Offering a Career Development Program? Consider This

Are you having regular development conversations with your employees? The long-term commitment of your employees and the health of your succession pipeline depend on it. According to a Deloitte report, only 14% of companies describe themselves as ‘strong’ at succession planning.1 And another alarming stat: 66% of satisfied employees are open to new positions.2 A career development program is an important retention tactic.

Ideally, a manager has an individual development plan for all direct reports. This ensures all employees are offered opportunities for continued career development while reducing the perception of favoritism. Determining what this ongoing development looks like depends on your organization and culture. However, these 5 considerations will help you start a sustainable career development program that delivers results.

Select Various Offerings

Diversifying the options is a budget-friendly way to appeal to a broad range of employees. In fact, some organizations choose to provide each employee with an annual allocation to customize their career development. This can include certifications, online courses, instructor-led programs, and conferences. Furthermore, others may sponsor in-house programs that develop employees based on the specific needs of the organizations. Still others may have a hybrid approach and offer a variety of resources to develop their employees.

Be Realistic

A career development program is not designed to “fix” people, like a car or a computer. Changing behaviors or enhancing skills take time. While some employees may provide immediate impact, others may need more time as they incorporate new habits. In our experience, powerful career development programs are:

  • Regarded as a strategic priority
  • Supported by the C-suite
  • Offered at all levels
  • Opportunities for promotion within.

Keeping those tips in mind, set goals for your career development program that can be adjusted. A realistic viewpoint helps you to see the long-term value of employee development. In fact, patience and support make a difference.

Identify Barriers to a Career Development Program

Time constraints may be a big barrier. In fact, a State of Leadership Report states that 43% of leadership and development managers see this as the top hurdle. Next up are no proven ROI, too much organizational change, and lack of funding.3 Take an honest assessment of what stands in your way at your organization. Deciding to offer career development won’t deliver results. However, follow-through will. Know what may impede this follow-through.

Communicate the Why

It is important for managers to explain why they want to invest in employees. For example, are you preparing the person for future leadership opportunities? Or does this person need to refine a specific skill to be more productive in their current role? You are more likely to get buy-in from leadership if you articulate the clear goal for investing in your employees. Likewise, you are more likely to get follow-through from the employee if he or she understands how their career will benefit from the development. The why behind it garners commitment and participation.

Ensure Managers Actively Engage in the Career Development Program

The success of most career development programs is tied to the support and engagement of one’s manager. If the manager is providing opportunities to practice new skills or removes barriers to implement new ideas, the employee can adapt quicker. In addition, the organization can reap the benefits of their investment faster.

If the manager is disengaged, the employee may learn a lot personally, but may not have the support in returning the investment back into the organization. Likewise, encourage managers to take an active role in development. Allow them the time and energy they need to keep it a priority.

A career development program may be the best way to get (and retain) the skills you need.

Many employers are increasingly using career development to motivate and retain employees. When employees see an internal candidate hired, they see opportunities to advance. As a result, this increases their engagement and performance. Learn more about different offerings here. 

It’s stated that 29% of employees claim a lack of career opportunity as their reason for leaving a job.4 Your decision to invest in employees now has a direct affect on your retention and engagement scores in the future.

1 Global Human Capital Trends, Deloitte University Press
2 Employee Engagement & Loyalty Statistics: The Ultimate Collection, Access Perks
3 The State of Leadership Report, Harvard Business Publishing
4 Promote from Within or Hire From Outside?,