Is your organisation committed to employee development? A ‘culture of career’ is a philosophy of development that affects every aspect of the workplace from who is hired, to how they are developed and managed. The term ‘career-ladder’ is edging towards the end of its shelf-life and tomorrow’s workers are now thinking about their careers in terms of waves, not ladders. With that in mind, businesses need to start having regular career conversation more than ever to understand what their employees want from their career.

Businesses need to change their approach to supporting employees by developing a robust career conversation process, but according to our research less than a third (31 percent) of employees feel confident in their ability to initiate such conversations. It is therefore down to employers to build a ‘culture of career’ whereby managers and employees both feel confident and able to initiate conversations around careers.

Not only will this have a positive impact on employee engagement, but it could also help to solve the much talked about ‘skills shortage’ that many organisations are facing. Below, I explain in detail the tools, resource and support that employers need to develop a culture of career and how to help staff develop within the organisation.
Why career conversations are key to employee development


A ‘culture of career’ should have a framework which employees can associate with and relate back to their day-to-day role in the business. Without offering a pathway for employees to align their goals to (that also fits with current and future business requirements), employers risk their staff losing sight of their position within the company and where they are heading. This can be avoided by understanding the direction employees want their career to take. Having regular career conversations will help managers work with employees to identify what steps they need to take to reach their career goals.

One of the most instrumental parts to employees achieving their goals and creating a ‘culture of career’ is for individuals to take on a certain level of responsibility. It’s important when identifying career development goals to encourage employees to take ownership for their success and career development. Managers can play a key part in helping employees reach their goals by encouraging employees to establish their own personal brand.
In our experience, the concept of personal branding can play a critical role in not only furthering employee’s recognition within the organisation, but also in their career development. A personal brand can be conveyed, in person, online or through the work they do. Building a personal brand, sharing it with managers and colleagues for feedback, and taking ownership for going above and beyond of what’s expected demonstrates an employee’s interest in developing their career. A personal brand also communicates an employee’s intentions to managers and the organisation as a whole, serving as a testament to their commitment of continually adding value to the business.

What else can companies do to build a culture of career?

Employers should actively facilitate a learning and development journey that is a visible aspect of the organisation. To do this, leaders, managers and HR professionals need to consult employees and develop a blended learning approach that meets both their needs and the businesses. It might be the case that employees would benefit from one-to-one coaching mixed with online training. Doing so will help employees gain knowledge of the businesses and offer them the opportunity to learn new skills that can be applied to their work, empowering them to achieve better results.

Another step businesses can take to build a ‘culture of career’ is to embrace the movement of skills internally. One of the many reasons professionals look to change jobs is because of the concern that their opportunity to progress might be limited if they are labelled as only being able to do one role. HR leaders need to increasingly mobilise talent, within (or outside of) the company, to support business growth. Investing in embedding a proactive and effective culture of career mobility can make a significant difference to employee performance and the businesses effectiveness which in turn will impact business results positively. In order to create a strategic vision for career mobility, leaders at all levels need to have regular career conversations with employees to understand their expectations and motivations.

Notably the key driver to allow a ‘culture of career’ to enable employees to develop is improving and increasing communication lines between employees, HR and line managers. Without this, there is a risk to businesses that highly skilled employees will leave in search of other opportunities that offer the career development that they are after. That said, whether employees leave or stay with an organisation, having open and honest discussions around careers can help to better prepare businesses for the future.

Robert joined the HRreview editorial team in October 2015. After graduating from the University of Salford in 2009 with a BA in Politics, Robert has spent several years working in print and online journalism in Manchester and London. In the past he has been part of editorial teams at Flux Magazine, Mondo*Arc Magazine and The Marine Professional.