How to approach career development for your entire company

Figuring out how to maintain and develop your employees’ careers will yield better outcomes and retention. So how can you up your company’s game in career development?

It’s no surprise to business owners that the process of hiring and retaining high quality staff is listed as one of the most stressful company processes and one which requires specific attention if it’s to be done right.

It’s also fair to say that in order to succeed in attracting the right staff to your company, businesses must compete with each other to be the most attractive option to employees. In the lead up to COVID-19 ‘recruitment competition levels had hit an all-time high (according to Forbes), meaning even mid-size businesses need to look further than free coffee and gym memberships if they want to appeal to high quality, career minded employees.

And while recruitment competition may have eased as a result of the pandemic, businesses still need to consider how to retain and enhance their employees’ experience as it’s much more cost effective than trying to continually hire new staff.

While the concept of a ‘job for life’ is long gone and the traditional career path has been done and dusted, studies still show that one of the most appealing ‘perks’ a business can offer to their existing and potential employees is a clear, supported pathway to career development and advancement.

Benefits of focusing on career development

There are many benefits a company receives when supporting their employees with career development.

Most employees do not expect a company to manage their career path for them, but they do like to feel that the business is taking an interest in them personally, and providing them with the necessary support for them to advance.

This support produces a more engaged team who are enthusiastic about their work and willing to go the extra mile when needed. In addition, research has shown that people whose career development is being supported by their existing employer are far less likely to seek a role with a different company.

Another benefit of working closely with your employees to explore their career advancement is the potential to uncover specific interests, skills, talents and attributes that staff may possess, and which have remained unused in their current role. This not only improves their individual capabilities, but enhances the capability of the overall company.

In the ever-changing world of business, and as we have seen with the effects of COVID-19 in 2020, many companies find that they have to change, grow or pivot certain aspects of their offering overnight. This means that the skills your employees have now, may not be the only skills you require them to have in the future.

By working with staff to upskill and develop related interests, you may find that when changes are needed, your existing staff already possess the required acumen to propel your business forward without delay and to gain you an upper hand over your competitors.

When it comes to hiring, having a clear career development program for your existing staff will actually help you attract new talent. While many businesses discover that career development programs help them fill roles internally, it’s inevitable that the need to recruit will arise at some point.

All businesses attach their reputations to any job vacancies, and if word gets around that your company is developing its teams seriously, you are much more likely to attract high quality, effective staff that will stay with you for the long term.

Consider what training options are available

To develop and advance the careers of your staff, it is essential that they receive training and/or mentorship to help them develop their knowledge and skillset. In large corporations, this is usually conducted via internal programs or specific HR hosted learning teams.

For mid-sized businesses, it’s not always as straightforward and budgets do not always allow for such an in-depth approach. Thankfully, there are many training companies who have recognised this and have developed a range of training and mentorship programs that can be outsourced.

Industry Associations, for example, The Public Relations Institute of Australia or the Law Society of NSW, offer regular training programs specifically designed for employees of that industry, and which will develop, enhance or provide new skills for your staff. The AI Group is another organisation that offers some great training opportunities for those in bigger businesses as well as Skill Finder, which recently launched to offer free digital skills training for Australians.

More generally, sites like LinkedIn offer a huge range of digitally delivered short-form training courses on their LinkedIn Learning platform. These short courses cover a range of topics, industries and skill levels and can be undertaken at a time convenient to both employee and employer.

For more personalised and hands-on training options, there are a huge range of experts who offer in-house training programs and mentorships in specific areas or industries. These can be found on sites such as Leadership Directions or EventBrite and should be backed by recent and relevant industry testimonials.

Don’t say “set and forget” rather “never rest”

Formal career progression talks usually take place with staff once per year, but it’s essential to understand that the training itself is a yearlong commitment and requires a sustained effort.

You should be consistently reviewing and monitoring employees’ goals and objectives, enrolling your staff in relevant training and learning opportunities, encouraging in-company mentoring and job shadowing and where beneficial, event rotating employee roles.

Career development consists of, on average, 70 percent ‘on the job’ training and having a clear plan that you discuss with your employee throughout the year will ensure that they are aware of the bigger picture, they understand the program you have in store for them and they feel supported in their career path.

Source : MYOB October 2020 

 Reproduced with the permission of MYOB. This article by Renae Smith was originally published at

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