Career Development is not a one-shot training program or career-planning workshop. Rather, it is an ongoing planned and formalized attempt that identifies people as an important organizational resource. The companies that had the most success with career development are those that have integrated with other Human Resource Management programs, such as performance appraisal and training. Recent studies of organizational career development have identified the following companies as outstanding or innovative in this area:
3M has actively addressed its employees’ career development needs since the mid 1980s. While the company has historically focused more on appraisal and HR planning, it is now trying, with its relatively new career resources department to strike a better balance between organizational and employee needs. The new department systemizes and coordinates career development through such programs as supervisor and employee workshops, career counseling, and relocations for dual-career couples.
Sun Microsystems found that career concerns can be a great source of stress for employees. To combat this problem, Sun now offers every employee two hours of free career counseling per year. The company also encourages employees to think of themselves as “self-employed” within the organization, and to pursue all opportunities to advance their careers.
The English company Lex Service has banded together with other English firms to create a development program that challenges their senior managers. Managers from similar functional areas regularly get together to share their experiences. One manager presents a description of what he or she is attempting to accomplish in his or her organization, and the rest of the group provides feedback and shares relevant experiences with the goal of helping the speaker set up an action plan.
Today’s organizations must make career development a key business strategy if it intends to survive in an increasingly competitive and global business environment. In the information age, companies will compete more on their worker’s knowledge, skill, and innovation levels than on the basis of labour costs or manufacturing capacity. Because career development plays a central role in ensuring a competitive work force, it cannot be a low-priority program offered only during good economic times.