Career Progression

Industry Insights / 12th Mar 2020

Creating career progression opportunities for your team

Career progression and personal development is certainly something many candidates look for when job hunting, and nearly always come up for discussion at interviews. It is often rated very highly on employee job satisfaction lists. Employees place a big emphasis on the opportunity to grow and develop both skills and a career whilst in a job.

Employers need to be prepared when development is one of your employees’ most significant expectations.

A company providing the right employee training, development, education and opportunity for promotion provides big payoffs for the employer in increased productivity, knowledge, loyalty, wellness and contribution from employees. Let’s look at some ways this can be done.

A two-way process

According to the UK Working Lives Survey 2019 carried out by the CIPD (the UK professional body for HR and people development) around half of workers consider their job to offer good opportunities to develop their skills, but only three in ten workers see this translate to good prospects for career advancement.

Employers need to encourage employees to broaden their short-term thinking. As employees are promoted up the organization chart, fewer jobs become available, yet continuing to grow skills and experience should still be a priority for people obtaining value from and adding value to their career.

Whilst many companies operate a staff appraisal system (with annual and mid-term reviews), a manager needs to make catch ups with staff a frequent thing. This time should not be a meeting about current work and projects, instead it should specifically be for discussing development and what an employee might be needing at that time and what an employer can offer. The employee also needs to know that the manager has an ‘open-door’ policy about this topic at any time. A manager sending a simple email to ask how they are doing or an invite for a coffee goes a long way.

Set goals and create a plan to achieve them

People who are the most successful and satisfied in their careers have proactively determined what they want from work. Develop a timeline, including milestones with your staff. Some companies have formal programs to help employees develop their careers. In others, both employees and managers need to informally pursue career development. A written plan can help each employee take charge of what is most important to his or her fulfilment and success. Otherwise without a recorded plan, there is no benchmark to measure progress.

Remember every employee in every organisation has different needs for training, and how they can learn most successfully, and each will have different expectations from developmental opportunities. However, the majority of employees expect an investment in their long-term development.

Ensuring that any training is also beneficial to an organisation

With monetary investment inevitably happening for employee development, organisations need to make certain that their investments are wise. Some companies are increasingly asking for monetary justification that the developmental opportunities provided for employees produce results. You may need to consider building in some demonstration of the training in the written plan as outlined above.


Can you offer your employees one or more of the following?

  • Job shadowing other employees in your company to learn about different jobs. This can broaden skills.
  • Allow them to explore lateral moves to deepen their experience? It’s easy to get stuck in a rut. Being able to handle multiple jobs can add variety and give employees a fresh challenge.
  • Classes and training sessions increase knowledge. As a company, the person responsible for HR needs to stay up to date on the professions within the company and also the industry being worked in. Training in these areas is often overlooked but is just as important as personal development opportunities.
  • Offer a coaching and/or mentoring scheme to your employees. Perhaps even let the employee come up with some ideas about who they would like to learn from. Leaning on someone else’s experience is a great way to gain knowledge and introduce them to other opportunities.

Sending an employee off for a seminar or workshop is only one of many options that exist now. When you think about education, training, and employee development, options exist externally, internally, and online. However, as an employer do not forget that on the job training and learning is still one of the most fruitful.

For recruiting, retention, and managing change and continuous improvement, a company should try and adopt some of these practices.


  • Seminars and workshops come in every possible variety, available in person and online
  • Universities are offering evening and weekend courses – could a company provide the tuition?
  • Offering membership to a professional body (for example the Chartered Institute of Marketing for marketeers) as an employee would receive many perks from this membership, including further discounted training and conferences


  • Onsite seminars and classes
  • Coaching and mentoring schemes
  • Create a learning environment, communicate the expectation of ongoing learning (and maybe even a rotating job swap scheme for those interested)
  • Enable flexible working so employees can attend classes and have time to do additional study or training
  • Make time in the working week for employees to focus on their development (it shouldn’t be an after-thought or forgotten about as the day job gets busy)
  • Be creative to provide diverse opportunities for each individual – everyone is different

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