Showing employees the way

Career paths, near extinct in the downsizing era of 1990s, are making a comeback
By Barbara Kofman and Kaitlin Eckler
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 07/10/2007

In the early 1980s, the companies most admired by HR professionals were the ones moving away from the paternalistic employee practices of the past and focusing on groundbreaking work in manpower planning and creating innovative career-path programs.

The companies at the vanguard were the ones that recognized and implemented far-reaching strategies to develop and nurture their human resources. They were the ones with visionary leaders who understood the return on investment of a productive and engaged workforce long before any of these terms crept into the everyday lexicon of HR.

Then came the lean and mean 1990s where the bottom line ruled the day, often at the expense of programs that explicitly supported the employee. Organizations with reputations of excellence for their HR practices began cutting them, along with their staff. And the days of the covenant between the employee and employer, with its understanding of the symbiotic relationship that sustained both parties, were all but lost.