Emphasizing career development opportunities is the best way to maintain the focus of the most ambitious and valuable employees and maximize performance across the workforce. Research from Aon Hewitt indicates that career development discussions are important in keeping employees motivated and engaged. Here are five ways technology can help:

Facilitate career planning and management discussions: Technology can help facilitate career development conversations between managers and employees in a number of ways, including support for regular discussions between staff and supervisors across the career management process. A career development planning section on the regular performance review form can ensure that managers and employees discuss and document employee career goals and that managers assign the appropriate career development opportunities. Employees can also document their broader skills and abilities as well as their career plans in their digital talent profiles. These profiles should be configurable so you can include all the sections you need.

Foster multidirectional career progression: Many employers now recognize that flexibility is better for staff and companies alike. Lateral moves can enable employees to acquire new skills, move to a lower level to prepare for retirement or achieve greater work-life balance. A circular progression can include all of these stages at various points in a single career. You can use technology to build talent pools that help identify the right roles for employees — no matter which direction they are headed. A talent pool that alerts HR and management teams to the presence of employees with the right skill sets and a performance module that enables side-by-side comparisons can be excellent technology assets to foster multidirectional career progression.

Support career development: HR should encourage managers to create a career development plan for their staff that includes a mix of formal and informal training opportunities that align with employee objectives and organizational needs. Learning management systems can be an excellent way to create learning paths that track with career goals. This can make it easier to document and administer career development goals and achievements.

Recruit from within: When a new job opens up due to the incumbent leaving or because a new role has been created, it’s always a good idea to try to find a candidate within the organization. Not only does it improve employee morale when staff members see that there are opportunities to grow within the company, it’s cheaper and helps employers maintain institutional knowledge by keeping good employees on board for the long term. A succession planning strategy that uses talent pools ensures that your company identifies candidates at various stages of readiness throughout the organization. This makes it simple to determine if there are qualified people internally to fill an open position. It’s also a good idea to publicize openings internally even in the absence of qualified candidates in the talent pool and conduct a search within groups of high-potential employees.

Encourage employees to take charge of their own career development: Not only does active participation in their own career development boost employee engagement, it holds them accountable for their advancement. By using technology tools, employees can build an online profile that showcases their expertise and broader skill set. They can expand on areas they are interested in, requesting stretch goals during the performance review process or during their regular conversations with their managers. Employees should be encouraged to focus on developing skills that are relevant to the business and, of course, to their career.

By following these five best practices, companies can demonstrate that they value employees and are invested in their future for the long term. All five of these best practices send a signal to staff that there are satisfying career paths within the organization and that the company is ready to help them reach their goals. And by using technology tools to implement and manage these best practices, HR professionals can position employees — and the company — for a bright future with long-term success.