Internal career development
Prepare younger staff for baby boomer exodus
THE popular old saying, “why wait till Christmas?” is really a poke at someone who procrastinates in their decision making and/or is slow to act. While the comment might be directed to individuals, the same holds true for organizations, especially when it comes to adapting to changing business trends.
For instance, everyone knows that baby boomer employees are going to start leaving the workforce in droves, but how many organizations are truly preparing for this event? My experience suggests that many are simply “waiting for Christmas!”
In addition to providing leadership training programs, one of the best-practice HR strategies to prepare for an event such as a baby boomer exodus is to initiate an internal career development program. These programs help employees to understand their strengths and skills as well as developing a strong sense of personal selfesteem. This in turn assists with internal mobility because as employee confidence increases, they are more likely to take an interest in applying for and/or training for different jobs.
An internal career development program is also valuable for mature workers who are experiencing a bit of a lull in their career as well as for those baby boomers themselves. After all, many baby boomers might find the option of part-time work meets their career goals. But no matter what, when employees know and understand themselves better and feel valued and invigorated, everyone wins.
For instance, employees can envision different opportunities for career movement and/or semi-retirement while the employer benefits from higher levels of alignment between employee/employer objectives, resulting in employee job satisfaction, engagement, productivity and ultimately, employee retention.
What should an internal career development program look like? What topics and content would be beneficial? How should it be delivered and when?
First of all, an internal career development program should be part and parcel of your regular training programs rather than implementing something at the first sign of a crisis. At the same time, employers and their senior executives must dispel the old myth that many harbour that, if you train employees they’ll leave. This simply isn’t true. Instead, senior leaders need to see the program as providing overall value for both parties and be seen to support it.
A best-practice program begins with helping employees understand that career development is a partnership between the employee and employer but that ultimately, each person is responsible for their own career. As well, the program helps participants to understand how their work is related to the development of their personal identity. Every employee comes to the workplace with certain expectations and bonds with the employer through a so-called psychological contract. It is these expectations of work that set the tone for achieving job satisfaction and continues to affect the level of employee engagement.
Participants then take a journey through marketplace trends so that they understand how global factors affect industry sectors, job creation and job stability. Employees who understand the big picture are better able to deal with economic and job market instability and can plan their career journey so that their skills are always current and marketable.
An important part of any career development program is helping participants to better understand themselves. Employees need to know how personality and communication style affects career choice.