Outcomes from employer-sponsored career development

Review of the literature

Edwards M, Carter A |   | Institute for Employment Studies  | Jun 2024

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Employers are being urged to support the life-long career development of their employees. Which has raised the question of what, if anything, beyond reputational advantages of being a ‘good’ employer can employers hope to gain? IES evaluations of employer-sponsored career development programmes have often found individuals reporting improved career thinking, self-confidence and more clarity about concrete actions they can take. However, occasionally we also find evidence of wider outcomes that positively impact the organisation, such as improved job satisfaction, burnout, and retention.  

This paper explores the links between career support and wider outcomes, to understand how one leads to the other. So that employers can design future career development  programmes, or tweak their existing ones, to maximise their full potential. The literature review is one element of a wider piece of work which IES was commissioned to conduct for NHS England, and we acknowledge their kind permission to share findings with other employers through the IES HR Network.

This literature review aims to explore the links between career support and wider outcomes, to understand how one leads to the other. Understanding the relationship between the input and outcomes will allow organisations to consider changes to their programmes that could maximise the potential for positive outcomes. To support employers to maximise the effectiveness of their career development offers, the literature review aims to answer the following research questions:

  • What outcomes are associated with organisational career management?
  • What are the underlying mechanisms by which these outcomes occur?

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