The broad category of activities that are referred to as “career development” includes an array of policies and practices that are designed to heighten professional opportunities, growth, and advancement of the course of the entire career cycle. Typically, the most important facets of career development include career planning, education and training, and promotion opportunities. Although most of these activities don’t directly impact the bottom line, they can exert a very strong influence on team dynamics and organizational culture.
Career Development is a Collaborative Process
The vast majority of the career development literature is oriented toward employees who are seeking to define and carve out a successful professional pathway for themselves. However, in recent years, career development experts have also begun to focus on the important role that employers play in the process.
After all, it has been pointed out, employers, managers, and supervisory staff are largely responsible for determining whether an atmosphere of upward mobility and steady advancement is established as a permanent feature of a company’s organizational culture.
On the other hand, if a company’s key leaders have not made a conscientious effort to optimize their employees’ opportunities for professional advancement, it is likely that employees will eventually begin to look elsewhere for roles that they feel will offer more fulfillment and better long-term career prospects.
Career Development is an Important Part of Employee Retention
These issues are particularly important in the context of the hospitality industry, in which relatively high turnover rates have long been a challenge for many employers. Indeed, recent industry research has shown that there is a strong link between a company’s perceived lack of professional development opportunities and high turnover rates. Industry experts agree that a strong emphasis on career development is a key aspect of an effective employee retention strategy.
By taking the lead and offering comprehensive support in the career development arena, employers can not only help to maximize their staff’s effectiveness, job satisfaction, and long-term success, but they can also boost retention and encourage organizational commitment and job loyalty. Here are a few simple guidelines geared to help you develop and launch a career development support strategy in your organization.
- Promote Internal Promotions.
Decades of research have proven that getting an outside candidate up to speed can be a costly and time-consuming process. The business benefits of hiring internally are clear-cut — and experts say that they also boost employee morale. Clearly post available positions in an area where current employees are likely to see them. Make it easy for current staff to check on and apply for available positions. If your organization is large or is part of a chain, it may be beneficial to host an internal “job fair” several times a year.
- Establish a Mentoring Program.
Pairing up with a partner who is further along in their professional path is a great way to help younger employees begin to envision their own career progression. A mentoring program gives established employees a chance to share their accumulated knowledge and experience, while also allowing younger workers to get a first-hand understanding of the steps they need to take to succeed.
- Cross-Train for Lateral Development.
The sense of being stuck in a career rut is a sure-fire morale drain. Offer your employees regular opportunities to train in areas and roles outside of their typical responsibilities. Not only will your organization benefit from a more comprehensively-trained staff, but your employees will get a chance to explore other options and paths.
- Implement Accountability Measures for Career Development Activities.
Make sure supervisors and managers know that supporting staff career development is a priority in the organization. Some companies have done this by making employee career development a responsibility that is assessed in managers’ performance reviews. According to Richard Knowdell, author of Building a Career Development Program: Nine Steps for Effective Implementation, a top-down approach will help establish career development as a central feature of your organizational culture.
After conducting an evaluation, some organizations find that they already have the basic policies and procedures in place to support employee career development. In many cases, all it takes is a targeted effort to focus and refine existing procedures and establish employee career development as a central feature of your organizational culture. Before long, your staff — and your organization — will be able to reap the benefits of higher job satisfaction, better retention rates, and more long-term career commitment.