What is Career Pathing? Understanding The Answer To Today’s Biggest Workplace Problem
Employee engagement is the holy grail of the modern workplace. Despite insights into the problem of a disengaged workforce, however, statistics on engagement have hardly changed in more than a decade. (On average, two out of three employees remain disengaged.) New evidence, however, supports the growing conclusion that career pathing may be the answer to improving those numbers.
What Is Career Pathing?
Career pathing is the process through which an employee charts a course for career development inside a particular organization. It focuses on identifying vertical and lateral opportunities for advancement or progression for each employee, and on understanding the skills, experiences, and personal and professional competencies necessary for success in each new role. When designed and implemented effectively, career pathing dramatically improves employee engagement, thereby offering extensive benefits to both individual employees and organizations as a whole.
Unlike workers from the past, today’s workers desire far more than a paycheck and benefits. They want personal and professional fulfillment. They want to learn and grow in a position that enables them to truly utilize their strengths. More, according to Gallup’s most recent State of the American Workplace report, if they feel they can’t do this within their current companies, they feel little hesitation to leave them. In fact, two of the most common reasons for employees to leave a job are a lack of career growth opportunities and a feeling their current job is a poor fit for them personally.
Career pathing addresses both concerns. An effective career pathing program offers clear insights into skill gap shortages and provides resources to address those gaps. It also provides detailed information into various paths for advancement. Together, this ensures opportunities for growth, learning, and fulfillment are available – and readily accessible – to each employee in an organization, from entry-level to upper management. In 2017, when 51% of employees are searching for new jobs and/or watching for new openings, this keeps your high potential employees where you want them – with you.
Succession Planning and Longevity
Successful companies identify and coach high potential employees across various roles and departments to take over key positions. They don’t focus only on those employees in direct line for promotion. Career pathing helps companies identify both the employees best suited for key positions and the skills and training those employees need in order to excel. This enables organizations to move high potential employees into key positions effectively, with as little downtime as possible, which helps cement organizational longevity.
Productivity and Profitability
Lost productivity from disengaged employees costs U.S. employers between $483 billion and $605 billion each year. Career pathing boosts employee engagement, helping bring an individual organization’s engagement numbers far above the 33% average. (In some instances, as high as 70%, according to Gallup.) With engagement, productivity rises, and profitability soon follows, due to fewer turnover costs, fewer missed days, more positive interactions with customers, and less employee theft. In fact, recent research shows that employees within the top quartile of engagement are 17% more productive and sell 20% more than employees in the bottom quartile. They also are 21% more profitable and miss 41% fewer days of work.
Taken together, the evidence is clear: An effective career pathing program empowers employees by giving them the insight, motivation, and guidance they need to set goals and propel themselves toward success. Engagement rises. In turn, empowered and engaged employees bolster company profitability and ensure long-term financial success. Building an effective career pathing program, then, should be a top priority.
Four Steps to Successfully Implement Career Pathing
There are several reasons why companies have not implemented career pathing: Years of traditional employee processes; resistance to changing those processes; fear of employees expecting advancement once they have a career path; belief that these solutions are costly and time-consuming; and expecting implementation will be complex and resource-intensive. In reality, understanding the steps involved in implementing a successful career pathing plan helps ensure a smooth transition for the company, rapid implementation time and immediate as well as long-term ROI.
How to Improve Employee Retention and Company Performance with Career Pathing
Four-and-a-half years. That’s the approximate length of time the average employee stays at one job. Younger employees hop more often, however, with most leaving a mere two years after hire. With disengagement rates topping 71.1% in the Millennial workforce, this is hardly a surprise.
Fixing Stuck: Engaging Employees With Career Pathing
Lack of engagement is a wide-spread problem according to numerous studies, with anywhere from a fifth to 84% of employees claiming to be actively unhappy at work. The vast majority of these employees are also considering or have considered quitting. Desire to “move up the ladder” and “lack of opportunity for advancement” were cited as major reasons for this desire by 20-30% of respondents in one study. In fact, according to that same study, the vast majority of employees feel “stuck” in their careers, with less than 25% able to see a clear career path in their current job.