One of the top reasons good employees leave jobs is because they have few or no opportunities to advance within a company. But this particular pain point can be mitigated by identifying potential avenues through which an employee can grow and integrate as a member of a business. They want to know how their careers fit in with your long-term business plans: the extension and development of employee career pathing and ladders is a crucial factor in retention, engagement, and ultimately business growth.
In this article, we’ll define career pathing, discuss why it matters, and fill you in on some steps you can take to implement it successfully at your company.
What is Career Pathing?
Think of it like a roadmap for your employees. A career path is more than just a projected timeline of goals which lead your workers to their ultimate role at your company: it’s also a list of concrete steps and instructions on how to get there. This is one of HR’s main functions, and creating a career path will be a collaboration between themself and human resources. Based on a team member’s skills, experiences, competencies, interests and preferences, they can identify opportunities and potential pathways for reaching their full potential while under your employment.
There exist a number of career pathing tools that allow your employees to set both long- and short-term goals that will act as landmarks on their career development map. Their ability to reach these landmarks will determine when and if they may be considered for advancement.
Career “ladders” describe the roles which might be held by an employee along the way from an entry-level position to wherever they want to go. For example, the career ladder for someone along a management track might include titles such as assistant manager, deputy, area, senior, general, and vice president. A ladder might be integrated into a career path to indicate certain development goals.
Career pathing provides both tangible and intangible benefits to a company’s employee base, including:
- Employee Engagement – Happy employees mean a healthy business. And today’s workforce is not satisfied by just a paycheck. Employees expect to grow and develop both personally and professionally at their place of work. Developing a career path gives employees insight into their own skills and competencies, as well as how to leverage those qualities to further their own careers.
- Employee Retention – No one wants to be stuck in a dead-end career. And if employees are left wondering if and when they’ll move forward in a business, they might decide to leave. However, continued training and development keep employees motivated, and excited to come to work every day, thus reducing turnover.
- Succession Planning – At the enterprise level, career planning can help a business keep up with inevitable personnel changes. Identifying and mitigating skill gaps, helping to train the right people for their next role at the company, and moving people with great leadership potential into management positions through career pathing will allow a business to be well-prepared for the future.
- Business Health – Employee engagement can produce benefits which are felt throughout a company. From lowered absenteeism rates to a positive employer brand, companies which utilize career pathing have the best chance of building a happy employee base, and a healthier business overall.
Developing Talent with Employee Career Pathing and Ladders
In this section, you’ll find a guide to the process of employee career pathing including steps to take, and tools to use.
- Identify and chart your company’s structure. Planning the course of your employee’s career advancement and development will be dependent on how your business structures hierarchy and relationships. You need to know up front whether your company has a traditional structure, a flat structure, or if it uses another unique model.
- Define positional requirements. The rungs on each career ladder should be spelled out so that both employee and employer know the exact requirements of each role. Outline key responsibilities, hard and soft skills required, experience needed, what success looks like in this position, etc.
- Develop a roadmap for each position. Before you can instruct an employee on how they will advance within your company, you have to know how advancement actually works for each career ladder. What does it take to move from area manager to senior manager, for example? What are the steps that need to be taken to get from point A to point B within a given career path?
- Identify training needs. This will vary by department, and additionally will depend on whether the department in question hires internally or externally — external hires might require more training, and additional guidance regarding fitting into company culture, etc. The potential for advancement is largely based on what training protocols your company has in place, and whether those will prepare your employees for future roles.
- Create actionable programs. To initiate successful career pathing for your employees, you will need a plan to get you started. Implementing a solid and well organized training and development program sets a standard of healthy employee advancement within your company, and prevents employee stagnation and turnover.
- Develop employee career paths early. Career pathing should be a standard protocol for onboarding at your company. And the goals and landmarks you set with your employees should be revisited and discussed during your regular performance reviews.
Final Thoughts: Developing Employee Career Pathing and Ladders
Employee career pathing helps boost employee engagement by providing clear opportunities for growth and development within a company. This in turn fortifies a company’s overall health and well being.
To see how Harver can help you help your employees do their best work, reach out for a demo today.