Economic pressures and technological transformation are fueling change. Businesses can’t afford to stand still. To meet the challenges posed by rapid change, organizations need to encourage and facilitate the progression and development of their people. This should be an obvious win-win: opportunities for career development benefit both the organization and its staff.
Progressing from onboarding to performing
As businesses invest in people so its people invest in the business. That’s why onboarding is such a critical phase in the development of employees. It’s not just about preparing them for their new role, it’s about showing them pathways to progression. Onboarding is a time when many employees decide whether their future lies with your business. Many new hires who quit within the first six months of taking up a job cite a poor onboarding experience as the reason.
Even if you’ve got onboarding right, you need to continue to create opportunities for employees to progress their careers. By putting the right support in place, businesses can engage and motivate employees. From their perspective, staff need to be able to map out their future and be ready and confident to take on new roles and responsibilities as opportunities arise.
Offering and facilitating progression brings considerable benefits to the organization, helping to retain and grow your own talent rather than buy it in from outside. Staff retention saves costs and helps maintain levels of performance. Having clearly defined paths to progression also keeps people invested in the business.
By setting employees realizable goals and giving them the means to attain them, backed by a system of recognition and rewards, you help keep them motivated. Progression planning helps you to realize potential and develop leaders and a culture of continuous development lets you address skills gaps and upskill from within. This is the ideal picture. But, to provide a system that is fit for the purpose of developing people, we need to recognize the realities of career development today.
Changing face of career development
The days of a job for life with a well-defined career path are truly gone. Organizations have flattened their structures removing many obvious steps to advancement. Contract working and outsourcing have changed the composition of the workforce. Automation has eliminated some jobs, transformed others, and reconfigured the way we do business. An increase in remote working, triggered in part by the pandemic, has led to a loosening of the ties between an organization and its staff.
Instead of a single career ladder, we have a multilinear approach to working life. It’s been reported that 45% of college graduates will only spend two years or less in a job and a quarter of workers will have had five jobs by the time they reach 35. And, with no clear path ahead in an organization, people are more willing to switch jobs to find better opportunities and a better salary. Shortages in key skills only exacerbate this tendency to job hop.
Career development in an unstable environment
So, how do progression and development work in a world of increased employee mobility? It’s clear that people are ready to switch jobs multiple times to further their development. This fact only underlines the necessity of having a clear program for progression and development: to attract talent and develop and keep your own people. Indeed, the demand for new skills creates an opportunity to provide upskilling and reskilling in-house so that you retain existing staff and allow them to take on new roles and learn new skills.
With remote workers, who could easily work for other organizations without moving location, you need to reach out and extend to them the same opportunities as those working in the office. That could involve working in a new role, with a new team, taking on a leadership role, or increased remuneration for improved performance or a new job.
Above all, organizations need to be serious and explicit that career and people development is part of their ethos and culture and tied to employee welfare and performance. Even if you can’t hold on to people for life, offering them the chance to progress and develop is critical to getting the best out of them for the time they are with you. A clear policy of continuous development is mutually beneficial. It creates a virtuous upward spiral as people find a reason to stay, develop new skills, adopt new roles, and perform better.
Ways of aiding progression and development
The picture of career progression is no longer clear-cut, with a single defined pathway. So we need to create a learning and development environment that takes account of the disruption to job roles and career opportunities and responds to the challenges.
- Make learning continuous: Learning, like development, has to be a continuous process. Training and learning programs are integral to sustaining employee development, but they need to be agile, responsive and easy to adapt. By making access to digital learning available in the workflow you reinforce the impression that learning while working is vital to performing well. You also promote the idea that the organization is serious about developing its people.
- Make learning about performing: As well as making learning continuous you need to prioritize reskilling and performing over the acquisition of skills for their own sake. This involves making learning personal and relevant to an individual’s needs to give it a greater impact. Offering reskilling and upskilling opportunities demonstrates a commitment to a proactive and future-proofing approach to development.
- Unlock potential: Success in training depends largely on the motivation of people to learn. Adopting a learner-centric, demand-led approach to training means placing opportunity, motivation, and responsibility in the hands of individuals who will then be more engaged with the training they access.
- Increase access: To make learning continuous it must be accessible. Firstly, this means providing access to it from employees’ devices through network and mobile connectivity. That way they have access to critical information and training resources no matter where they are and at the time of their choosing. Secondly, accessibility applies to the way the training is packaged and formatted. Creating development training in a variety of formats from video to blogs, from specialist modules to quick-to-digest chunks of microlearning, provides choice and accommodates employees’ learning preferences.
- Track and identify learning needs: Employing a Learning Management System allows you to track training and performance. The LMS can generate reports and display dashboards so that managers and employees can view available training, track progress, and identify potential skills gaps.
- Create development pathways: In the absence of a fixed career ladder, you’ll need to create development pathways. These personalized learning paths allow employees to keep learning and progressing. Digital badges and certificates can be awarded on reaching milestones and as recognition for acquiring new skills. These awards can be stored in and accessed from an ePortfolio that provides a formal, transferable record of employee attainment, progress, and development.
- Create a CPD program: Creating your own Continuing Professional Development program or subscribing to an industry-backed scheme signals that you’re serious about the progression and development of your people. CPD provides a formal standard by which to recognize achievement and progress. It incentivizes people to keep up their skills and acquire new ones. CPD programs emphasize an organization’s commitment to a policy of continuous learning.
- Develop a leadership program: Progression and development includes accepting new responsibilities. In a volatile labor market, it makes sense to develop leadership pipelines to recognize new talent and bring it to the fore as others move on. A leadership training program can support people as they move into new management and team-lead positions.
Continuous learning: the key to progression and development
In today’s climate businesses have to keep on the move. And, as the way you do business changes, you need to have your people with you. That means implementing a clear program for progression and development. Businesses that don’t risk losing key assets. While those that do attract and retain talent and continue to operate with maximum performance.
Making continuous learning possible by deploying digital content via a Learning Management System as part of a CPD program ensures you get the greatest potential out of your people and positions your organization to meet the challenges ahead.
Get in touch to find out how Learning Pool can help you with this process.
Patricia has been with Learning Pool since 2015, working within the Service Delivery team, having previously worked within the Financial Services and Telecommunications industries.
Key projects supported and delivered by Patricia include a number of cross-functional internal projects such as LMS upgrades and customer migration projects.
Patricia is an effective communicator who is skilled in change and project management who will work with your organisation with an open, enthusiastic and hands-on approach.
In her spare time, Patricia likes to spend time with her family and when she gets a chance, get out for a run with her running group.