The Importance of Career Pathing

This year, it’s expected 50 percent of the workforce will be Millennials.  HR professionals have been preparing for that for some time.  Millennials, themselves, are more ambitious than other generations.  They have an unprecedented drive to succeed in work and advance in the future.

One strategy to achieve this goal is called career pathing.

Defining the Strategy

Put simply, career pathing is that process by which the employee and, usually, the employer chart a path toward the employee’s future development goals. The destination, as well as the steps, experience, and development needed to get there are included.

The challenge for HR professionals is knowing what knowledge, skills, personal characteristics, and experience are needed to reach the intended goal. For the employee, the challenge is about examining whether or not she or he possesses the qualities deemed necessary for the job they wish to pursue.

Engagement and Retention

Employees want to see and understand the opportunities available within their company. They expect to see career development opportunities while being satisfied and motivated.  In fact, 75 percent of Millennials are willing to use personal time to grow their skills and learn when their employer provides the right guidance tools.  As a result, career pathing is an important factor in other strategies including employee engagement and employee retention. It also provides companies with the opportunity to differentiate itself from competitors.

From Larry Brand’s perspective, this is heavy focus on lattice career pathing.  Brand is the Chief Human Resources Officer for Elkay Manufacturing.

“Think of a lattice that a plant grows up, as opposed to a career ladder, which is what Baby Boomers and Gen Xers are used to,” Brand said.  “The lattice means you could move one to the left, one to the right, one up.  In larger organizations you’ll have a millennial that will even take a step down; a small step down if they know getting that learning experience means they can take one step up in 18-months to two years.”

Having said that though, Brand explained HR professionals using this must keep workers moving along the lattice into other functional areas.  As it happens, HR will see more talented people moving around and being challenged to improve.  But it also plays a part in other strategies.

“Meanwhile, you’ve got succession planning going on as you’re retaining these people you’re seeing what they can do and you’re hoping, as you add them into the succession plan, that whether somebody retires or somebody resigns that you have a pool of people you can pull from so you don’t have to constantly go to the outside to recruit key positions,” Brand said.

In the end, career pathing helps drive consistency so that as people develop, they have clarity on the knowledge, the skills, and behaviors that are required for them to succeed at different goals or different levels.”

In Summation

Career pathing can be a critical component in employee engagement and employee retention.  Organizations who assist employees in developing this career path ensure the employee feels a deeper connection to the company and thus, will continue to work for the company in the years to come.


by Mason Stevenson
Originally posted on


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