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Chapter 9

Creating Customized Employee Pathways

While customers are clamoring for personalized service, employees are also looking for customization—of their career paths.

Across the board, workers aren’t happy when they have to fit the mold. They want to work for companies where each employee is treated differently, based on one’s own personal talents and circumstances.

The workforce of the future will not be homogeneous—you need an organization that’s comfortable with that and can adapt and customize programs, practices, and approaches to fit.

Deon MacMillan, Chief Human Resources Officer, Ardent Mills

During the hiring process, some candidates are seeking long-term careers while others want short-term jobs. But often, the short-term job seekers are just as valuable as the long-term seekers because of the breadth of experience they bring.

When we go to recruit talent, you can tell from someone’s resume whether they want to stay for the short haul or the long haul.

Tom Fobert, Manager of Enterprise Talent Acquisition, Sierra Nevada Space Systems

Diversity of work is incredibly important to retention and employee happiness. Diversity of perspective also helps a business to make better decisions. Rather than following a single defined career path, employees today are expected to move around and get experience across the company.

Once a worker is hired, the identification of career pathways starts with customized training—helping workers to understand how they can contribute using their unique skills and talents. Empowering employees to stand out from peer groups also helps to increase engagement and improve productivity.

We are encouraging businesses to create visibility for employees to understand that when they enter a job, they don’t have to remain in that one job—but they could take either a sideways or upward progression. It’s really a lattice structure, not a ladder.

Ellen Golombek, Executive Director, Colorado Department of Labor and Employment

Some employees are going back to school for multiple degrees in order to shift their career paths and start over at different companies in different industries. However, companies can decrease turnover by providing visibility for employees into the lateral moves that can shift career paths within an organization.

Today the U.S. economy is 34 percent freelance—however, that number includes moonlighters. Although there is debate over whether “pure” freelancers are on the rise, companies should prepare to make their staffing models more flexible in order to accommodate freelancers and obtain niche skill sets.

People will soon be doing more project-based work rather than working for an individual organization.

Dana Barton, Business Relations and Employment Development Director, Pikes Peak Workforce Center

However, no matter what career path is desired, it is ultimately up to an individual to make it happen. While Baby Boomers might generally wait for promotions to be offered to them based on tenure or performance, Millennials will ask for the opportunities they want—and those who aren’t comfortable defining their own paths will be left behind.