What Is Career Progression Planning—And How Can It Help Your Employees Succeed?

Sumita Mehta

Employee engagement matters. It matters to your employees—but it also matters to the health and profitability of your business. 
 

That's the conclusion of a recent analysis of engagement from Gallup. According to that study, companies whose workers describe themselves as "highly engaged" are 21% more profitable than those with less engaged employees.
 

While there are a variety of factors that push engagement, from flexible work schedules to diversity and inclusion initiatives, one of the principal drivers is internal advancement opportunities. 
 

And that’s where career progression planning can help. 

 

Employees Care About Career Advancement Opportunities

Tangible opportunities for career advancement within your business are a significant contributor to the engagement of your workers. Unfortunately, fewer than 30% of American workers are satisfied with the career advancement opportunities available in the companies for which they work. When that happens, they become less satisfied with their jobs and less productive. 
 


Related: Is a Broken Employee Experience Affecting Your Customer Experience?


 

Creating a solid, company-wide career advancement strategy and providing appropriate job opportunities for employees can have a significant positive impact on employee engagement and productivity. 

 

Enter Career Progression Planning

Typically, businesses limit their understanding of "career advancement" to vertical moves within the company—the usual "climbing the corporate ladder". In doing so, they inadvertently miss other strategies (such as lateral moves) which can be equally effective. 
 

The totality of advancement strategies which, separately and in unison, both reinforce career opportunities and boost engagement are often referred to as "career progression planning," which Croner defines as:
 

“The orderly movement of employees, either vertically to positions of greater responsibility or horizontally to positions encompassing a breadth of company functions.”
 


Related: 3 Tactics to Future-Proof Your Employees



How Can Your Business Effectively Leverage A Career Progression Planning Strategy?

Career progression planning, or career pathing, is critically important to the success of your business, but effectively leveraging it requires a smart plan. Of course, every business is different, and each has different employees with unique needs and concerns. 
 

That said, the lion's share of businesses will benefit from best practice progression planning strategies, including the following 4:
 

1.  Align Your Plan With Broader Company Goals

As noted above, your business is unique—as are the goals and metrics which help it grow and thrive. In other words, your career progression strategy should be aligned with the broader strategy to take your business to the next level. 
 

Make sure that your business plan is sound, and that the goals you've established are realistic, measurable and attainable. Then, link key elements of your career progression plan to those larger goals—for example, if you want to expand your digital marketing strategy, you might need to provide additional training for members of your sales, marketing, and IT teams.
 

2.  Revisit Your Organizational Structure

Businesses sometimes leave their organizational chart to gather dust on a shelf. If you want your career progression plan to succeed, you need to ensure that your chart is current, accurately reflecting the titles, roles, and responsibilities of every employee.
 

Among the best ways to "audit" your organizational structure is to bring key stakeholders, such as your leadership team, into the planning process. They can help you identify any gaps and training needs that will empower employees to manage new responsibilities, as well as key opportunities for vertical or lateral moves.
 

3.  Tailor The Plan to Accommodate Diverse Employee Goals

Not every employee necessarily wants to climb the corporate ladder by advancing to a managerial role. Some might prefer obtaining greater breadth of experience over increased responsibility and accountability. To be optimally effective, your progression plan needs to accommodate all of your employees, including those who might be interested in a lateral move.
 

Your progression plan should be a collaborative effort between you and your workers. Some of those employees will likely want to enhance their resumes by becoming subject matter experts in their current roles, in which case advanced training might be in order. Others might want to branch out and gain experience in related job areas—for example, a marketing team member who wants to add sales experience to their portfolio.
 

4.  Communicate—Then, Communicate Again (And Again)

Your career progression plan isn't likely to succeed if employees don't know about it, or the specific ways in which they can leverage it to their benefit. Be sure to involve employees in every phase of plan development, from roll out to final documentation. Make sure the components of the process (such as how employees can schedule a meeting with human resources to discuss their goals and next steps) are broadly distributed across various communications channels, including departmental meetings, emails, and your internal company portal.

 

Start Driving Employee Engagement

Developing a career progression plan to help your business—and your employees—succeed might appear at first blush an overwhelming challenge, but the stakes couldn't be higher. A smart progression plan will improve employee satisfaction and engagement, reduce attrition, boost productivity, and increase revenues. 
 

To increase the likelihood of success, follow best practice strategies that have helped businesses like yours succeed. That includes linking advancement goals to larger business strategies, identifying key stakeholders and high performers within your company, recognizing that the needs and goals of each employee are unique, and effectively communicating with your workers throughout the process.

Interested in discovering new ways to bring awareness to employee development opportunities? Join us for a webinar on November 12!