Career Development Software and Tools: Technology Trends

September 07, 2006
Organizations around the globe are increasingly providing career development support to their employees. By extending this commitment, such organizations are reaping the benefits of improved employee retention, enhanced talent management and heightened visibility as "employers of choice."

To effectively implement career development initiatives, best in class companies rely upon technology. Self-assessment tools, offered by the organization, provide employees with a deeper understanding of themselves. This deeper, personal understanding, overflows into the employee's work life, opening their eyes and minds to the various opportunities available, right there with their current employer . . . the end result - two beneficiaries: the employee AND the employer.

Organizations Need to Offer Career Development Programs to Remain Competitive


What research is available supporting the business case for company-supported, internal career development programs?

A recent survey of more than 7,000 employers found that:
  • 71% of employers providing a career management program believe it has improved their ability to attract and retain employees (The Hudson Report: Employment and HR Trends, September 2006).
How many organizations actually offer formal career development programs?

This same study found that 51% of the 7,000 employers surveyed offer their staff access to career management programs.

Another study of 117 organisations in the UK, reports that:
  • 48% of organisations in the private and public sectors offer systematic career planning
  • 23% of charities offer formalized career planning.

Technology Propels Employee Self-Assessments


The cornerstone of career development programs are automated self-assessments. Insala's Career Development Software enables employees to self assess their interests, personalities, values, skills and reality. Additionally, it measures gaps and tracks development while employing powerful coaching tools for managers and HR leaders.

"Effective career management programs are characterised by the ability to stretch employees to increase self-awareness, develop career goals and plan a strategy, while carefully aligning this with the organisational culture and systems," according to Craig Donaldson, author of Talent Demands Career Management.

A recent Human Capital Management survey found that 91% of 96 global HR professionals use self and manager assessments as the most common measurement tool for evaluating talent in their organizations. Additionally only 9% of respondents considered these assessments inaccurate. Technology is increasingly being utilized to implement such assessments.

Technology Propels Career Pathing


The 2006 Hudson Report: Employment and HR Trends found that career management programs are most effective when built on a competency framework that enables both the organization and its employees to define and map roles.

Providing employees with information on internal career options enables them to better prepare themselves for job changes that will benefit themselves and the organization. Such information often consists of job descriptions, job families and required skills/competencies. Internal job changes are no longer limited to promotions, but many organizations are realizing the benefits of defining lateral moves as well.

Interestingly though, many organizations are unable to easily provide this type of information to their employees. Research conducted in more than 50 large corporations, indicated that most corporations are not able to provide a clear rationale or template for job moves ("Roadmaps for Developing General Managers: the Experience of a Healthcare Giant").

The use of technology to automate this information is increasingly being used and provides the backbone data for career development programs, as well as succession planning activities.

Key Ingredients of Effective Career Development Programs


Craig Donaldson, author of Talent Demands Career Management identifies the following as key components of an effective career management program:
  • Senior level sponsorship and a supportive organisational culture that encourages internal mobility and fosters trust
  • Deploying career coaches and providing career management assessment tools to enable individuals to meet specific measurable and realistic career goals that align with their life stage, lifestyle and skill set
  • Mechanisms that enable a career management culture within the organisation, including training managers on how to have effective ongoing career discussions with their employees

Career Development Systems Linked to Company Performance


So what are the benefits of career development systems? Employee retention is an obvious one, along with an empowered workforce. Research does suggest that the existence of formal employee advancement plans is linked to business performance. Consider the following:
  • A study of more than 100 companies found that organizations consistently using a formal process to help workers advance, are also consistently high-performing firms, as measured by total shareholder return. (Hewitt Associates, November 2003).

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