Supporting Career Growth: 5 Ways to Invest in Your Employees’ Futures

Written by Nicola Wylie
Last updated November 8, 2023

As a business owner, the professional development of your employees is of utmost importance. In order to maintain a loyal and satisfied workforce, it’s your responsibility as an employer to play an active role in supporting their career growth. After all, it is a win-win situation: the more you invest in your employees, the greater the outcome it will have on your business or organisation moving forward.

In today’s blog, we will explore 5 ways you can support your employees’ career growth to build a more engaged, productive, and highly skilled workforce. 

5 Ways to Support Career Growth

From robust training programmes to flexible job moves to tuition reimbursement, these strategies demonstrate a commitment to helping your people continuously learn, grow, and thrive in their roles. 

1. Offer training and development programmes

Perhaps the most effective way employers can support their employees’ career growth is through formal training and development programmes. These specially designed courses allow employees to gain new skills, expand their knowledge, and prepare for career advancement.

As the UK continues to suffer from a skilled worker shortage, what better way to close the gap than to train your own employees in areas where your business needs them? Programmes like apprenticeships, work-based training, and both in-house and external workshops or courses can be hugely beneficial. Furthermore, the government-run Skills Funding Agency provides financial support for employers who offer skills training to their employees. 

There are numerous advantages to providing training opportunities for your workforce. For instance, employees feel more supported and valued when given the chance to develop professionally. This drives engagement, motivation, and retention. As a result, it leads to a more skilled, future-ready workforce which benefits your organisation.

Bonus reading 👉 Providing Training Programmes

2. Create Individualised Development Plans

In addition to formal training programmes, another great way to cultivate employee growth is through individualised development plans (IDPs).

IDPs are documents that are drawn up collaboratively between managers and employees. They outline the employee’s short and long-term career goals, competency gaps, and detailed action plans for development.

The manager acts as a coach, helping identify the employee’s aspirations and abilities. You can then pinpoint any skill or knowledge gaps that may be holding them back. Together you can set measurable goals to address these gaps over a set period of time through the various development programmes you set up.

The actions may include training courses, mentoring, taking on special projects, job shadowing or stretch assignments (more on this below). It’s important to schedule check-in meetings so you can track progress and make any changes to the plan as needed.

IDPs boost retention by showing employees you are invested in their personal growth within your company. Employees also appreciate the chance to have an open dialogue about their career goals. With IDPs, organisations gain more skilled, motivated workers – so it’s another clear win-win.

Bonus Reading 👉 The Ultimate Career Development Framework

3. Provide Stretch Assignments

One impactful way to develop your employees is by providing stretch assignments – projects or responsibilities that push them outside their comfort zones.

Do you have an employee who excels in their current role? Consider giving them a short-term assignment that expands their skills and tests their abilities. Examples of stretch assignments could include:

  • leading a cross-functional team
  • managing a new product launch
  • heading up a charity campaign
  • representing your organisation at an industry conference

Stretch assignments allow driven employees to gain new competencies and experiences. It satisfies their appetite for challenge and personal and professional growth. By letting your employees stretch their wings, you empower them to reach their full potential.

To ensure a stretch assignment is a positive experience, it’s essential that you set clear objectives and support the employee through coaching and mentorship. Make sure they have the tools and resources needed to step up successfully.

Upon completion of the stretch assignment, schedule a check-in meeting in which you openly discuss their learnings. Clarify how the experience can aid in their personal development and create future opportunities within the company. When structured properly, stretch assignments let your employees know that you’re invested in their growth trajectory.

Bonus reading 👉 Continuous Learning in the Workplace

4. Be flexible with lateral moves

Promotion isn’t the only way to support your employees’ career growth. Enabling employees to make lateral career moves across teams or within departments is another excellent growth-enabling strategy.

As the saying goes, “A change is as good as a rest”. So, while you may be reluctant to lose top talent in their current roles, understand that a fresh challenge and new working environment can be a great motivator. Approaching lateral transfers with flexibility shows you support skill-building through new experiences.

The employee gets to expand their knowledge and capabilities and you retain engaged talent within your organisation. It’s a promising talent mobility tactic but requires clear communication.

To make lateral moves successful, ensure the employee understands their new role and responsibilities from the get-go. Retraining may be required to get them up to speed and a mentor in their new department will be essential.

With the proper facilities in place, lateral transitions allow employees to gain wider business acumen while serving your organisation’s broader needs. This pays dividends through a well-rounded, dynamic workforce.

Bonus reading 👉 An Employer’s Guide to Employee Burnout

5. Recognise and Reward Progress

Beyond development opportunities, it’s just as important to recognise and reward your employees’ efforts and achievements along their career journeys. 

Celebrating wins, milestones, and special contributions not only boosts morale but also positively reinforces desired behaviours. 

Here are a few ways you can show your recognition of their progress: 

  • Share positive feedback and praise directly with employees when you notice their progress. Be specific about their accomplishments.
  • Hold team meetings or events when employees reach major milestones, complete projects, obtain new certifications, etc.
  • Send company-wide emails or newsletters highlighting employee achievements.
  • Award spot bonuses or gift cards to celebrate major contributions.
  • Implement formal reward systems tied to established goals and metrics.

It’s important to keep recognition sincere, timely, and public whenever appropriate. Consistent, positive reinforcement lets employees know that you notice and care about their growth and success over the long haul. This helps to build a more engaged, motivated, and loyal workforce. 

Bonus reading 👉 What Do The UK’s Best Workplaces Have In Common?

Final Thoughts on Supporting Employee Career Growth

A little appreciation goes a long way when you’re investing in your people’s futures. And it’s wise to remember that your employees are your business’s most valuable asset. As such, investing in their future within your company is an overall win-win.

Expert advice is essential when supporting employee growth. Our team of experts at Refreshing a Career can help you invest in your people while growing your business.

Our employer resource hub is packed with guides on everything from funding to training to helping you build an inclusive workplace

Be sure to browse our range of employer services, including advertising your roles on our dedicated career change jobs board.

For more information, give us a call on 0345 872 4501 or send an email to

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Last Updated: Wednesday March 27 2024
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