The Role of Career Development in Improving Organizational Effectiveness and Employee Development Robert C. Merchant, Jr. Abstract Today's employees are more career conscious then ever. They are demanding more in terms of personal growth and development. Organizations that fail to allow employees to meet their individual needs will be losing valued employees. This paper will examine the role and importance of Career Development Programs in developing and retaining employees. A Career Development Program seeks to match to needs of the employee with those of the organization with the major components being counseling and training. Counseling provides employees with the opportunity to define career goals and to create plans within the context of organizational realities. Training allows the employee to develop and acquire knowledge, skills and abilities required to enhance his/her current job and prepares them for future job opportunities. As we approach the 21st Century, it is essential that organizations place a high value on career development. This will allow employees to fulfill their career needs, and organizations will benefit by retaining a greater number of their competent and qualified employees. Introduction Overview Many organizations are faced with the problem of retaining employees. It is expensive to replace employees who leave for greener pastures or are lured away by other organizations. New employees have to be recruited, selected, oriented and trained. In fact, it is estimated that it costs an organization approximately 1½ times the salary of the vacated position to replace an employee. Employee turnover can have a demoralizing effect on an organization, and it may also severely impact the overall efficiency of the organization. This becomes even more critical in organizations which are service-oriented, i.e. law enforcement, firefighters, etc., and require highly developed skills and competencies. Unfortunately, there is no single answer that best addresses the issue of employee retention. However, a number of organizations have responded to this issue by implementing Career Development Programs in the workplace. These programs teach employees how to work toward their own goals while continuing to do productive work for the organization. Organizations with such programs claim they retain a greater number of employees. Clearly, career development has evolved from an isolated tool for individual growth to a key strategic asset for many far-sighted organizations. Once left exclusively to the individual employee's own initiative, organizations have taken a more active role in their employees' careers through Career Development Programs. Traditionally, it has been assumed that every employee wants, or should want, the same thing in a career, usually a direct path up the organizational ladder (Fink, 1992). However, career development is not about "getting ahead", but rather about getting to be the best an individual can be and finding a place in an organization where they can express excellence and contribute to the goals of the organization. Career development encompasses "vertical" issues such as promotions and upward mobility,
but also "horizontal" movement (lateral job transfers) within the organization. Career development deals with the fundamental nature of the relationship of individuals to their work and employees to their organizations. A clearly defined plan of action prepares employees for the future and preserves an organization's ability to meet both existing and future needs. Rarely is enough attention given to alternative paths that reflect more personal aspirations, especially when those desires do not fit the familiar pattern of traditional organizational life. Today's employees are demanding more from their work in terms of fulfillment and personal satisfaction. They use words such as "empowerment" and "selfdevelopment" in expressing demands. This tells us much about the changing face of the...
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