Learning & Development, Talent

Helping Employees See a Clear Growth Pathway

Today’s workforce, especially the younger generations, values growth and development. In fact, the Society for Human Resource Management’s (SHRM) Skills Gap 2019 report indicates that “over 50% of respondents feel that skills shortages have worsened or greatly worsened in their organizations in the last two years,” says Gabriel S. Clevenger, assistant vice president of enrollment management with Champlain College Online in Burlington, Vermont.


In addition, the 2019 Work Institutes Retention Report indicates that the highest driver of potentially preventable, voluntary turnover is career development. It’s a category that has grown 32% since 2013.

Employees say that “lack of career development opportunities” was one of the most critical factors in their decisions to leave an organization—and that reason has grown 170% since 2010, says Clevenger.

Clearing a Path

“Access to a clear career path and continued education to support it presents a major opportunity to help employers close the gap,” Clevenger says.

Champlain College’s Adult Viewpoints research has looked at this issue. Its 2019 Survey “Economic Security and Advancement in the Workplace” indicates that “while over half of respondents see pathways within their organization for their current job, nearly a third don’t believe those pathways exist, and 17% don’t know—meaning employers need to do a better job of both creating those pathways and communicating them more clearly,” says Clevenger.

How? “All employers should introduce career pathing systems or other related solutions,” says Clevenger. “These systems offer measurable impacts that improve retention. Software as a Service (SaaS) career pathing platforms can increase employee engagement, foster transparency of internal employment opportunities, identify skill gaps at individual and organizational levels, and provide employees with learning opportunities aimed at preparing them for their next steps, or several steps, within the organization.”

A Starting Point

It all starts, of course, with conversations. Managers and supervisors play an important role in engaging with employees on discussions related to career growth and both professional and personal development.

Learning and development (L&D) and HR professionals can play an important role here, too, especially related to one specific barrier that may exist in some organizations, according to Clevenger: hoarding.

“One specific challenge is talent hoarding, where managers consciously or unconsciously limit access to development in fear high performers might grow into other roles and/or departments, leaving them in need,” Clevenger says. “Talent hoarding is not readily visible or identifiable, but may result in leaders and managers not fully adopting impactful employee development solutions.” 

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