Organizational Wellness

How to Support Employee Career Development

Apr 18, 2023
Last Updated Nov 14, 2023

A great employee experience is essential for attracting — and retaining — top talent. That includes culture, perks, and investing in your team’s career development. A whopping 94% of employees say they would stay at their company longer if the organization invested in their careers.

Why is so career development important? In addition to improving employee engagement, playing an active role in your team’s professional growth can help you prevent skill gaps in your workforce. As a human resources professional, you’re in a prime position to support your employees’ career journeys.

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The Roles of HR in Career Development

As you assist employees with their career development plans, you’ll likely find yourself wearing a few different hats, including:

  • Advisor. You can help employees establish realistic career goals and set milestones based on your knowledge of the person, your company, and the job market.
  • Appraiser. Employees can benefit from your honest feedback about their performance. You can help them connect their strengths and weaknesses to a potential career path.
  • Advocate. You can connect employees to people and resources that further their career goals, whether that’s within the company or external networks.

How to Support Employee Career Development

There are lots of ways — big and small — for organizations to assist their team members’ career growth. Here are twelve actions HR can take to support progress.

  1. Make career planning part of onboarding

When an employee comes on board, you can talk with them about their long-term goals and objectives. This can help identify any skill gaps early on so you’re better prepared to support their development in the future, or identify potential growth that align with your organizational development.

  1. Offer learning opportunities

Investing in professional development is key to helping employees grow their skills and progress in their careers. Consider offering a range of options, like workshops, development programs, e-learning courses, or other career development opportunities.

You could invite speakers from inside or outside your organization for lunch-and-learns on public speaking or data analysis. You could also establish an employee newsletter with information about industry news and events, upcoming conferences or workshops, and expert advice.

  1. Provide mentorship programs

Consider setting up a formal mentorship program in your organization — studies have found that having a mentor can help improve career outcomes and job satisfaction. 

One of the great things about such programs is mentorship doesn’t only benefit the mentees. Ninety-five percent of mentors surveyed said they found the relationship useful.

If you’re not ready to implement a full-blown mentoring program, you could encourage employees to shadow other team members. Job shadowing can expose them to different career options or cross-training opportunities.

  1. Encourage networking

Networking is integral to career success, but it can be intimidating for some employees. Try to give your team the resources they need to build meaningful relationships with each other and within their industry. This is particularly important for remote teams, where impromptu hallway conversations aren’t possible. In today’s work environment, this could look like a Slack channel, a Facebook group, or in-person or virtual team gatherings.

  1. Ask for feedback

Regular check-ins with your employees can help you see how they’re progressing and what challenges they are facing. You can use this information to identify areas where you can provide more support or resources to help employees reach their goals.

  1. Reward achievements

Recognizing and celebrating people’s achievements is a great way to show your support. You could, for example, congratulate employees who have recently developed new skills or been promoted during team meetings. You might even interview them about what steps they took to reach their achievement and share it in your newsletter!

  1. Get managers involved

Encourage your managers to give regular feedback to their team members. Formal check-ins help, but not everything has to be as structured as an annual review. Employees are almost four times more likely to be engaged when they’ve received “meaningful feedback” in the last week, according to Gallup.

  1. Offer career counseling

Consider offering career counseling to your employees. This is an excellent opportunity for career exploration and for them to discuss their goals and competencies with somebody who has an industry-wide perspective. Career counselors can help employees identify a viable career path, learn what skill they still need to acquire, and create a plan to get there. 

  1. Hold career planning workshops

If you don’t have the resources to offer individual career counseling, you could host career planning workshops. Rather than providing individual advice, you can teach them how to set career development goals and find upskilling opportunities as a group.

  1. Encourage internal promotion

When a position opens up, you can invite employees to apply and help guide them through the process. This is great for employee retention and can shorten the hiring process (reducing your cost-per-hire). Internal hires are also more likely to hit the ground running since they know the organization, which is great for everyone involved. 

  1. Provide succession planning

Succession planning shows employees that you’re invested in their career development plan and that there’s a path to leadership within your company. Talking about potential future roles also gives them direction and motivation to seek out learning opportunities.

  1. Offer outplacement assistance

If you have the resources, try to help discharged employees land on their feet. You could advise them on what training they may want to seek, help them with their job search, or provide employment references. This sends a message to the rest of the staff that you genuinely are invested in their personal and professional wellbeing, facilitating a healthy culture that can make you more attractive to future hires.

Invest in Employees’ Professional and Personal Wellbeing

Offering career development support is just one piece of a comprehensive benefits package. By investing in your team’s professional and personal wellbeing, you can increase employee engagement and create a positive company culture — in short, a place where people want to work. 

Sixty-two percent of workers identify wellbeing as a deciding factor when considering a new job, and 70% of employees enrolled in a workplace wellness program report higher job satisfaction.

Want to learn more about incorporating a wellness program into your company’s benefits package? Speak to a Wellhub wellbeing specialist today.

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Wellhub Editorial Team

The Wellhub Editorial Team empowers HR leaders to support worker wellbeing. Our original research, trend analyses, and helpful how-tos provide the tools they need to improve workforce wellness in today's fast-shifting professional landscape.


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