How to Create a Career Path Planning Framework (+Examples)


Developing internal frameworks, such as career planning, that prioritize internal growth is an effective way to support your employees, boost retention, and ensure that they flourish in their careers – along with your organization.

What Is Career Path Planning?

Career path planning demonstrates the steps necessary for an individual to reach their career goals with a company or over the more extensive course of their career. This process involves taking an inventory of the employee’s knowledge, skills, experience, and personal traits and determining which areas need to be developed to reach career goals. 

Career path planning involves setting actionable short- and long-term goals for individual employees and establishing a path, or several paths, to meet them. These plans must be customized and structured but have room to flex as circumstances change. Employers should formally support them to benefit the trajectory of an employee’s career and the company’s success.

Benefits of Investing in Career Path Development For Employees

Career plans benefit employers in addition to employees because they set a clear tone for growth expectations and encourage employees to excel in their roles.  

1. Employee development and retention

Employees encouraged to advance their careers within an organization are less likely to leave to pursue roles with a different company. Investing in learning and employee development initiatives like career path planning provides incentives for team members to stay and grow with the company, benefiting all parties involved. This system pairs well with performance development planning, which allows employers and managers to determine developmental opportunities within the organization. 

2. Allows organizations to hire from within

Career path planning increases the appeal of recruiting internally because the pool of productive, knowledgeable, and engaged candidates increases exponentially. Establishing paths for employees to take as they grow streamlines the hiring process for HR and introduces plenty of cost-saving opportunities as well.

3. Talent acquisition

In cases where hiring from within isn’t ideal, using career path planning to build a development-centered company culture can help with external talent acquisition. Providing ample opportunities for advancement encourages ambitious candidates to apply for open positions.

4. Creates an employee-centric culture

Implementing career path planning also has a huge impact on company culture. This practice sets a precedent for team members to make them feel valued, knowing that leadership is invested in the success and growth of employees. 

5. Greater workplace productivity

Providing a clear understanding of what employees will gain by meeting their goals is an incredible incentive. When employees directly observe the impact of achieving milestones, it empowers them to succeed in their current and future roles.

6. Increased employee engagement

Providing a clear understanding of what employees will gain by meeting their goals is an incredible incentive. When employees directly observe the impact of achieving milestones, it empowers them to succeed in their current and future roles.

Related Resources

How to Create an Employee Career Path Framework

The career path mapping process must be structured and carried out consistently across an organization. Here are several steps you can take in order to kick-start this process.

1. Get your house in order

Gather role information across departments to begin building the structure of your career path mapping plan. Update organizational charts, solidify job descriptions, and clarify the number of levels within different job families. It will be helpful to survey managers to find out the most frequently traveled career paths within your organization. 

Additionally, it is necessary to communicate with HR to determine employee retention and turnover rates over the past several years. This will help establish a baseline for analytics and make it possible to assess the efficacy of career path planning efforts over time. 

2. Establish the framework

Career path planning is typically based upon a self-assessment document to be filled by the employees to take inventory of their skills, accomplishments, goals, and interests. Begin by determining the structure of this document. Will it be a narrative survey or a simple spreadsheet? What level of detail will be required? Will this document differ at all by department or job family?


Next, establish how these documents will be used. Are they simply references for compensation and promotions? Or will this be a bouncing-off point to discuss development between team members and their managers? How involved will HR be in the process?


Lastly, build out a demo career map. This might be a lot of work, but in the process, the questions that need to be asked should reveal themselves. Check back with department leaders to determine if further specificity is necessary. At this point, most of the heavy lifting is done, and the process can be replicated and tweaked to cover even more particular circumstances.

3. Let the career path planning begin

Managers must plan a time to meet with their employees and discuss career path mapping. This meeting involves working through the self-assessment document together, identifying skills, abilities, and previous accomplishments in addition to long-term goals and broader interests. 

Managers must also work with their team members to determine which positions fit well according to their career goals and discuss the responsibilities, workloads, and other unique aspects of those potential roles. 

Once you’ve discussed options, create a career map that delineates a path forward. This path must list the actionable goals to be completed by the employees, pinpoint the skillsets to develop, and mention the timelines to reach different goals.

This meeting is also an excellent opportunity for management to solicit honest feedback about employee experiences, asking about the different aspects of their current roles that they enjoy or could do without. It is critical to record this feedback to be used later as well. 

How to Measure the Impact of Career Path Planning

Once the career plan has been rolled out, refer to the retention and turnover metrics and employee experience data collected previously. Document the frequency of promotions and lateral moves over time and use statistical analyses to determine the likely impact of career path planning efforts on the organization’s success. Establish a plan for tracking improvement and optimizing career path planning efforts.

3 Corporate Examples of Career Path Planning

1. Kaiser Permanente Health Insurance

Kaiser Permanente is a nonprofit health insurance that operates its own healthcare facilities. This organization has its employees create personalized career plans with a tool called PathSavvy. This online platform allows employees to build a profile specifying skills and interests and explore internal roles that match those profiles. This tool provides suggestions for filling knowledge and competency gaps and compiles an action plan that can be shared with mentors and managers to get the ball rolling.

2. Progressive Auto Insurance

Prominent car insurance company, Progressive Insurance, approaches career path planning and employee retention in a way that prioritizes coaching and continuous improvement. They offer several tools for employees to shape their own career paths, including an internal database listing different positions and the required experience for those roles. 

Through this system, employees can explore other career options and gain well-rounded experience without needing to start over at a new company. They also allow team members to try out new roles temporarily, swap jobs to expand business knowledge, engage in employee resource groups, and even create a multicultural leadership development program to accelerate employee growth. 

3. Buffer

Buffer is a widely used social media management software company that has tried out many different approaches to management and structure over the years. This company uses a two-path framework that considers that not everybody fits well with the traditional “management track.” 

In this framework, some team members are “makers” while others are “managers,” allowing for both horizontal and vertical progress. Through this framework, all employees are fully aware of what’s necessary to reach their goals and can work with their teammates to forge ahead and grow with their organization. 

Digital Adoption Platforms Help You Achieve Employee Development At Scale

A well-trained, dynamic, and motivated workforce is crucial to any organization. The best way to raise employees to such standards is to invest in their continuous development and career path planning to foster an engaged workforce, which is proven to be productive, profitable, and motivated.

Invest in digital adoption platforms like Whatfix to get the maximum ROI on your employee development programs. Using DAPs as your training software empowers employees to upskill themselves on the latest tools, applications, or processes without disrupting their workflow and productivity. It’s the best resource to make your employee development plans future-ready and valuable.

Want to see how Whatfix can transform your employee development plans into powerful drivers of growth? Sign up for a personalized demo today.

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