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Career Development Program
Has your organization seriously considered implementing a career development program? If not, perhaps this is a good time to do so. The following description of several, widely used career development interventions and case studies can be used to stimulate discussion on various career development practices.

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Alternative Career Paths

One approach to alternative career pathing involves incorporating the skills employees already have with what their hearts want to do. It can involve changing career and lifestyles for more meaningful and fulfilling work arrangements. Creating alternative career paths often involves incorporating other career development interventions, such as flexi-time or job enrichment. Alternative career paths should not be confused with dual career paths, which is described later.

Career Pathing

Career pathing, also called career tracking, is a process of outlining an individual career plan, usually within an organization. Career pathing is most often used as a part of management training and development, although individuals may develop their own career track, either alone, or in conjunction with a career coach.

Employees follow pre-determined steps along the career path to develop expertise in managing different types of organizational situations and to reach their career goal. Periodic checks evaluate progress, as well as determining what further training or experience is needed to move to the next step. Career pathing often uses several other career development interventions as part of the process. These include cross-training, job rotation, job enrichment or enlargement, and temporary assignments.

Dual Career Tracks

Dual career tracks should not be confused with alternative career paths. Creating dual career paths involves preparing employees to succeed and be rewarded without necessarily being on a management or vertical organization career path. In other words, ``up'' is not considered the only way employees can grow and advance within the company. The establishment of dual or multiple career tracks has proven to be an effective way to retain and motivate valued employees.

Management can be an attractive career alternative for many employees, but it is not for everyone. This may be particularly true for many technical or creative workers. The number of people managed often distinguishes managerial levels, but under the dual career track plan, individuals apply their expertise (like managers) to tasks of greater complexity and impact within their specialty field.

For example, they may make recommendations in a wide range of business areas, participate in high level decisions, and act as mentors to other employees. The interest in dual or multiple career tracks is likely to grow as more organizations do away with formal management titles and establish team structures.

Career Coaching/Counseling

Career coaching frequently involves helping individuals prepare for a career change or helping employees advance in their existing jobs. From the employee's view, career coaching consists of evaluating interests, values, work styles, and skills. From the organization's view, it consists of matching employee talents with organizational needs, recruiting and retaining talent in the company, identifying training and development needs, and assisting employees in specifying and locating new employment opportunities within the organization.


Cross-trained workers are taught skills outside their current job assignment so they can be called upon to perform a variety of tasks as the need arises. Many workers and supervisors find themselves cross-training each other, just to make the day-to-day work life manageable. As a career development intervention, however, companies put into place a formal program of cross-training.

Cross-training helps organizations to balance workloads so everyone is busy, and allows the company to respond quickly to employee absences. It also allows employees and departments within an organization to gain a better understanding of the ``big picture'', and to improve communications and relations. Employees who are cross-trained are more valuable to the company, and more marketable in the work world overall.


Flextime is one of the most popular and most widely known career development interventions. Flexitime gives employees the opportunity to balance their work and personal lives by restructuring the typical workday to accommodate individual employee schedules. Employers who offer flexitime often report decreased use of paid leave, decreased tardiness and increased productivity. Other benefits for the employer include a low-cost method of providing personal time off and extending service hours without overtime pay. This career development intervention is popular with employees who have extended families or young children, who may be facing ``burn-out'', and those seeking further education or pursuing second careers.

Flexitime allows employees to set their own schedules, within limitations set by management. For example, workers may adjust their starting and ending times, but are required to be at the office during management specified core or peak hours. Working four ten-hour days is an example of a compressed workweek form of flexitime. Flexitime may also be combined with other interventions, such as job sharing, job rotation, and phased retirement.

Job Rotation

Job rotation is the systematic movement of employees from job to job within an organization, as a way to achieve many different human resources objectives : for simply staffing jobs, for orienting new employees, for preventing job boredom, and, finally, for training employees and enhancing their career development.

Job rotation is often used by employers who place employees on a certain career path or track, usually for a management position, where they are expected to perform a variety of duties, and have a variety of skills and competencies.

Job rotation is often confused with crosstraining. While both interventions perform essentially the same service of providing employees with a varied set of skills, job rotation goes beyond this. Besides being used as a means of management training, job rotation can also be used as a form of job enrichment, by adding increased responsibilities, increasing challenge, and reducing boredom or burnout.

Job Enlargement

Job enlargement is defined as increasing the number of tasks a worker performs, with all of the tasks at the same level of responsibility, and is also sometimes referred to as ``horizontal job loading'' . Be careful not to confuse job enlargement with job enrichment, which will be discussed later.

Job enlargement and job enrichment can both be used with plateaued workers or workers who are experiencing burnout, and with especially high achievers. These two interventions may be used in conjunction with each other, or with other career development interventions such as job rotation and temporary assignments. Both interventions provide the employee with increased skills, making him or her more valuable to the company, or more marketable in the job search.

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Job Enrichment

Job enrichment involves increasing a worker's responsibility and control over his or her work, and is also called ``vertical job loading''. Job enrichment allows you to expand your responsibilities or change your role to develop new competencies without leaving your current position or the organization altogether.

Job enrichment is also used as an effective motivational technique. According to this perspective, if a job provides a sense of responsibility, a sense of significance and information concerning performance, the employees will be internally motivated to high levels of performance. The key to creating this situation is to enrich jobs so they provide five core characteristics: task variety, task significance, task identity, autonomy and feedback.

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Job Sharing

With job sharing, a full-time job is split between two employees. The two employees share the duties and responsibilities, as well as the salary and benefits of the job. These two employees must also work closely together, and with management, to co-ordinate hours, duties, and communication among themselves and other departments in the organization. Most often, job sharing is used by parents or adults caring for their parents, and affords employees a better balance between their work and personal lives.

Employees pursuing further education or a second career may also use job sharing. Job sharing offers advantages over part-time work in that employees are able to maintain their professional status as well as some of their job benefits. One example of the advantage over flexitime situations is that with flexitime, parents may still require extended day care hours. Benefits to the employer include having ``two heads instead of one'', retaining valued and experienced employees, and down time due to vacation or sickness is reduced, because the job share partners cover for each other.

Phased Retirement

Organizations typically devote far more energy to recruiting and retraining than to phasing out workers. Phased retirement is one intervention that workers and employers can use at the latter end of the career cycle. During phased retirement, workers gradually taper their work schedules until they reach full retirement. Other career development interventions such as flextime and job sharing are typically incorporated into phased retirement arrangements. Retirees may work part time and serve as mentors or trainers to their successors. Benefits to employees include a greater sense of control over the transition from work to retirement, lowering the risk of economic insecurity, and more social support. The employer benefits by retaining valued talent and minimizing labor shortages.

Source of Reference:
James Kirk, Bridget Downey, Steve Duckett, and Connie Woody, Name Your Career Development Intervention, Journal of Workplace Learning Volume 12, Number 5.

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