Do Career Paths Improve Employee Retention?

by Mike O'Neill

Is developing career paths worth the effort? In a word…YES. The downside of a booming economy is the resulting talent crunch. The demand for talented employees is at an all-time high. Businesses are increasingly competing with each other for talent and job seekers know it.

Employee turnover is expensive. Replacing an employee who quits costs, on average 21% of their annual pay. One of the drivers of turnover is easy to overlook; allowing employees to stagnate in their current role. Employees who don’t see a clear progression from their current role to a better position ultimately turn to opportunities elsewhere.

Organizations who establish clear strategies on how to grow their talent from within:

Differentiate themselves in the labor market. Organizations that do not invest in training & development lose valuable employees to their competition. One way that employers can differentiate themselves from competitors is by investing in their employee’s career development.

Retain key workers. Managing employee perceptions of career development opportunities is a key to enhancing engagement and loyalty among employees. Providing career paths is an important part of employee retention, along with coaching & mentoring employees with high potential and moving proven performers into new roles that fit skills developed over time.

A tool that managers and HR professionals can use during career planning discussions with employees is career mapping. Career Maps help employees think strategically about their career paths and how to meet their career goals within the organization rather than leave it to move ahead.

Career Mapping involves three steps:

  1. Self-assessment. A manager engages with the employee to explore his or her knowledge, skills and abilities, as well as past experiences, accomplishments and interests.
  2. Individualized Career Map. Creating an individualized Career Map involves identifying other positions within the organization that meet the employee’s interests. The position may be a lateral move into a different job family or a promotion. In either case, the position should capitalize on the employee’s past experiences, interests and motivation while at the same time requiring the employee to develop a certain degree of new knowledge, skills and abilities to give him or her something to work toward and stay engaged.
  3. Exploring other opportunities. The final step in career mapping is to explore other job opportunities within the organization as they become available.

To better retain employees, set a clear career path for employees, pay them competitively and cultivate a healthy workplace culture.


You cannot push any one up a ladder unless he be willing to climb a little himself.

– Andrew Carnegie

Related Reading

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}