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Growing, developing, and promoting employees is the cornerstone of any great people strategy. But, despite data showing that teams led by internally promoted managers are 15% more productive, businesses still fail to create legitimate routes for employee progression.

If this happens in your business, we’re confident we know the answer - career pathing. In this article, we’ll explore what career pathing is, the benefits it can bring to you and your employees, and how you can implement it right away using Grow.

Let’s get started!

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What is Career Pathing?

A career path is a sequence of roles an employee progresses through as their career grows within an organization. Career paths traditionally run vertically from entry-level to executive roles. However, this isn’t always the case. Further developing particular skills, knowledge, and experiences can ensure people have a big impact in individual contributor roles.

As an employer, it’s best practice to create and manage career paths within your business actively. This shows employees the typical approach you expect them to take, clearly demonstrating where progression opportunities exist and the requirements for making the next move.

Successful career pathing, therefore, requires great employee development. Each step along the path is designed to nurture the development of new skills, knowledge, and experience, ultimately preparing an employee for their next promotion.

The Benefits of Career Pathing

When designed and implemented correctly, career pathing benefits employers and employees alike. Here are three key benefits for each party:

For The Employer

1 - Improved Employee Retention

In a world where employees believe they can only get ahead by changing organizations, career pathing offers an effective alternative. A clear and attainable career path gives employees the confidence they can grow with you, and confidence improves your employee retention.

But why is that important? Here are just some of the knock-on benefits you’ll receive when boosting your employee retention:

  • You save money on new employee hiring costs
  • You retain valuable knowledge, skills, and experience for longer
  • Your customers receive consistent service and build stronger relationships
  • Your company culture is enriched

Consistency, longevity, and long-term relationships are crucial to building a solid workforce, and career pathing helps deliver stronger employee retention.

The Data: 94% of surveyed employees said they would stay at a company longer if the company demonstrated a commitment to helping them learn and grow.

2 - It Enables Succession Planning

Businesses constantly strive to maximize performance by getting their best people in the most critical positions. So effective career pathing isn’t just a pretty picture showing how to move up the ladder; it’s underpinned by skills development.

Career pathing helps organizations identify the best performers in their business and maps out the training and experience required to get them to the top. Crucially, these employees may not reach the top through vertical promotion only, with coaching and mentoring being put in place to support diagonal and horizontal moves.

Effective succession planning is even more important for senior positions. Senior leaders are expensive to replace, but their roles are also critical for business stability and direction. Career pathing helps ensure succession planning is top-of-mind at every level.

The Data: 86% of leaders believe succession planning is of utmost importance, but only 14% think their organization does it well - let career pathing help you out!

3 - Enhanced Productivity Through Engagement

While we look at this in more detail shortly, employees that have a clear route to grow will undoubtedly be more engaged with your organization. The knock-on effect of improved employee engagement? Improved productivity!

Engaged employees experience less stress, work better in a team, and get more work done in less time. That means lower costs and more output for your organization - the golden formula for greater profitability.

The Data: Engaged employees outperform their non-engaged peers helping their organization become 21% more profitable.

For The Employee

1 - Greater Visibility of Progression

There’s nothing better than seeing a clear, defined route to progress into a more senior position within your organization as an employee. While career pathing doesn’t necessarily create new roles, it does help them become more visible and accessible.

As an employee, this enables you to make an informed plan about your career and helps set realistic goals for future roles. In addition, it means you don’t need to hunt for a new job ( which could put a lot of additional pressure on yourself and those around you).

The Data: Nearly two-thirds of employees believe promoting within beats hiring externally, with 70% of promoted employees staying with a company for an additional five years.

2 - A Pathway to Learn & Grow

As we saw earlier, career pathing also helps organizations identify the underpinning skills and training employees will need in the future. This focus on development gives employees confidence that they will grow as a professional by staying with an organization.

As long as HR policy remains competitive in other areas, such as working arrangements and salary, a focus on development is a huge incentive for employees to stick around. Learning new skills is rewarding, with career pathing placing an exciting concentration on growth.

The Data: Surprisingly, lack of growth and development opportunities is the number one reason (at 22%) that workers leave their roles. This is up by 170% in the last decade.

3 - Better Company Engagement

As we briefly mentioned earlier, this adds to employees feeling more engaged, valued, and essential to their organization. This also helps employees feel more secure as they can easily visualize a long career in the company.

Engaged employees are also happier, less stressed, have better overall morale, and help create a better all-around team culture. These benefits extend to everyone in the team and creates a strong sense of community and trust.

The Data: Research shows that 85% of employees are not engaged in the workforce. Implementing career pathing can help bring better engagement to your entire organization!

How To Get Started with Career Pathing

If all of this has grabbed your attention, we bet you’re ready to get going. Here are five steps to take to develop your career pathing capability.

Understand your company hierarchy

To begin, take the time to refresh your memory of your organizational structure. Specifically, identify the different high-level responsibilities of each role and work to understand how positions at various levels interact with each other.

Assess the underpinning skills

With the roles mapped out, now take the time to assess the underpinning skills, knowledge, and experience individuals need for the position - this is often referred to as competency modeling. Remember that skills and expertise grow over time, so consider the level of competency someone would need to start the role versus what’s required to master it.

Map out the pathways

You can now plot employee career paths with your roles and underpinning skills identified. As an HR professional, you’ll most likely collaborate on this with hiring managers. Remember that pathways may go horizontal and vertical, but be sure that every step of a course offers valuable progression.

Fill in the training gaps

For each pathway, now take the time to identify what’s required to jump from one role to another. The gap between the skills, knowledge, and experience of each career path step highlights areas of training and development you’ll need to support employees through.

Iterate and launch

You won’t get this right the first time, so continue cycling between steps one to four to perfect your career pathing framework. Once you’re happy, you can begin to launch these pathways within your business, guiding employees through each role, the associated skills, and the required training for their relevant career path.

Remember - As your organization evolves, your roles and underpinning skills will also change. Therefore, career pathing isn’t a point in time exercise; it should be reviewed regularly to ensure employee progression is up-to-date and value-adding for all parties.

Grow - The Ultimate Career Pathing Tool

At Grow, our mission is to build safe cultures where individuals grow and teams achieve more together.

Our Growth Hub is the perfect place to unlock employee growth through clarity of information.

The Growth Hub helps organizations:

  • Save time using our flexible Career Pathing templates 📈
  • Align, empower, and retain employees by connecting them to roles, mentors, and learning resources 🤝
  • Connect their people to our global Growth Community where everyone learns from each other through AI-driven matching based on goals & skills 💡
  • Immediately match their employees to your newly opened roles based on their goals & skills ✅

Join the Growth Hub today.

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