Rethinking career planning and development

As the life expectancy of Singaporeans increases, we are likely to spend more years in the workforce. Longer working lives have created opportunities for new career and life stages to emerge, and employers are becoming more conscious about the need to restructure careers when jobs and businesses are constantly being disrupted.

HR needs to re-examine career planning and development policies to incorporate greater flexibility and choice for individuals to customise their own career routes. Here are some ways to do so.

Move away from “age markers”

With new career and life stages emerging, the demand for flexibility from individuals to create his or her unique sequence of stages based on personal needs, aspirations and choices will also increase.

An individual approaching their 60s may not necessarily be looking to retire soon. In fact, with high standards of healthcare and longer life expectancy, employees are able to continue contributing in meaningful jobs well past the official retirement age of 62. Hence, taking time to develop your employees throughout their entire career is important.

Be sure to also avoid making assumptions about your employees’ career preferences, career guidance needs, aspirations, and goals based on age as this will put your organisation at risk of losing talent. The key is to develop a plan to manage transitions and embrace it by adopting an agile mindset – one that is forward-looking with a thirst for continuous learning.

Widen your perspective

A career track with a steady upward trajectory may not be the only way to grow our employees today. Consider various career paths for your employees, such as lateral or even diagonal moves to a new field or department. All these career growth opportunities should be clearly communicated to employees.

Employers can also go one step further by encouraging employees to build their own career lattice, in which career development and recognition are allowed to flow freely, along horizontal, vertical and diagonal paths. Not only does this encourage your employees to gain additional experience and skills, it also enables you to retain talented employees who are looking for a change.

Rethink recruitment

As employees move through different stages in their life and career, organisations need to recognise their needs and career aspirations. In addition, organisations should look beyond their existing talent pool and broaden it with mid-career hires. Those who do so will benefit from the skills and experience of a diverse talent pool.

For instance, those in their 30s and 40s may have experience in managing small businesses or start-ups while those in their 60s and 70s can take on a mentorship role.