News & Resources

So You Have a Career Path – Now What?

A career path is a great thing. When formed strategically—mindful of employee development objectives, interests and skills—a career path can put employee and employer on the same road, aligning business and personal goals. Indeed, a Willis Towers Watson study suggests that only 33 percent of employers say that management effectively discusses career development prospects during performance conversations, a consideration that might play into the fact that 41 percent of employees believe they’d have to leave their current employer to achieve development goals. Clearly, when employees enjoy a career path laid on a solid foundation tailored to their individual aptitudes and interests, everyone benefits.

Yet it’s all too easy to lay a career path on shaky ground. A career path offered that fails to take into consideration employees’ specific attributes, the role they perform and their development goals is doomed to fail. This is a fact members of Business Champions know all too well. The group, represented by leaders at top organizations across the United States, representing a wide variety of sectors including agriculture, health care and retail, actively share workforce development strategies that work, including those that facilitate the strategic implementation of career pathing initiatives.

Unsure if your career pathing initiative is designed to prepare your employees for success? Here are some examples of Business Champions members working to create a foundation for sound, strategic career pathing.

Facilitate learning opportunities

Tuition assistance has become a popular employee incentive, and for good reason. By offering the incentive, employees are more likely to earn the education that will help them achieve their personal and career development goals. In turn, employers benefit from increased employee engagement and from the new knowledge employees bring to their roles.

Cigna’s Educational Reimbursement Program (ERP), for example, provides financial support for undergraduate, post-graduate, and post-licensure degree program and certification completion for employees of all levels, both part- and full-time. In doing so, employees are provided a solid foundation for internal career development—perfect for developing a career path. Moreover, in a Lumina Foundation study of Cigna’s program, it was found that for every dollar the company puts into the program, it is returned and generates an additional $1.29 in savings.

Provide education advising

Education advising isn’t just for young college students. On the contrary, education advising can play a significant role in the education attainment aspirations of students of any age and at any stage of their careers. When taking advantage of education advising, employees are made to understand their career path in the context of the education they seek, helping them understand the skills and training they’ll need to move along the career path they’re provided.

McDonald’s Archways to Opportunity provides eligible employees from both corporate and participating franchise owned restaurants with education opportunities that promote both personal success and career advancement. McDonald’s offers more than tuition assistance alone, however. Partnered with CAEL, McDonald’s provides eligible restaurant employees with academic advising, through which individuals can connect learning outcomes with career development goals. CAEL’s advisors provide guidance in the areas of financial aid, education options, resources and more, helping them establish goals and creating actionable plans to achieve them.

Invest in frontline employees

Career pathing shouldn’t be an initiative exclusively for higher-level employees. By ignoring frontline and mid-level employees with a career pathing program, an organization can miss out on valuable succession planning opportunities. After all, today’s frontline employees are tomorrow’s leaders. Career pathing is useful for employees at all career levels, providing a line-of-sight into future development opportunities down the road—and valuable insight into the skills and knowledge necessary to reach them.

Anthem recently extended its efforts to encourage employees to obtain a postsecondary education to employees at all levels of the organization. Anthem partners with College for America at Southern New Hampshire University, which provides discounted tuition rates that Anthem’s $5,000 annual assistance can cover. Through the partnership, employees are granted an education that prepares them to better understand and respond to business priorities, expediting career development.

Career pathing is an employee development initiative well worth investing in. As is the case with any investment, proper planning and strategic implementation of such a program pays dividends.