Career paths provide a roadmap for employees to grow their careers at a company. They map out potential roles and the skills, knowledge, competencies, experience, and personal characteristics required for each position as an employee moves up in the organization.
Unlike traditional job ladders, career paths can be flexible and allow employees to move laterally, cross-departmentally or more deeply into a specialty throughout their careers. They can also be designed to align with the individual’s values and goals, not just the needs of an organization.
A well-defined career path can motivate employees to remain at the company and help them reach their long-term career goals. This helps companies reduce costs associated with replacing employees, including recruiting fees, training costs and lost productivity. It also helps organizations meet their short- and long-term business objectives with less turnover.
It’s important for managers to be aware of the career paths they have available to their team members and to work with each employee to create an individualized roadmap for growth. They can do this by including conversations about a person’s career path in performance reviews and one-on-one meetings.
It’s also helpful to have a career development program in place that supports the creation of career paths, such as a mentoring or coaching program. Additionally, some companies offer an industry institute or other exploratory events that let employees explore the career options within their organization and determine if those are a good fit.