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Understanding Career Development Plan

How Good Career Development Plans Help Organizations Attract and Retain Top Talent

One of the most important qualities an employee looks for in an organization is how it approaches career development for employees at all levels.

According to LinkedIn, employees who change positions within their organization tend to stay longer regardless of whether it is a linear move or a formal promotion. An employee whose career remains stagnant for three years has only a 45% chance of staying with the company. On the other hand, an employee who changes position laterally in that time has a 65% likelihood of remaining in the organization. That likelihood increases to 70% if the person is promoted.

An organization needs development plans that are clearly defined and clearly articulated to help support its employees as they look to build their careers.

What Are Career Development Plans?

A functioning and reliable career development plan must do more than just outline an employee’s progression during their time with a company. It must also have clearly defined timeframes or milestones supported by actionable items the employee can work toward. While a career development plan may be subject to change over time, clear communication at every stage is essential.

Also essential: including the employee in the plan development! Employers need to ensure that they understand how their team members want to grow and where their interests lie in order to develop plans that not only meet the needs of the organization, but also the needs of the employee.

While the typical framework of a career development plan is based on the position, organizational structure, and opportunities within the company, each employee’s path for growth must align with their own personal short- and long-term goals and the company’s. It means that the milestones laid out in your employees’ career development plans, including training, new skill acquisition, and position changes, should reflect a parallel strategy to the milestones for the business as a whole.

What Do Career Development Plans Include?

Although career development plans can vary widely depending on the specifics of each industry, company, or even job level, it is important to look into the fundamental items included. This will help establish a wireframe that can be modified to fit any career path or corporate structure.

A career plan typically includes the following:

  • Current position – This will serve as the baseline for the development plan and provide insights into the individual’s skills at this level.
  • Current achievements – Apart from understanding the basics of the individual’s current position, looking into the existing achievements will help inform the plan’s direction and the employee’s readiness to take the next steps.
  • Development needs – These are the needs that the organization will help fill. This can be a list of training courses, skill acquisitions, or areas for improvement. As a general rule for these plans, the more specific the information, the more helpful it can be.
  • Professional goals – An employee’s goals within an organization can be based on several considerations, including their personal preferences, skill level, and achievements. Having a well-defined aim will be the basis of the plan’s general direction.
  • Actionable steps – Alongside professional goals, the plan must include concrete, actionable items, complete with timelines and milestone objectives. These will help guide the employee in their development path and serve as an assessment tool during the process.

What Are Career Development Plans For?

Well-defined career development plans offer employees and organizations several benefits, including:

  • Engagement – Employees who understand the progression of their careers within an organization tend to be more engaged with their work and workplace. They perform better and meet their targets. According to Indeed, employees who are invested in their roles feel happier when they make contributions to the organization.
  • Retention – According to the Society for Human Resource Management, when employee perceptions of career development opportunities are managed correctly, employees become more loyal to their organizations. Clear and identifiable career development plans are essential for any retention strategy, especially for key employees.
  • Recruitment – Organizations that include career development plans as a central part of their employee value proposition are more likely to attract top talent who are motivated by advancement. Remember, candidates consider organizations not just for their current role but also for the potential career growth and development in their field.

At the end of the day, a career development plan that caters to the needs of the individual will encourage them to move forward in their career and can be an effective tool to support your recruitment and retention strategies.

DRiWaterstone Human Capital is an industry leader in helping organizations recruit and retain top talent through our services rooted in culture-building and people-focused management. For more information on career development plans and other related subjects, contact our team.

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Talent acquisition has been front and centre in conversations about today’s employee-driven labour market. But attracting top talent is only part of the equation. Companies looking to stay ahead in today’s competitive market also need to have a comprehensive retention strategy in place.

The costs of employee turnover can be high (according to one article at Psychometrics.com, up to 20% of salary for mid-level employees and as high as 213% of salary for C-Suite leaders) making a strong retention strategy vital.

Tools for employee retention

In our retained executive search clients program, we’ve found that regular and transparent communication, pulse surveys, learning and development plans, total rewards packages, and meaningful recognition are now table stakes for any employee retention strategy. Companies looking to stand out from the crowd are adding to their retention toolkits – flexible work schedules, work from anywhere policies, expanded benefits programs and more.

One tactic that has grown in popularity is the stay interview – it’s an important tool that competitive companies today are using to measure employee engagement and improve employee retention.

Stay interviews let leaders:

  1. determine how their team is feeling about the company and its culture,
  2. get a sense for how individuals feel about their role, their impact on the company and its goals, and whether they have the tools they need to be successful,
  3. talk with their team members about road blocks and challenges, and to identify any issues that may cause a high performer to self-select out of their role or out of the company, and
  4. recognize and celebrate successes, and demonstrate to team members that their leaders want to help them excel.

Conducting a successful stay interview

Successful stay interviews start with open communication. Make sure your team members understand the purpose of your conversation in advance, and encourage them to be open and honest in their answers. You’ll also want to make sure they understand how feedback will be used and what next steps will be (if any).

Here are 10 stay interview questions that can help you kick-start your conversation:

  • What do you look forward to at work every day?
  • What makes you feel proud to work here?
  • What do you like least about working here?
  • What keeps you working here?
  • What skills and strengths do you have that are not being fully utilized here?
  • What do you think about how employees are recognized and valued here?
  • How do you like to be recognized?
  • If you could change one thing about your job, team, or company, what would it be?
  • What might tempt you to leave?
  • What can I/we do to make your experience here better?


Stay interviews help leaders put their people – and culture – first. They’re an excellent tool to support employee recognition and, just as importantly, employee retention.

Finding it difficult to recruit and retain top talent in today’s work environment? DRiWaterstone Human Capital can help. Book a meeting with our team to talk about your needs.

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