Career Planning: How to Help Employees Plan Their Careers

Employees are the nerves of an organisation. If management will not focus on their careers, then it will not benefit them in the long run. Here we discussed how an organisation can care about its employee’s interests.

One of the greatest challenges facing organisations of all sizes and industries is a lack of skilled, qualified workers. Although this problem has been around for almost as long as commerce itself, conditions over the past few decades have seen an acceleration of people leaving workplaces where the path to fulfilment is stagnant and advancement opportunities are lacking.

The recent shutdowns and an inability of companies to lure workers back to the office, or at least find new staff members to replace them, have led many employers to create incentives ranging from free meals to onsite wellness services.

One of the best and most sustainable ways to build a productive workforce is to help your employees plan their careers. In many cases, these efforts will cost little more than time and a willingness to leave your comfort zone.

The importance of career planning in the workplace

Unfortunately, few business leaders – and even fewer staff members – consider the advancement of an employee once they accept a job offer. Sure, it may be discussed during the recruitment or interview phase of employee onboarding.

But, once a candidate is in place and settled into the corporate culture, any talk of career advancement and fulfilment is often only revisited during periodic employee reviews or when worker dissatisfaction begins to reach critical mass.

The fact is that lack of opportunities for professional development is one of the main reasons people leave for another job.

Although each individual is ultimately responsible for their own professional development, it’s nearly impossible to successfully achieve without the support and assistance of their employer.

Improve your employee engagement

Improve your employee engagement in less than two minutes

Get started for free today.

Free sign up

Prioritising employee career development extends beyond properly training a staff member for their position or learning new skills. Skills and training should also expand in relation to industry trends and best practices as they emerge.

This not only ensures that workers are able to competently perform in their current roles, but it also future-proofs your company and your team, adding value to your business inside and out.

Consider these eye-opening statistics supporting the link between career development, staff turnover rates, and corporate profitability.

According to a report published by the Harvard Business Review, 94 percent of workers would remain at a company that invested in their professional development.

In another survey, 74 percent of workers cite lack of career development opportunities as a factor in the failure to reach their full potential on the job.

Availability of leadership development training improved staff performance by 20 percent.

Thirty-four percent of employees surveyed cite lack of career development as a factor in leaving their previous job.

Ninety-one percent of workers say they want personalised and relevant training.

Companies that invest at least $1,500 per employee on career development see 24 percent higher profits on average.


Only 29 percent of companies have a formal learning & development (L&D) program in place.

Forty-one percent of those overseeing five or more employees report having no training at all; that number jumps to 59 percent for those overseeing at least two staff members.

Staff turnover costs companies more than $630 billion dollars annually.

Investing in employee career planning and development brings a high ROI in terms of job satisfaction, staff retention rates, and profits. The cost of not doing so jeopardises your company and accomplishes the reverse.

How supporting staff career development benefits your business

It’s a mistake to think that supporting career advancement and fulfillments will somehow damage your company or threaten your leadership.

In fact, the opposite is true.

When staff feels that their work is meaningful and contributes to the advancement of the organisation itself, they have a vested interest in seeing their workplace succeed. Therefore, they’re more likely to take an interest in supporting and contributing to growth.

Business leaders and managers risk deflating workplace morale when they overlook – or feel threatened by – prioritising career planning and development. Employees need to feel supported and encouraged on the job, and they prefer employment with companies that further their goals by taking a personal interest in staff morale and professional fulfilment.

Productivity, service, and revenue will suffer as a result of staff neglect. This will, in turn, affect your reputation, result in losing good people, and adversely impact your ability to attract new talent.

Workers who are unfulfilled or see no path to advancement will leave for greener pastures and career development elsewhere.

There’s a good chance that the “elsewhere” will be one of your competitors.

Creating a path to career fulfilment within your company

As you can see, it’s essential to place employee career development and career planning at the heart of your corporate mission and goals.

You can create a viable staff development plan by:

Taking stock of your current staff development activities and measuring them against your long-term business goals. Where are there gaps or misalignments, and how can you rectify the situation?

Making a point of promoting from within. As your company grows, opportunities for leadership and advancement will open up. Take steps to ensure that your staff is ready to meet future challenges.

Reassessing your efforts and inviting feedback. Job satisfaction and fulfilment are intangibles that you can’t immediately measure by higher sales or more customers. The best way to gauge your progress is by asking your staff.

This last point goes beyond just asking your team if they’re happy. Take a more direct approach by talking to team members one-on-one to learn about new skills they’d like to acquire or additional training. Empower them by asking their opinion on more efficient ways to get the job done.

Seven specific career planning development activities

Image: Pexels

Seven specific career planning development activities

You can create a spirit of growth and professional fulfilment by incorporating these seven practices into your corporate culture.

Actively promote and arrange career advancement training and opportunities

When you invest in your team, they will continue to invest their talent and energy in your company.

Continued education and job training help employees:

  • Build their skillset
  • Improve job performance
  • Provide better service
  • Feel more valued

You needn’t go so far as to fund an advanced degree, but it isn’t a bad idea if it’s in your budget.

Online training, video conference, and industry events are low-cost ways of helping staff members keep on top of industry trends, develop new skills, and feel more confident in their abilities. You can also arrange guest speakers to schedule a lunch-an-learn session.

Get staff buy-in by asking for input on topics of interest or online courses that would help them on the job. Encourage them to share what they’ve learned with others within your company.

Inspire motivation by helping employees visualise their future

Employees are more productive and effective on the job when they’re motivated and engaged. They’re willing to come early, stay late, and otherwise go above and beyond to help your company succeed.

However, they also need to feel that their contribution matters and see how your success is also their success.

You can inspire your staff and keep them motivated in several ways.

  1. Set personalised goals that help your employees feel they’re making progress on the job
  2. Discuss specific ways their contribution translates to a successful enterprise
  3. Acknowledge a job well done
  4. Help them visualise what career success looks like in tangible and non-tangible ways

It may help to create a flowchart that allows your employee to envision where specific paths and life choices might take them.

You can also find ways to celebrate milestones, such as reaching a company goal or finishing the first phase of a project. Single out and vocalise individual contributions that helped your team reach these goals or milestones.

Take an interest in individual career goals

Beyond acknowledging staff contributions to corporate success, demonstrate that you also care about how individual contributions to company success add to professional and personal fulfilment.

Commit to meeting with individual staff members one-on-one. Actively listen to their aspirations and goals within the company, and outline potential career planning paths within your organisation. Work with them to create a list of milestones or steps that they can take to reach those goals.

If you work with remote staff, arrange in-person conferences for these conversations. Emphasise their continued importance to the company, even when they’re not physically present at a desk or on the floor. Remote work adds flexibility to their work schedule, making staff feel isolated and disconnected.

Even casual conversations about career development within your organisation can keep employees feeling engaged and motivated.

Schedule job or role rotation opportunities

Dead-end jobs or facing the same routine day after day are sure ways to diminish the human spirit. They’re among the top reasons for dissatisfaction on the job, and boredom doesn’t really motivate people to jump out of bed eager to get to work in the morning.

You can create a more vibrant, interesting workplace that still gets business done by creating a role rotation program.

It isn’t quite the same as picking someone to be “Boss for the Day”. Role rotation involves periodically allowing workers to take on different roles within your company or their department if you have a larger workforce with multiple departments.

A few days or a week in another position allows staff to get a fuller picture of how your company operates, exposes them to different career paths or opportunities, and adds to their skill set. It’s also a great onboarding activity for new staff members to acquaint them with all aspects of your company.

In order for this to work, it will take a little planning and buy-in from all stakeholders, especially leadership.

Here’s a seven-step plan to make it work for your business:

  1. Evaluate your business plan to identify critical functions that fit within the program.
  2. Analyse roles to determine the skills that will carry over during the job rotation.
  3. Build job profiles and development maps for each position within the program.
  4. Create a job readiness profile for each team member to determine the best fit for role rotation.
  5. Develop a selection process to ensure a strong bench of candidates.
  6. Determine a readiness period based on how long it will take to cross-train.
  7. Schedule a detailed orientation and training session.

Remember, you’re essentially creating a talent pool within your organisation of flexible, trained team members. Support the process and the participants, keep the lines of communication open, and recognise successes.

Establish a job mentoring/shadowing program

With career planning, mentorship programs can be organised with staff working under a leader within their own department or you can form a program where candidates have an opportunity to work in another department, branch, or division of your company.

The mentor needn’t be an immediate supervisor, but any senior staff member who’s a natural at mentoring less seasoned staff. This is also a good course of action to help remote workers feel more connected and engaged with your business.

Job shadowing gives staff an opportunity to explore various positions or departments within your company. It will help workers who are beginning to feel disengaged in their current position or perhaps inspire an employee to take a new career path they hadn’t considered before.

Interdepartmental job shadowing and mentoring also improve enterprise-wide collaboration creates a sense of unity within your organisation, and help staff members better understand how your company functions. Joe from customer relations may not understand the complexities of another department until he’s had a chance to experience them first-hand.

Encourage a sustainable work/life balance

Few things trigger dissatisfaction in the workplace like job burnout. By helping with career development, staff can acquire skills that will help them work smarter and more efficiently.

Taking a personal interest in their quality of life and providing opportunities to relieve stress will help ensure that they’re focused and working at optimal performance levels. Flexible scheduling, job-sharing, and programs that support adequate work/life balance also contribute to productivity and job satisfaction.

Establish a succession program

It’s inevitable that even the most talented and dedicated staff member will eventually retire. Rather than scrambling to find a replacement, establish a formal succession program for critical positions within your company.

This will inspire staff members with high potential to develop skills that will advance their careers and career planning skills. You can identify individual candidates through mentoring or shadowing programs.

Formal succession planning involves looking beyond traditional leaders like managers and supervisors. Instead, look for individuals that possess a combination of skills that can be developed and honed to fill critical roles.

In Summary

Would you rather be the company that loses talent and fights to stay fully staffed because your team feels replaceable or the business where people fight for a position because your team feels supported and valued?

People want to work for a company that instills pride and inspiration whatever the industry or position.

Helping staff members with career planning plants the seeds for increased productivity, innovation, loyalty, and cohesion. When you invest in your employees’ futures by supporting career development, they work harder and go the extra mile to contribute to business growth and viability.

About the Author

Uday Tank is a serial entrepreneur and content marketing leader who serves the international community at Rankwisely. He enjoys writing, including marketing, productivity, business, health, diversity, and management.

Team 6Q

Team 6Q