Employees are a company’s most valuable asset, but retaining them is a major challenge. With more than 9 million job openings in the U.S., the labor market continues to favor workers. As employees quit their current jobs for more attractive career opportunities, companies are vying to fill vacancies amid the ongoing talent shortage. To reduce employee turnover, companies should prioritize workforce development opportunities like career pathing.

Employers and Talent Benefit from Career Pathing

Career pathing is the process of aligning opportunities for employee career growth with corporate priorities. By understanding employees’ short- and long-term career goals, mentors and supervisors can collaborate with workers to develop a plan to achieve them.

Career pathing helps workers understand their potential for career progression within the company. Through this process, they gain opportunities to expand their knowledge, enhance existing skills and develop new ones while potentially earning a promotion or pay raise. At the same time, employers build an internal talent pipeline to meet current and future workforce needs.

Career Pathing Helps Attract, Retain and Replace Top Talent

It is well known that workers value benefits like competitive pay and flexibility, but career pathing is also a major draw. Career advancement is now top of mind for many job seekers. Candidates aren’t afraid to ask what types of training and development opportunities will be available to them and how they can expect their career to evolve over time. Gen Z applicants in particular are very focused on career progression, with research showing that young workers who don’t receive job training are more likely to quit than those who do.

Career pathing is also an effective way to increase employee satisfaction and engagement among an existing workforce. When employees have opportunities to upskill, reskill or advance within a company, they are more likely to stay. A recent study revealed that 63% of workers who quit their jobs cited a lack of advancement opportunities as one of the main reasons for leaving.

Companies can also use career pathing to support succession planning. Understanding the career goals of current employees helps organizations more strategically plan for upcoming retirements. Knowing which employees are interested in pursuing higher-level roles makes it easier to ensure they receive the proper training or certifications needed to be successful. It also provides time for retiring workers to pass on institutional knowledge and share key insights with the next generation of employees.

Utilizing Internal and External Resources for Learning Opportunities

Career pathing is a partnership between employees and employers. Workers must be willing to advocate for themselves and take the initiative to seek out advancement opportunities. In turn, corporate leaders need to foster an environment that supports professional growth through learning and development.

When thinking about career development strategies, employers should start by identifying gaps and opportunities within their workforce. Begin by asking key questions like:

  • What skill sets are most needed to advance organizational goals?
  • What resources are already available to employees?
  • Are there areas that need further investment?

From there, employers should leverage both internal and external resources to connect employees with the training and knowledge they want.

Relying on Internal Subject Matter Experts

Companies should tap into senior talent to take on mentorship or training roles. Mentorship, shadowing and educational programs like informal brown bag presentations empower tenured employees to share their insights with co-workers. While less experienced or newer employees gain hands-on training and build confidence, senior employees receive recognition for their contributions and expertise. This acknowledgment can go a long way with employee retention, especially given that many employees are willing to leave their jobs if they feel unappreciated.

Finding Additional Training Through Outside Resources

In addition to utilizing internal resources, companies can also incorporate external employee training and skill development programs. This could mean offering online learning modules, partnering with outside organizations that award professional certifications, sending employees to relevant conferences or providing tuition reimbursement for continuing education.

Final Thoughts

Prioritizing career pathing and workforce development can reduce turnover rates, attract top talent, increase employee satisfaction and support succession planning. Career pathing aligns employee growth with organizational goals, offering advancement opportunities and skill development. It fosters a partnership between employees and employers, utilizing internal expertise and external resources for learning while empowering the workforce and creating a culture of learning. Prioritizing career pathing is a winning strategy for companies aiming to retain talent and thrive in a competitive business landscape.