In a recent study, conducted by the Work Institute, career development was identified as the top reason people leave or remain with organizations. In their study titled, 2017 Retention Report, 240,000 employees were interviewed about factors that were most influential in their decision to stay with or leave an organization.

For decades, organizations that have invested in developing their people also experienced higher market shares and lower turnover than competitors. Despite the positive data to support career development, many organizations continue to fall short.

Lack of growth is a common reason given during exit interviews for leaving. In a study conducted by Empxtrack, reviewing data from over a number of years and involving approximately 52,000 exit interviews, the research identified lack of growth opportunity as the second most given reason for leaving an organization. The study indicated that 22% of job exits were directly related to growth.

The good news is that with a little more focus on helping people develop their careers, organizations can reduce turnover. Fears that investing in an employee and then having them leave the organization is one of the most common excuses for not offering training or other development opportunities.

The truth is that people will leave anyway, to find an organization that offers them opportunity. Having a well-trained and engaged workforce does not happen without an emphasis on career development.


These career development initiatives include: formalized training programs, mentoring, internal coaching opportunities, and other opportunities. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) offers resources in integrating career development within an organization. According to SHRM, having a designed career development path for employees allows managers to address gaps in training. This is helpful in preparing people for promotions as well.

Career development impacts performance. When people feel like their organization cares and is focused on their development, it creates a deeper level of employee engagement. This increases the level of commitment on reaching individual and organizational goals.

Helping people become their best can help your organization stand out. Designing a culture that supports career development also enhances your employer brand.


Investing in your employees’ professional development is an organizational effort. Here are some basics steps in creating a career development focus:

  1. Know your people. Take time to learn them as individuals.
  2. Conduct a career path inventory and find out where they want to go.
  3. Use technology to create learning opportunities.
  4. Search for outside assistance and resources.

There are many resources that you and your organization can use to create a career development focus. These resources include, but are not limited to, workforce development programs, degree programs, mentoring, and career coaching. The National Career Development Association (NCDA) is a great place to start.

The world of work is changing and organizations need to be in better alignment with the needs of their people. If an organization is not offering career development, people will find it elsewhere. Employees will seek places of employment that embrace their individuality, interest and goals. Retain your talent by investing in career development programs.


Programs at Cornerstone University’s Professional & Graduate Studies division empower you to climb your organization’s ladder to get to where you want to be.

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