While career development and growth of individual employees are an indispensable part of the philosophy of HR management, the challenges faced by organizations in the last few years have pushed it lower on the priority list.
The benefits of investing in employee career development and supporting them in achieving these goals are well-documented; the future of HR is set to make employee career progression a vital part of the function.
Supporting employees in setting career development goals and journey indicates sincerity and values their contribution towards helping the organization grow. Career planning and development also provides HR with an opportunity to align organizational and individual employee goals and timely identify any sidelining gaps between the two. These synergies help both the employee and the employer, create realistic future plans, identify individual and collective weaknesses, increase motivation and productivity, and eventually leads to higher retention of top talent.
Let us take a look at how HR will help employees build sustainable careers in the future:
If there’s one thing that HR needs to do to help employees build a stable and durable career, it is to equip them with skills and help them embrace continuous learning. There is no denying that the skill requirement by businesses is changing rapidly, and a significant portion of the workforce might be rendered unemployable in the near future. This naturally creates a challenge, and an opportunity, for HR to provide the right training in technical and soft skills. HR must not get caught up in job titles, remunerations, or numbers, and consider helping employees learn new skills as a mandatory transitory exercise into the future of work. The end goal is to help each employee identify their strengths, work upon their weakness, and make changes to the overall career direction.
Facilitate lateral movement
As a direct consequence of the above, HR will also be expected to build dedicated programs that facilitate lateral movement, job rotation, cross-training, mentoring, and transfers within the organizations based on the right skill set and competency. Besides, to conduct regular skill and competency assessments, HR will also have to lead focused career development discussions with employees to help them understand current opportunities within the organizations, provide career-related feedback and advice, and relate current performance and challenges to future potential in realistic ways. These strategies will also arise in response to higher attrition levels and a dearth of quality talent. Lateral movement and intra-organization transfers will not only make it easier for organizations to train willing talent as required but also ensure that the employees continue to fit in culturally.
Help employees re-enter the workforce
The next component of helping employees in career planning will be re-entry programs for employees on breaks. In a talent-starved market, employers are beginning to see the benefit of allowing employees to go on sabbaticals for personal or learning purposes and assuring them of re-joining the organization. While several organizations have ‘Back-to-Work’ programs and policies for women, the ambit needs to be increased to all employees who wish to take a break. Naturally, HR will have to ensure that employees going on breaks return to the organization once they are ready to re-join the workforce. This includes building and maintaining communication channels once they have left, supporting them during their sabbatical, and helping them adjust to the changes once they are back. Having formal re-entry programs in place will secure employment for talented and willing individuals after a sabbatical, but also ensure a diverse workforce.
To excel in this role, HR leaders and professionals must realize that their role goes beyond supporting employees in their current position. They must identify that helping employees navigate their career is not only a way to demonstrate commitment, but also an opportunity to establish an ongoing dialogue with the workforce. The underlying questions that can help HR professionals undertake meaningful career development for their employees might seem trivial or simplistic. However, they offer profound insights into how the people working in the organization are thinking. To help businesses thrive in the future and ensure that they enjoy recurring talent benefits, HR leaders must begin investing in their people today and ensure that they are poised to succeed in their respective careers.