HR Insights
March 21, 2024

Why typical career pathing initiatives fail

Close the gap and improve talent mapping at your organisation.

Table of Contents

The best employers know their employees have their own ambitions and want opportunities to advance in their career. Dayforce Pulse of Talent research found that 84% of respondents said having a clear career path would make them more loyal to their employer. But today’s employers are stuck finding the right balance of providing employees the personalised experience they want and driving productivity to achieve operational goals for the business.  

Ask any HR leader and they’ll say they have confidence in their organisation’s ability to develop their talent. But according to LinkedIn’s 2024 Workplace Learning Report, only 33% of organisations have internal mobility programs, and just 1 in 5 employees have strong confidence in their ability to make an internal move. 

Leaders know that successful career pathing is essential for their talent strategy to plan for the future and better retain their workers. Internal mobility can support employee productivity and help them find their purpose at work all while retaining qualified talent in house. But driving internal mobility, retention, and skill development requires more momentum and employee engagement, as well as support from your systems.  

Today’s HR leaders need to balance what employees want and the pressure from the C-suite for increased productivity. The organisations that win will embrace AI, automation, and self-service to increase engagement, provide personalised access to developing skills, and help prevent top talent from going elsewhere to find the career opportunities they desire.  

Where your talent management strategy is breaking down 

Nearly 4 in 10 workers said there is a different role with their current employer that better matches their skillset. So why aren’t more employers helping their people make the internal shift?  

Lack of defined plan 

Many organisations have set clear job roles and defined expectations, but their talent management efforts become a little more unstructured from that point on as employees can graduate or laterally move between roles. 

Narrow scope 

Many people leaders approach career pathing on an individualised basis. While this personalisation can be beneficial to that employee, the lack of organisation-wide strategy means not every employee receives a fair opportunity for this type of mentorship.  

Limited follow-up 

Middle managers often start off with good intentions. However, competing job priorities can take focus and this short term outlook on career development can lose momentum over time.  

Fear of churn 

Some people can be hesitant to train people for fear that they will leave their current role and disrupt the current team’s pursuit of broader operational goals. The fact of doing business is people will naturally change roles throughout their careers and healthy workforces continue to adapt.  

Unsure of skills 

It’s hard to predict the future. Many employees don’t know what skills they’ll need for their individual career paths and many people leaders aren’t sure what skills ets they’ll need on their team in the future as the world changes.  

Low engagement 

If your career development initiatives aren’t engaging your people, they’re not going to be motivated to follow through on continued training. 

How to build a career pathing strategy that sticks 

Today’s workers are quicker than ever to move from an employer that doesn’t offer the best experience. That means HR leaders need to figure out how to meaningfully demonstrate their commitment to internal mobility while showing its effect on productivity to get all of leadership on board.  

AI has the power to help companies develop and retain their employees when used correctly. When used as a support, it can help provide context to a decision-maker like an employee or business leader.  

Employees are also supportive of using intelligent technologies like AI-powered career pathing for personalised experiences at scale. Eighty percent of 14th Annual Pulse of Talent respondents are interested in their employer using AI to recommend internal development opportunities. The world is changing quickly, and leaders need a sustainable way to offer personalised career development plans that put their people on their desired paths while building the next generation of in-demand skills, right in house.  

Build skills for the next role 

With the right systems in place to make personalised recommendations, HR leaders can make skills central to their talent management strategy by helping employees develop the skills they need for current and future roles. Understanding the skills required to change roles is the first step. To make your skills initiative impactful, take action by adding activities that help employees develop the skills they need to further their careers.  

Simplify personalised development plans at scale 

Guiding employees toward their own career plans may sound time-consuming to personalise and not scalable for HR teams. But organisations can reimagine internal mobility with personalised AI-powered recommendations that help match employees to open roles based on their skills and interests.  

Drive retention with career pathing 

Give your employees actionable steps to take in their career plans while providing managers the opportunity to guide employees towards their goals. Even better, increasing internal mobility can help reduce voluntary turnover and costly attrition when you help identify career interests and provide next-step recommendations, giving employees actionable steps to take to prepare for the other roles.  

Improve equity across career pathing 

Providing equitable opportunities can be challenging when managers are offering one-off development plans. A defined talent-mapping strategy supported by technology can help organisations improve equity across their talent management practices and help find best-fit employees without bias.  

Increase employee engagement 

Without employee buy-in, your career pathing initiatives won’t get off the ground. Tailored opportunities that are based on skills and individual career aspirations can help increase engagement, so your organisation can better develop your people while helping improve the employee experience simultaneously.  

Match people to work 

As employees ask for more opportunities, leaders need to be able to see their internal skills pool and talent breakdown before nudging employees into career plans. Providing reporting into existing skills can help managers understand gaps, match people with best-fit work, and help plan for the future of their teams.  

Improving performance reviews 

Performance reviews are an essential part of the employee-employer relationship to track progress towards common goals and create a clear path for success with development plans. Employees can leverage generative AI to help write performance reviews based on goals, conversations, and performance touchpoints. This can lead to more objective evaluations and more efficient performance review cycles for managers and their direct reports. AI can help support managers by identifying patterns and trends in employee performance that may not be immediately noticeable.  


What would be possible if employees had more visibility into potential career paths? In a constantly changing workplace, your talent management strategy needs to be more consistent, scalable, and personalised to better engage and retain your people.  

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