Create career paths and solve your retention problems.

Career paths are essential to employee engagement. Employee engagement improves retention.

Therefore, career paths are the key to business growth.

What is a Career Path?

A career path is an advancement roadmap in your company. It’s a structured timeline with short- and long-term benchmarks. It maps the route an employee takes from a lower-level position through successive positions to arrive at their ultimate goal.

Each employee’s plan will be somewhat unique, but it will be achievable in your organization.

Why Should Our Company Create Career Paths?

  • To retain your best employees
  • To give employees a sense of purpose
  • To attract top achievers
  • To increase the cumulative ability, experience, and diversity in your workforce
  • To create an employee-centric culture
  • To better compete with other employers in your market

How Do You Create Career Paths?

1. Update Your Organizational Chart

If you don’t have an org chart, create one. If you have one, make sure it’s up to date.

An organizational chart is a diagram that shows how your company is structured. (There is an example shown above.) It’s a graphical representation of the hierarchy and relationships.

Your company may have a traditional structure, flat structure, or something in between.

Align your org chart with your business plan. Are you adding products and services? Are you expanding into additional markets? You may need to add positions/teams/departments you don’t currently have.

2. Define Job Positions

Starting with each job description, list the key responsibilities. Outline the hard and soft skills. Be thorough and detailed. Look at the recent projects completed to make sure you haven’t missed anything. This exercise is also called job profiling.

Include the KPIs for each position. How do you measure success? Consider the high achievers in each role. What qualities make them effective?

3. Track a Roadmap For Each Skills Track

Define the roadmap(s) for each department, team, or business function. How does an entry-level employee advance through roles? What horizontal moves are necessary?

Keep in mind that there won’t be one path that connects each role to an advanced role. If you don’t have highly specialized job roles, you will potentially have many more career paths. This can be a great strength.

4. Identify Training Needs

Document the in-house and outsourced programs in place.

Can your employees advance up the ladder with what you have?

  • Is mentorship an important part of your culture?
  • Review exit interviews. Why do employees quit your company?
  • Survey your staff. What type of training do they want?
  • Which departments recruit internally? Which departments hire outside?

5. Create Training and Development Programs

If you haven’t invested heavily in training, this part will require the most time and resources.

This is the actionable part of your Career Path Program. Identify needs and create a timeline for implementation.

You may have to disrupt the status quo. But that’s the whole point.

Incorporate your development programs with your business plan. Build it into your budget.

If you are successful, you will create what Gallup calls a ‘coaching culture.’ This is what sets great companies apart.

6. Document Your Career Path Program

It will include:

  1. Organization Chart
  2. Job Role Profiles
  3. Career Paths/Roadmaps
  4. Training Schedules

7. Map Each Employee’s Career Path

For new hires, you will do this during onboarding. For existing employees, you will do this during performance reviews.

During the career mapping meeting, you will discuss the employee’s goals and expectations. You will assess their performance. You will schedule ongoing training. Include the career map in the employee’s files.

Career Paths Are Dynamic

Career goals are fluid. Employees discover new interests and aptitudes.

Your company may diversify or pivot. Stay flexible. Your Career Path Program will evolve. Review it frequently and update as necessary.

Incorporate Your Program

How do you make your Career Path Program part of your company culture? It’s starts with recruiting and continues throughout the employment life cycle.

How a Career Path Program Shapes Recruiting

The career roadmap is now intrinsic to each job description.

Include your Career Path Program in job interviews. It should be front and center, not an afterthought.

New hires in mid-career positions (such as management) will have traveled part of the path with former employers. This improves how hiring managers evaluate job applicants. It will help your recruiting team craft better job postings.

How a Career Path Program Shapes Onboarding and Training

Continue with onboarding. Make sure each new hire knows the possible roadmaps for their position. They will begin employment knowing you will invest in their career progression. This improves confidence from the outset.

How a Career Path Program Shapes Performance Reviews

Align career path benchmarks with performance review benchmarks. If your performance reviews have been unstructured, now’s the perfect time to formalize them. Your career roadmaps will guide you. (They are maps, after all.)

HRIS Streamline Career Path Programs

The best way to create and administer a Career Path Program is with a Human Resource Information System (HRIS). An all-inclusive software solution integrates career paths from recruiting through retirement.

By Liz Strikwerda