Written by Chris Russell
21st July, 2021
The Benefits of Career Progression Planning
A decade ago, before Honeywell bought Sparta Systems, the company embarked on an aggressive growth program.
With so many new hires and the tech company’s desire to keep its org chart as flat as possible, workers were understandably worried about their career advancement. To keep them engaged, Sparta Systems launched an equally aggressive career progression planning program that promoted lateral movement opportunities to round out future leaders and enable others to master new skills and explore new jobs within the company.
This career progression planning involved customizing training and learning to meet not just the needs of the organization, but also the aspirations of each employee. In just a few years, the company’s annual loss of the talent Sparta didn’t want to lose plummeted to 1%, while the turnover rate fell below that of most of the rest of the industry.
Modern Day Career Progression Planning
Career progression planning, often called career pathing, used to mean the rungs on the corporate ladder. Today the process is broader, encompassing not just those expecting to become company managers and leaders, but those who want to improve their skills, take on new challenges or become subject matter experts in their current role.
“Well-administered career progression [planning],” says The Croner Company, “is an effective means to help retain and continue to motivate key employees.”
“The underlying mechanism of all such plans is the orderly movement of employees, either vertically to positions of greater responsibility or horizontally to positions encompassing a breadth of company functions.”
A study by The Work Institute found a lack of career growth and development opportunity was the leading reason for voluntary turnover. It accounted for 21% of all reasons employees changed jobs in 2017, which was the 8th consecutive year it topped the list of the reasons for worker turnover. Four years later, it still led all other reasons for turnover.
Retention of your best people is not the only benefit of career progression planning. When employees have opportunities to develop and grow in their skills and expertise, engagement improves and the more engaged workers an organization has the higher the productivity and the more competitive it is.
Of equal benefit to the organization is having workers trained to move into the new jobs of the future.
In the past, career progression planning was a time-consuming process that involved inventorying the skills and competencies of each job in the organization, then building development plans around each. Employees opted-in or were invited to participate in the program.
Now, AI-enabled technology analyzes job roles and resumes and identifies next role candidates. The technology also builds the career path, detailing what skills each employee has and what they need to learn or improve for the next step, whether up or lateral.
Writing in Forbes, Mahe Bayireddi, CEO of Phenom, a vendor in AI-enabled career pathing, explains, “By doing much of the heavy lifting, AI can efficiently match employees to suitable next-step positions based on their profiles.”
All career progression planning must involve front line managers to encourage and coach their team members to investigate opportunities. Development programs must take into account the needs and strategic goals of the organization but be tailored to what employees need and want.
“As career opportunities increase,” the Work Institute says, “Employers must take steps to understand the needs, preferences and goals of their workers or miss out on opportunities to keep workers that they need.”
Bayireddi concludes his Forbes article with this: “Effective career progression plans will soon be the expectation, not the exception.”
Contribution by John Zappe