7 Best Practices For Employee Career Development Programs

employee career development best practices

To stay competitive in the ever-changing marketplace, it is crucial to focus on the learning and development of employees.

Since the industrial revolution, organizations have been facing stiff competition from the global market. To keep innovating and finding solutions to critical problems, it is imperative to have employees that are highly skilled and experienced. Employee career development programs are a powerful tool that focuses on assessing the current competencies of employees and providing them with opportunities to learn more. 

In this article, we will discuss the best practices for employee career development programs that will help you create a dynamic and result-oriented workforce.

Also Read: Benefits of implementing employee career development programs

Employee Career Development Program Best Practices

The below discussed best practices will help in creating and implementing employee career development programs in the organization. You can also customize them based on the business, industry, and employee requirements.

Top Management’s Involvement In Building An Employee Career Development Program

Support and commitment from upper management is the primary driving factor in creating a successful employee career development program. Without the involvement of the visionary leaders, it is highly unlikely that the tools and processes crafted by the HRs will harbinger anticipated results. Upper management needs to understand why they want to create an employee development program and should align it with the organization's mission and vision. 

Furthermore, appointing a career development champion from the board will help in giving direction and commitment to the initiatives. The person should be involved in the end-to-end processes of need assessment and analysis of final objectives. They help in cascading the management’s vision down to various levels of the organization. It also acts as a medium in communication perspectives from both employees and employers.

Also Read: Mentorship vs Sponsorship: Why you need both

Align Career Development With Individual And Organizational Goals

An organization that thinks about employee development from a business perspective won’t have much to achieve. There is a great consensus that the success of an employee’s career development plan depends on the perfect alignment of employees’ expectations and organizational goals. Much research has shown that organizations whose development programs stem from a downward-to-upward approach get better results. 

Therefore, HR management should try to gauge employee career development expectations by conducting surveys and interviews. They must gather and analyze metrics pertaining to employees’ expectations, such as the new hire retention ratio, overall employee turnover, and employee engagement index. The metrics highlight a deviation of organizational objectives from employees’ professional goals. 

Also Read: What is mentoring software and how does it work?

Share Career Development Responsibilities Of Employees

employee development programs best practices

For years, the onus of employee development has been on the employer. But with the evolution of technologies and the remodeling of work environments, employee development has become a shared responsibility. The traditional approach to employee development, where the employer had complete responsibility for the employee's career, has now changed. In today’s era, the ownership of employee development is shared by the employee, the manager, and the organization. 

Employees have to own the growth and development of their careers and take part in skill enhancement activities. The role of a manager is to help identify the skill gaps and motivate employees towards a growth trajectory. They have to mentor and coach the team members in order to help employees sail in the right direction. The organization’s role is to provide and facilitate a safe and progressive environment with the right tools and resources.

Thus, to create and implement an employee career development program, all three entities have to come together and fulfill their responsibilities.

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Create A Learning Culture In The Organization

Peter Senge, the renowned author, popularized the concept of learning organizations in his book "The Fifth Discipline." He stated that a learning organization is a group of people working together collectively to enhance their capacities to create results they really care about.

A lot of an organization's success is dependent on the commitment, enthusiasm, and skills of its workforce. And creating an environment that nurtures employees and recognizes and rewards them for continuous learning is of the utmost importance. Organizations like Apple, Microsoft, GitLab, and Sage have intently focused on creating a learning culture that supports employee development. That’s how they became a renowned brand in the job market.

While it is crucial to have a supportive culture for continuous learning to flourish, it is equally challenging to mold the organizational culture. Changing an organization’s culture is a long and excruciating process. The upper management has to have sheer determination and purpose behind it.

Also Read: How do I start a mentoring program at work?

Provide Tools And Resources For Development

IBM, the leader in software and hardware technologies, is one of the pioneers of employee development. Since 1916, it has been focusing on the development of IBM employees. It spends over $574 million every year on employee training and development.

Every year, IBM employees log in around 28.6 million hours of training and education. It includes both traditional and non-traditional learning. No doubt, with such internal resources, it has a highly talented and equipped workforce. 

As discussed earlier, it is the responsibility of the organization to impart the tools, resources, information, and processes required for employee development. For employees to take part in their development process, it is crucial to provide them with the right resources. These resources can be in the form of competency mapping tools, skill gap assessments, multimedia tools for anytime and anywhere learning, personalized career development and planning programs, and sponsoring higher education. Check out Mentoring Complete to kickstart your career development program.

It has been observed that organizations that support their employees' endeavors to learn and grow are more successful and rank higher in the competitive landscape. That’s why numerous organizations have successfully developed internal training programs to cater to the needs of their employees. 

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Emphasize Experiential Learning In Organization

A business leader understands the importance of imparting learning to their employees. No ambitious business growth is possible without working to elevate the skills and knowledge of the workforce. While there are many organizations that still believe in the traditional learning methodology, many innovative companies have moved to experiential learning. It is a proven fact that employees are able to learn and grasp more when they experience problems firsthand. 

Developed by David Kolb in 1984, the experiential learning theory still dominates the learning and development industry. He suggests that there are four stages of learning: concrete learning, reflective observation, abstract conceptualization, and active experimentation. The first two stages of the process focus on getting hold of an experience. And the last two are focused on transforming it. 

Incorporating experiential learning practices such as on-job training, job rotations, projects, and assignments helps in creating an engaged, motivated, skilled, dynamic, trained, and experienced workforce. 

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Create Programs Targeting Diversity And Inclusion

diversity and inclusion

Much research has shown the importance of a diverse workforce. It leads to higher productivity, engagement, creativity, innovation, problem solving, and higher revenue. When people from diverse backgrounds and cultures come together for a higher purpose, they are able to achieve better results. That’s why most Fortune 500 organizations now focus on diversity and inclusion as a key strategy for achieving business objectives.

While creating employee career development programs, it is crucial to focus on the empowerment of underrepresented groups, including religious and ethnic minorities, people with disabilities, employees from older generations, women of color, and LGBTQIA+ groups. The programs must address the career expectations of groups and provide them with opportunities to learn and contribute. By taking into consideration the needs and requirements of these groups and respecting their unique characteristics and perspectives, organizations can build trust, loyalty, and honesty among employees. 

Also Read: Mentoring expectations from mentors and mentees

Are you interested in creating employee career development programs for your workforce? Then use the best practices discussed in this article to build a result-driven and data-backed program. 

Looking to start an employee career development program but don't know where to begin? Schedule a quick demo for expert guidance.

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Topics: Employee Development, Employee Development Goals