Career pathways are “a sequence of jobs that make up a career plan…the jobs that step an individual towards his or her goals and objectives.” Career pathways differ from the traditional organisational ladder because they are personalised towards the individual and their career ambitions.
Currently, almost all steps ‘upwards’ aren’t made within a company, through internal progression, but by moving to another employer. A mere 7% of upwards moves are internal, meaning companies are losing some of their best talent on a massive scale simply by their inaction.
Career pathways, as well as aiding retention, also improve engagement. This is particularly important for millennials, now the largest single generation group in the workplace. 52% rate career progression as the most desirable quality in the workplace.
Higher retention – avoiding the opportunity costs of replacing people and the loss of top talent – and higher engagement results in higher productivity and improved profitability. It’s easy to see why an increasing number of forward-thinking companies are getting on board with career pathways.
1. Set up
Drawing up a career pathway is about finding out how an individuals ambitions and motivations can be best aligned with the company’s mission and KPIs. Career pathways, in contrast with promotional ladders, should incorporate growth within roles as well as growth beyond roles, and crucially, determine the kind of training opportunities that will enable the individual to achieve progression.
But career pathways aren’t always about going up the ladder. An individual might want to move sideways, they might want to balance career with their other ambitions or commitments. A career path can move in many different directions.
Training and career pathways support one another. Non-targeted training isn’t going to be optimally focused, whilst career pathways without training and development opportunities risk stagnating. Training should be targeted, self-directed and built into the role (so it’s manageable and continuous).
Ari and his two co-founders launched Wiser in July 2014, which has grown to £3.5million in sales. Wiser specialises in developing employer brands for a range of clients including Just Eat, Sky Betting & Gaming and WorldPay. Ari explains, “Millennials need to be constantly reminded about why they are here and where they are heading. In start-ups, founders expect people to learn on the job and don’t invest enough in training. Millennials want to learn and improve, personally and professionally.”
3. Appraisals and reviews
Just like training, appraisals should be given frequently, to reinforce good behaviours and catch poor ones before they become habits. Formal appraisals, where individuals receive the chance to attain promotions, need to be scheduled in and kept to religiously – there’s nothing more aggravating to employees than for their review to be cancelled or delayed.
Apart from that, assessment criteria should be clear and consistent. The personalised nature of career pathways can make that tricky. Determining upfront the core competencies and behaviours and employee needs to exhibit or possess before they reach the next stage of their progression is one way of offering clarity and continuity across different career pathways.
Career pathways really are the untapped secret to retention. Get ahead of the curve by introducing them into your business, and reap the benefits before your competitors get in on the act.
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