based on information gained from conversations with the employee and the goals of the organization
Creating a career development plan includes the following steps:
- Prepare the goals.
- Establish the time frame to meet the goals.
- Establish the resources that will be needed to reach the goals.
- Consider the impact on staffing when employees are absent from work to attend training sessions.
- Link the goals to the employee's performance appraisal.
- Consistently encourage the employee to achieve established goals.
A human resource generalist was hired after an extensive internal and external search to ensure that skill sets met the requirements for the position. As part of the onboarding process, the organizational goals and objectives were outlined during the employer orientation and in the employer's handbook, and the employee's manager discussed with the employee the departmental goals and how the position affects the department as well as the organization. The conversation led to a discussion of what the new employee wanted in the way of career development. She indicated that she had aspirations of becoming PHR-certified in an effort to enhance her reputation as an HR professional. The manager, who was well aware of the HR budget, indicated that there were monies available to support such an endeavor, and the achievement of such a certification would not only satisfy a personal goal but also provide the department with more credibility. Also, the organization would realize gains by having an expert in this field who could offer a knowledge base that was not in place before, which could allow the employer to function more efficiently.
A candidate for a clerk typist position was selected based on meeting the requirements of the job. During the interview process, the candidate was made aware of the organization's tuition reimbursement plan. When offered the position, the candidate accepted it based on the fact that there was an opportunity for career development. After about six months on the job, the employee asked the manager about the tuition reimbursement program. He was eligible based on the policy requirements. The manager was happy to have a one-on-one conversation with the employee, as the manager had been impressed with the progress the employee was making and with his overall positive attitude. At the meeting, the employee expressed his interest in signing up for courses at the local community college to pursue a degree in music because he wanted to become a music teacher. The manager was surprised that this was the direction that the employee wanted to take in his career. When first hired, the employee had shown an interest in pursuing an IT career. The organization's policy clearly stated that the degree would have to be related to an employee's current position or one that might lead to promotional opportunities. A music degree was not in line with the departmental or organizational goals. Therefore, the manager was not able to approve the request. Instead, the manager scheduled a meeting in the future to discuss what options would be available for continuing education. Although the employee was disappointed, he understood that the employer's policy was reasonable and that the door was still open to future opportunities.