5 reasons why you need to prioritise employee career development in summary:

  • With unfavourable economic conditions stunting recruitment efforts and talent scarce, businesses and their HR teams must turn to prioritising employee learning and career development
  • Supporting employee career development builds commitment and engagement within a workforce, can uncover hidden potential and help companies build the skills they need for the future.
  • Supporting learning and career development can also help attract talent to businesses and aid succession planning – both vital for sustained growth.

How much support does your company give to employee career development?

You may think that’s an odd question to be asking – especially given the widespread view that the ‘job for life’ is a thing of the past, and traditional career paths are no more. However, a recent survey found that nearly one in three workplaces in the UK don’t provide any opportunities for their employees to learn new skills at all – and that seems rather odd.

employee development

Even though employers can’t make guaranteed, long-term commitments to their employee’s career development, or even predict the skills they’ll need for the future, they still have much to gain from supporting employees with their career development – and with good reason…

Talent scarcity and unfavourable economic conditions are neutralising business growth

The UK’s workforce is shrinking and talent is becoming increasingly scarce. So much so, talent scarcity  is considered an even bigger risk to businesses in 2024 than crippling cyber attacks or data breaches.

In addition, with the economy still in flux, many companies are reigning in their recruitment efforts for permanent and temporary staff. This means whilst they may have skill and experience gaps in their workforce, a weak economic outlook is holding them back from hiring

So, a jobs market devoid of in-demand skills and talent, and companies unable – or unwilling – to recruit the people they need to plug their own gaps to grow. Not exactly an ideal situation, is it?

Luckily however, there is a solution…

Supporting learning and employee career development needs to be a priority for HR teams

Prioritising learning and employee career development must be imperative for HR teams due to its multifaceted impact on organisational success. It doesn’t just potentially solve the issues of talent scarcity or expensive recruitment efforts… It also offers a number of other huge benefits.

Here are five reasons why companies and their HR teams should take an active role in helping their employees develop their careers:

Supporting employee career development builds commitment and engagement

A report by recruitment specialists Robert Walters, focusing on attracting and retaining Millennial workers, showed that 68% of those surveyed cited a clear path to grow in their role as the most important factor and motivator in keeping them engaged.

They’re also less likely to jump ship. Research has shown a strong correlation between people’s perceptions of their opportunities for career growth and intent to stay with their employer. Employees may no longer expect their company to manage their career for them. But, they do like to feel the business is at least taking an interest.

Also, when people can see the organisation is willing to invest in their development they are much more likely to be engaged. They’ll also likely be more enthusiastic participants in their work and willing to go the extra mile when needed.

With over two thirds of L&D professionals saying training has positive impact on business revenue, supporting employee career devlepment can go a long way to boosting that all-important productivity.

It uncovers hidden potential

Career conversations can often have surprising results. If managers have open honest dialogue with their teams, they may find people have ambitions they previously hadn’t voiced or hidden skills and talents they are not using in their current role.

With many companies already struggling to fill key roles, now is the ideal time to find out what latent talents may be available within the business. It’s also the perfect opportunity to discover how individual aspirations can best be matched with corporate priorities.

It helps the business develop skills for the future

One of the biggest challenges organisations face is operating in an uncertain, volatile climate where the rules of the game can change overnight. New competitors can emerge, technology develops and disrupts the way services are delivered, customers drive demand for new products…. What this means is the skills the organisation has today are not necessarily the ones they will need tomorrow.

Employees of the future will need to have highly developed generic skill sets – project management, problem solving, the ability to analyse complex data alongside soft skills – that can be applied in different circumstances. If organisations want their people to be adaptable, they need to help them develop these competencies.

It supports succession planning

Formal career plans no longer exist in the way they used to – and when the game is changing so quickly, it can be difficult to plan for succession next year yet alone in five years’ time. However, that doesn’t mean that HR teams should give up on succession planning altogether.

Having regular conversations about people’s aspirations and investing in their development will give organisations at least a fighting chance of having the right people in the right place at the right time. Plus, today’s HR software platforms – especially ones with integrated performance management and career and succession planning modules make visualising and acting on performance and potential data much simpler, too.

The most productive conversations about careers are those that centre around the kind of work people find most stimulating, the skills they’d like to develop and where their future interests lie. Being armed with this knowledge keeps businesses ‘nimble’ and ready to respond to whatever’s around the corner.

It helps to attract new talent

Lastly, nurturing internal talent can help reduce the costs of external hiring. This is because you’ll be more likely to fill vacancies with current staff, who’ll already understand the organisation and its values. Of course, sometimes recruiting talent from elsewhere is necessary, so it’s important to position your company as a desirable employer.

People talk – and word will soon get around that your business is one that takes developing its people seriously. Employees will often share their experiences online: whether that’s on Glassdoor or on social media. So, make sure you demonstrate how your business nurtures talent and supports the career aspirations of its people. You might just find attracting top talent that little bit easier!


Author bio

Paul Bauer is the Head of Content at Cezanne HR. He’s worked within the employee benefits, engagement and HR sectors for over four years, and has won multiple industry awards for his work.

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