Why supporting the career development goals of your people is key to creating a meaningful employee experience

Fred Caballero

Senior Consultant, Access People Division

The pandemic has accelerated the change in the employee/employer dynamic. Employees’ career development priorities and expectations of their workplace and employer have shifted, with many of us demanding more from our place of work, its leaders and decision-makers.

HR is juggling all the traditional challenges along with these new expectations. Dropping the ball can mean failing to attract and retain the top talent or keep existing employees happy, motivated and productive.

This new dynamic presents an intersection of the personal and the professional. Expectations around remote, hybrid or flexible workplaces as well as a shift to a more digital culture with automated processes to free up traditional ‘admin’ time, has brought about the freedoms for people to consider what is important to them when it comes to ‘meaningful work’ and their career development goals.

Creating a meaningful employee experience will be key for HR leaders looking to respond to these new demands, but what does this really mean in practice when it comes to supporting the personal and professional development goals of your people?

Empowering employees to take control of their personal career development

Supporting the personal and professional goals of your employees means giving them the options and tools to explore and expand their horizons beyond what might be immediately obvious or available in their existing role. It may be that some people love what they do, and just want support in developing their expertise in a specific area to truly master their profession or to climb the management ladder. Others may be more interested in exploring new career opportunities internally that are better aligned to their personal interests, abilities or skills they've acquired working at your organisation.

Interestingly however, 46% of British employees have never had a ‘high quality’ career development conversation with a manager, while 99% of people who have received career coaching in some form saw immediate value in it.

Investing in people at this level is more focused on helping your employees become the best version of themselves, unlocking their true and full potential by providing opportunities to explore their own interests, and making their work more meaningful to them within the context of your organisation.

There is often a concern that helping your people with their career planning and development may leave you with recruitment gaps in other areas whilst you backfill roles or even fears that employees could use your business as a jumping-off platform to learn new skills that they can take with them to their next role.

However, these are all becoming more outdated attitudes towards (successful) people management. In reality, people are far more likely to stay and invest in the organisation they work for if they feel their own career development goals and personal and professional development have been acknowledged and invested in.

Access use Employee Success Plans to help drive these kinds of conversations with managers, supporting employees to grow, thrive and succeed. Part of this is our ‘Path to Great’ which gives managers a visual skills framework to help drive high performance and look at how employees engage on a number of levels. All of these things can be used to consider existing talent in new or emerging roles within the business.

Where does your company sit on the career development scale?

When it comes to career development for employees, it pays to have the right tools to help embed a positive career development culture. By using appropriate technology, artificial intelligence tools, and the latest approaches to eLearning, you can put your employees in control of their own professional development.

To help gauge where your company is in this area, let’s talk about an imaginary member of your organisation called Sue. Sue has an appraisal, a professional development review or informal job chat coming up with her manager. So, what’s her next step to prepare for this event?

Maybe she’s unfocused because she’s not clear about the value that she brings to the business. Perhaps she’s an aspiring manager who’s trying to excel during her first few weeks or months in a new role. Either way, what kind of environment, on-demand resources or tools are available to her right now to succeed with these career development goals?

Along with offering careers coaching and employee development plans, it’s also important to think about the characteristics of any high performer, because confidence and self-awareness are two key ingredients in the ability of an employee to reach their full potential.

Now, senior leaders and managers tend to love career coaching, not least because it’s easily within reach for them, more often than not. It impacts their careers positively and assists with their personal resilience, performance and fulfilment at work. Of course, that’s great for senior management and it can be expensive, which is one reason why it’s regularly reserved for the lucky few within the upper echelons of organisations. But, why shouldn't every single employee in any organisation benefit in this way?

Providing opportunities for all employees to develop and progress can be a significant string in your employee experience bow, as well as helping you plan more effectively for the future skills your organisation may need.

Unpicking the benefits of personal career development

The benefits of career coaching and development include: increased self-awareness, greater motivation to learn and a positive impact on confidence. These qualities make someone more curious about the kind of topics that can help them to grow, give them a better understanding of how to navigate political landscapes and encourage the ability to self-promote effectively. They also nurture the capacity to overcome business challenges and to network effectively, all surely strengths that every employee should be in a position to benefit from.

Only by putting your peoples’ individual aspirations and ambitions first, and at the heart of your business, will you provide an employee experience that inspires, engages and motivates them to deliver their best performance… and not find reason to seek the opportunity to do so elsewhere.

Our career development software helps make a measurable impact on the career development of employees at every single stage of their career journeys helping realise and reinforce employees’ self-awareness, motivation and learning. Accessed anywhere, anytime, and with a structured approach to career development, it’s akin to having your own careers coach in your pocket.