Table of contents
- Who do you want to be when you grow up?
- What is career pathing in HR?
- Advantages of career pathing for employees
- Advantages of career pathing for organizations
- Stages of career pathing
- Career pathing for the organization
Who do you want to be when you grow up?
Today, there are millions of possible answers to that question. One might want to be a marketer, manager, fashion designer, programmer, or make-up artist. Still, people don’t tend to aspire to be elevator operators or scribes. Why? Because those jobs have become obsolete due to technological advancement.
Nowadays, a career isn’t necessarily for life. Moreover, many people have more than one career or profession as they battle to find what they’re good at and how they can achieve what they want from their work life. Research from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that the average US worker takes up 10 different jobs before they reach the age of 50.
What is career pathing in HR?
Career pathing in HR is laying down a detailed plan for developing employees’ skills so employees can transition smoothly into future job roles.
The workforce has become more diverse, with employees coming from various backgrounds and quickly changing roles. These factors make it even more challenging to ensure that employees understand possible career paths and how they can move forward.
Companies use various strategies to retain top talent and develop skills. Keeping employee engagement high and improving the employee experience are key to retaining employees. Career pathing is a powerful way to enrich an employee’s experience at your organization. It provides meaning, purpose and builds a sense of loyalty and engagement.
Advantages of career pathing for employees
Control of the career journey
These days, employees are interested in something more than pay raises, benefits, and promotions. People seek professional and personal growth and want to learn new things. Career pathing gives employees a source of control in their employment journey.
Planning a career path can also be attributed to increased motivation. It helps employees avoid feeling stuck in a position with no possibility of progression. Every task becomes more meaningful when it is working towards specific goals in the career path. Allowing employees to take charge of their careers will inspire them to work harder and smarter.
Career support system
Once a career path is set, an employee can start planning the steps to achieve their career goals. One of the essential elements for employees in achieving career goals is surrounding themselves with the right people who can support their career ambitions. Within an organization, these people can be part of the mentoring system, team leaders, and so on.
Focus on required skills
Let’s say an employee wants to become a marketing manager. With career pathing, they can know the skill requirements for the role, such as the ability to manage paid advertising. Timely training helps employees focus on the skills necessary in the future to get to their desired role.
Advantages of career pathing for organizations
Career pathing may require additional involvement in training and development from HR and managers. Still, it can yield tangible benefits to businesses that invest in it, including:
Greater return on hiring investment
Much time, energy, and financial investment in hiring and training new employees is unavoidable. But the longer an employee stays with a company and effectively contributes to it, the higher the return on investment in hiring that person.
More engaged employees
Organizations that lay down career paths for their employees enjoy a higher degree of engagement. Employees understand that the organization is investing in them, motivating them to perform better at work. In addition, these paths show employees the scope of their career in the future. Clear communication about how employees can achieve their goals can be provided via multiple platforms, including feedback through interviews and observation of employees’ job performance by managers at work to check how they perform their tasks.
Better employee retention
A career path can serve as a guide to determine what skills or experiences an employee may need to develop to qualify for newly available organizational opportunities. Imagine an employee has lost interest in their position. When an HR leader revisits the employee’s career path at that time, the chances that the employee will start looking for a new opportunity outside the company are reduced.
Moreover, when an HR leader initiates a conversation about an employee’s career path at such a critical juncture, the employee may realize their importance to the company. All these factors nurture a positive work environment. A healthy company culture can increase employee productivity, ultimately providing, among other things, a stronger employer brand and more favorable conditions for hiring future employees.
Employees with a long-term view of their relationship with an employer are more likely to be invested in helping the company succeed, and career pathing can play a key role here. Despite the short-term gains that may come with switching to a new job, an employee with a career path may see that the long-term opportunities at your business are more compelling.
Stages of career pathing
1. Conduct a talent gap analysis
A talent gap analysis identifies jobs that will support individual advancement and organizational growth. This analysis aims to select occupational fields and specific jobs within those fields to target the development of career pathways. Once target jobs have been identified, the following steps will assess how well current programs meet workforce needs and determine whether more investment in training is required.
2. Form a career pathway planning team
Form a planning team that will oversee the development of career pathways. During this stage, planners will assemble a list of leaders in the organization involved in building career pathways.
Career pathway planners often find employers the most demanding partners to engage with, but for career pathways to succeed, employers must be on board. One way to get high employer involvement is to create a written statement that spells out what employers can expect to gain and what is expected of them in return. This helps in developing a common language and understanding with employers. In addition, this document should list potential benefits for employers such as targeted recruitment and screening of candidates, input into training design, support for training, and offering competitive wages for new hires.
Employers must understand how, by having input in the training program design, they can reap benefits such as reduced on-the-job training for individuals hired. Encourage employees to see career pathing programs as efforts to solve their workforce problems or needs.
Employers can contribute to career pathways in several ways, including by making time for employees to attend training, reimbursing tuition, purchasing equipment, and assisting in finding and compensating instructors with industry experience. The more deeply employers are involved in career pathing, the more invested they will be in the programs offered and the greater the chance they will achieve a robust future workforce.
3. Implement career pathing plans
By this stage, HR leaders have taken steps in establishing career paths by specifying each team’s roles, commitments, and contributions, including those of employers. The next steps are coordinating the work, including program development, recruitment, delivery of programs and support services, job development, and measurement of the results.
While each team leader developing the career pathway has important strengths to leverage, the HR leader plays the most critical role in career pathing development. HR leaders are the champions of the effort. They generate momentum by keeping an eye on the ultimate goal of forming and sustaining development programs and keeping teams focused when energy dwindles.
HR leaders are also responsible for being the traffic cops of career pathing, meaning they oversee progress towards milestones, hold teams accountable for accomplishing tasks, and evaluate performance.
4. Continuous improvement through evaluation and feedback
Industries continuously experience changes for technological, economic, and other reasons, and pathways must evolve in response. Therefore, when evaluating career pathing programs, HR leaders should stay abreast of changes in requirements for advancement at each training program level.
The goal throughout this stage is to modify and, where necessary, add programs and services to help employees advance more readily and rapidly towards careers while at the same time responding to the organization’s evolving needs. A regular in-process review of training program performance can help address the following questions:
- What is the rate at which employees complete training programs at each level? Why do some participants not complete programs? What can be done to improve completion rates?
- How successful are those who complete programs in advancing to the next level in their career? What changes to training programs could help to improve career advancement outcomes?
- How do those who complete training programs view the quality of their experience? What suggestions do these employees have for improving programs and services?
Career pathing for the organization
It makes sense when you are career pathing, to review the organization’s mission, vision, and goals to ensure they still make sense in light of the evolving needs of employees and customers. Contact us to learn more about how we can strategically align your organization’s goals with those of your employees.