Your human resources department has a lot on their plate, from hiring new recruits to administering payroll and benefits. But as far as their obligations to your employees go, just how involved do they need to be once the hiring process is over?


Most employees don’t imagine that they’ll get a job and remain there forever. Most new hires envision themselves moving up the ranks, accepting more responsibility, and being faced with challenges that will keep them on their toes. Many express a desire to learn new skills and continue training, in order to advance through the chain of command and to keep themselves engaged, mentally and emotionally. As an employer, you want to encourage this attitude, because engaged employees are productive and enthusiastic employees.

But who is responsible for managing a career? Should your HR department be involved in ensuring all employees are actively engaged in activities that could see them advance? Or is career management the responsibility of an individual employee, who needs to be sure they’re doing good work in order to be considered for promotions?


The answer is a bit tricky. In some ways, HR can and should be responsible for career management. Motivated employees should certainly be given opportunities to learn new skills and take part in training that could prepare them to become a manager or team leader. Human resources, in most cases, is responsible for scheduling training workshops and for nominating employees who express interest. If your company offers financial support for job-related training endeavours, HR will also be responsible for administering this benefit—and in some cases, even determining which training programs qualify.

Human resources is also responsible for tracking employee performance and giving out awards and recognition for outstanding employees. In this way, HR can easily have a very expansive portfolio about who has what training, who is motivated to participate in training, who exceeds expectations on their performance reviews, and who is consistently being recognized for their contributions. That means human resources is in a great position to encourage employees to pursue endeavours that will help them advance their career at your firm.


As much as human resources is responsible for career management, the task cannot be their sole responsibility. Much as they have extensive information about who might deserve a promotion and can encourage employees in their pursuits, they can’t discourage certain employees from applying for a position or promote qualified employees if they don’t apply for the opening. That means that career management is, ultimately, the responsibility of the employee.

Employees who are content with their jobs won’t apply for positions, even if they are qualified for them, and they may not be motivated to pursue additional training that would make them a candidate for another position. Other employees may not be well-suited to certain positions, but if they express an interest or motivation for training, they must be allowed the opportunities for training; HR must also consider the application for a position if it’s submitted. That means that human resources, much as they can encourage and make suggestions, must allow employees to make decisions about what’s right for them.


The responsibility for career management belongs somewhat to human resources, but they cannot be solely responsible. The employee must play the largest role in managing their own career. The image of a boat works well here: HR can steer, but the employee must do the rowing. If the employee refuses to row, the boat won’t arrive—even if human resources wants it to.

Felicia Smith

Felicia is the manager of human capital solutions at AugmentHR. With over six years of recruitment experience coupled with multi-faceted HR roles, Felicia is an expert in matching people with the right role and environment. She has worked in many different industries, including investment banking, HR consulting firms, medical, and commercial. Understanding people is one of her strengths, and she has recruited at every level, from directors, project managers, and engineers to operators and general labourers. Her ability to network and develop relationships has been a key tool to her success. With approximately two years of experience managing people and creating a positive work environment, Felicia’s diverse skill set makes her a well-rounded individual. Her business education and background help her identify different business needs and human capital solutions.

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