How Career Pathing Keeps Employees from Quitting

American workers have no problem quitting their jobs to find a new one.  3.4 million people quit their jobs in April of 2018, double the 1.7 million that were laid off. 

It’s called job hopping, and it usually works out better for the employee than the employer.  According to the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, job-hopping tends to lead to better pay.  Those that switched saw, roughly, a 30% increase in annual pay compared to those that stayed in their jobs.  For employers, they saw a wealth of institutional knowledge walk out the door when those employees quit.  Not only that, but their cultures and employee morale suffered as well.

So, who is primarily benefitting from job hopping?  Younger workers. The U.S. Census Bureau says about 6.5% of workers under the age of 35 changed jobs in the first quarter of last year versus 3.1% of those ages 35-54.

When considering those statistics, it’s no surprise employers are scrambling to find a way to keep those employees in house.  Some have found a respite in career pathing.

Development is a Struggle

While career pathing is a great answer to the problem, it highlights a series of other issues for HR professionals.

Regardless of the reason, many struggle in their efforts to develop employees.  The American Psychological Association’s Center for Organizational Excellence says 61% of employees say their employer offers development opportunities for career and soft skills, but half of those say they don’t have enough time to participate in career development activities or their employer doesn’t provide opportunities that ultimately lead to advancement.

Here’s one thing HR professionals should keep in mind:  formal program or no formal program, there are plenty of ways employees can work on the skills they need to advance their careers.  Here are some ways to integrate career pathing and development into everyday activities that will help keep talent in a company’s talent pipeline.

Goal setting

Before starting down the path, it is important HR professionals understand where an employee’s career goals intersect with available opportunities.

First, consider the employee’s background and what they’ve accomplished in their careers so far.  Then, look forward into the needs of the organization.  Where will the organization potentially be in the next few years and how would the employee fit into that potential future?  Finally, as previously stated, find the place the two issues intersect.  Where do the employee’s skills and interests intersect with the company’s potential future?  Based on that, determine how best to lay out the career path and the development needed to achieve the goal.

Knowledge Share

Career pathing is not just about creating the step-by-step process of moving up the corporate ladder.  As eluded to previously, there is a developmental component that must be understood.

How do HR professionals provide development opportunities to employees?

Look to everyday events.  Encourage leaders within the organization to get involved.  For instance, when coming out of a meeting, leaders should ask their teams what they learned.  Furthermore, ask how that lesson or knowledge can be applied to their roles or how it can better serve the team, and ultimately, the company.

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When employees do find time for formal development, urge the employees to knowledge share.  The transfer of learning by discussing, presenting, or writing what they got from the development opportunity can be shared with others.  It also extends the value of the company’s investment in the material.

Mentoring also provides an opportunity for knowledge share.  Is there a person of authority within the organization that can share his or her experiences with an up and coming employee? 

Lateral Moves

It’s easy to get lost in the idea that career pathing leads to a C-Suite position.  The majority of employees want to be the person calling the shots one day.  While that is a nice goal, achievement is not always based on an upward trajectory.  Sometimes, there are places where that path levels off for a period of time.

These leveling-off periods are lateral moves.

The best way to describe this is to ignore the concept of a corporate ladder and move to the corporate lattice concept.  Unlike the a corporate ladder, a lattice framework give the employee an opportunity to make a move to a different position that is not a promotion, but instead offers the opportunity to gain new skills; skills that, if mastered, could lead to a promotion. 

The Money Case for Career Pathing

HR professionals know there is a significant amount of money lost when an employee exits a company.  In the United States alone, direct replacement of an employee could cost somewhere between 50-60 percent of the employee’s annual salary.  That’s according to the Society for Human Resource Management.  Furthermore, total costs associated with turnover range from 90-200 percent of annual salary. 

Career pathing and these investment-in-the-employee opportunities can provide significant reason for workers considering an exit to, in fact, choose to stay.

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Image provided by Pexels.


Mason Stevenson
HR Exchange Network