6 Steps to Update Your Public Sector Career Development Program

by Alexandrea Davis on January 25, 2023

Learn why professional development is critical to your government organization’s success and how you can update your career development program.

Article Highlights: 

The quiet hiring crisis in the public sector means government organizations have to rethink their recruitment and retention practices. As public sector employees leave their jobs in droves and agencies face difficulties filling vacancies, your organization must consider ways to improve job satisfaction, fill skill gaps, and reduce turnover

A public sector career development program can help. According to 64% of learning and development professionals, a career development program is no longer just a “nice to have” – it’s a must. That’s because professional development opportunities offer cascading benefits that result in happier employees and better organizational outcomes, like improved recruitment and retention. 

In this article, we’ll discuss precisely why professional development opportunities are vital to employee and organizational success. Then, we’ll outline six specific actions you can take to update your government career development program and maximize your organization’s potential.   

Why You Need to Provide Development Opportunities for Employees

Cultivating robust professional development opportunities supports employee and organizational success. Let’s find out how. 

Supports employee success

Learning and development training supports employee success by enabling individuals to take ownership of their professional paths. When employees have opportunities to enroll in courses that align with their career goals – rather than stagnate in the day-to-day of their jobs – they maintain a deeper engagement with their work. 

These opportunities for engagement and continuous growth increase job satisfaction and bolster the contributions employees can make within your agency. For example, organizations that offer regular professional development see an 8% to 18% increase in employee performance. Put simply, when you equip employees with professional development opportunities, you enable them to excel in their roles and become the best employees possible

Supports organizational success

Improved employee satisfaction also benefits your organization. Happy, growth-oriented employees are less likely to search for opportunities elsewhere, with 94% of employees being more likely to remain with an organization that provides clear opportunities for professional development. In other words, a career development plan leads to higher retention and less turnover within your agency. 

In addition to increasing retention, a career development program also serves as a valuable recruitment tool. By providing robust training, you can be the organization that talented individuals flock to as they seek comprehensive career growth opportunities.

To sum it up, when you support employee success, you also support the success of your organization and community as a whole. The more happy, skilled, and productive your employees are, the less likely they are to leave – and the more equipped they are to provide high levels of service. 

6 Steps to Update Your Career Development Program

Now that you’re excited about the benefits of learning and development, let’s dive into six steps to update your career development program. 

1. Talk to your employees

Before you make any changes to your learning and development program, you must understand the needs of your employees. Ask employees the questions below to clarify your organization’s career development needs. 

  • What do employees want out of a learning and development program?
  • What do employees like about the current program? 
  • What can your agency improve upon with regard to current growth opportunities? 

Talking to employees fosters trust, demonstrates that you value their insights, and helps cultivate a healthy organizational culture. Of course, it also ensures people will participate and benefit from the programs you implement!

2. Accommodate different learning styles

As you update your career development program, consider different learning styles and content formats. Some employees will prefer specific structures and approaches to learning over others, so plan to incorporate various types of training material like: 

  • Long-form and short-form content
  • Videos, audio, blogs, and visuals 
  • Multi-phase courses and single-phase courses
  • Group training sessions and independent learning options

Offering a variety of formats ensures that all employees benefit from the opportunities you develop. 

3. Develop a plan for ongoing implementation

The last thing you want is a disjointed career development program. Employees should know precisely how professional development opportunities will improve their career trajectory. Build a career development structure that guides employees and demonstrates how they can leverage the program to advance their career paths – including moving to other roles within your agency. 

A straightforward implementation plan also helps supervisors support the continuous development of employees. Supervisors should know how to stay informed about an employee’s progress and how to celebrate and reward achievements. By clarifying a manager’s role in supporting their employees, you ensure both employee and supervisor reap the benefits of professional development. 

4. Integrate your career development program with your other processes

An excellent career development program should be integrated with other organizational processes, such as hiring, performance management, and succession planning. In doing so, you demonstrate the importance of learning and development at every stage of the employee lifecycle. You also ensure employees know about the resources available to them – and that they won’t forget to use your chosen learning platform – so you can build the most successful, effective program possible. 

For example, HR professionals might share the numerous training opportunities available to employees during onboarding, and supervisors can facilitate conversations about training opportunities and performance metrics as part of the employee performance evaluation process. Likewise, training programs that support career mobility and career progression can be used to guide succession planning efforts in your organization.

5. Measure your success

Before determining whether you’ve created a successful program, you need to set specific goals and track any associated performance metrics. When you first implement your updated career development program, take stock of performance measures like:

  • The number of employees participating in training courses
  • The completion rate of training 
  • The participation rate in career development plans 
  • Employee satisfaction with the career development program 
  • Supervisor satisfaction with the career development program

Then, continue to measure these items over time. Are you meeting your goals? Assess what’s going well and what needs improvement, then adjust your career development program accordingly.  

6. Leverage learning and development software

One final action can take your career development program to the next level: learning and development software. That’s because professional development software centralizes employee learning management for more straightforward program implementation, improved accountability, and efficient tracking of your employee development efforts. 

A learning management system (LMS) streamlines employee training by making it easy to automate training, from notifying employees about required courses to reminding them about upcoming due dates. Many learning management systems also enable you to customize classes to fit your employees’ unique needs. Additionally, mobile-friendly interfaces mean employees can participate in courses wherever and whenever it’s most convenient.

The numerous benefits of a learning management system include the following: 

  • Saving Human Resources staff time on implementation 
  • Saving employee time by making it easier to participate in training initiatives
  • Improving productivity since employees can participate when it makes sense for them, rather than taking time away from critical work tasks 
  • Enabling fair and consistent training practices
  • Fostering a better learning experience that improves employee engagement and retention 
  • Saving money on fewer hiring cycles (since employees are happy with the professional development opportunities you provide)

NEOGOV’s government learning management system, Learn, offers critical features to help you reap these benefits. This cloud-based and mobile-friendly LMS solution makes it easy for individuals to access more than 1,500 courses whenever they want. HR can also easily track progress and ensure organizational compliance using this learning and development software, including setting automated notifications to ensure supervisors and employees are always in the loop with training requirements. 

Final Thoughts

A robust career development program is critical to the success of employees and your organization. Now that you understand the six steps to updating your career development program, you’re ready to create stellar professional development opportunities. 

Want to learn more about the benefits of a learning management system? Read about the importance of replacing outdated employee training with a government LMS next.

Alexandrea Davis

Alexandrea Davis is a Content Marketing Specialist at NEOGOV, supporting content strategy and development. With a love for storytelling and commitment to making an impact, she aims to create meaningful content that builds trust and erodes challenges for public service professionals.

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