Organizational Wellness

A 5-Step Guide To Career Progression for HR Leaders

Jun 24, 2024
Last Updated Jun 24, 2024

“Where do you see yourself in five years?” is a common job interview question — and the essence of career progression. That asking question in an interview has prompted you to consider where you envision yourself in the next few years. 

Perhaps you’re working toward a promotion or earning a certificate. Or you might picture yourself switching to a new path in your career. Your entire working life is a long one and can be full of exciting developments!

Whatever your goals look like, it’s likely that most everyone in your company wants to progress in their careers, no matter where they’re at right now. In fact, research shows that 76% of employees are looking for opportunities to expand their careers. 

As an HR leader, you have an opportunity to provide opportunities that attract great talent and help boost retention. Your organization can provide a structured framework to help your team grow and achieve their goals. 

Discover why you should focus on development and how to craft a framework that empowers your team members!

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What Is Career Progression? 

Career progression is the process of moving forward in one’s working life. That might mean becoming a leader or spearheading a new initiative. Or it could involve job hopping and trying something entirely new. Development can happen in so many ways, and the exact path will vary depending on individual goals.  

Here are a few examples of what career progression could look like: 

  • Moving from an intern to an entry-level position 
  • Getting promoted to department head
  • Moving from one position to another to learn more skills
  • Shifting from product development to leading a project team

In HR, you have the chance to create programs and opportunities for people to experience this growth. One way to do this is to design a career progression framework. 

What Is a Career Progression Framework? 

This set developmental structure is an occupational roadmap of how an employee can progress through your organization. It ideally includes specific steps an individual can take to move to different positions or to receive new training and skills. Traditionally, HR professionals will write this framework up in an official document, but you could also create a digital map as well. 

5 Benefits of Career Progression

Taking the time to create structured development opportunities can help your organization experience: 

  1. Enhanced Job Satisfaction

Having a clear option for moving forward in your career can be highly motivating. In fact, 89% of employees say that professional development in their field is important to keeping them more engaged at work.

That sense of motivation also helps boost their satisfaction in the workplace, leading to increased job satisfaction overall.

  1. Improved Performance and Productivity

Companies that invest in development opportunities experience 11% greater profitability thanks to improved employee performance.  On top of that, those same growth programs help individuals feel more motivated to be productive. Kickstart that by building out a framework for training and growth. 

  1. Increased Employee Retention

Companies that offer development opportunities experience a 34% higher retention rate, according to a survey. Employees that have the chance to grow right where they are often want to stay. On top of that, growth also improves productivity and satisfaction, which helps with retention. 

  1. Attracting Top Talent

One of the priorities for job searchers is development opportunities. Candidates are actively looking for workplaces that offer this benefit. When your company provides those chances, you’re better able to attract top talent and stay competitive in your industry. 

  1. Fostering a Learning Culture

Unfortunately, a toxic culture is one of the top reasons people leave their jobs. Fortunately, cultivating a culture of learning can have the opposite effect! In fact, this type of environment is a great way for you to tap potential leaders. When everyone is constantly learning, you’ll have highly skilled employees that are constantly progressing. 

How to Create a Career Progression Framework in Six Steps

Ready to create opportunities for your teams? These are a few suggestions for how you can develop your own growth framework: 

Step 1: Assess Organizational Needs and Goals

To start, you may want to consider what your company needs to achieve its future goals. For example, your organization might be looking to expand and add a second location in the next few years. That would necessitate more leaders and employees of all kinds. Determining the projection of your company can help you see where your team members can grow in the years to come. 

In addition, you may also need to map out how your organization currently stands. That involves outlining every position and who is filling each one. Then you can use that map to compare where you’re at and where you want to be in the next few years. If you’re going to be expanding, you might use this map to see where there could be gaps or what structures you’ll be doubling. 

Step 2: Evaluate Your Current Employees’ Goals

Next, you may want to consider your team members’ desires and goals. One way to do this is to send out a survey. This can be a chance for your people to expound on what they hope for in the future. Or you could have a one-on-one conversation with them about their unique needs. That would let you ask follow-up questions to better understand.  

On top of that, consider evaluating their performance to understand how they’re performing now. If they’re already doing well in a position, they may be ready to move up in the organization. 

Step 3: Define Clear Paths and Milestones

It can be helpful for your team and your employees to have a set path for progression. This would include all the roles at your organization and the necessary milestones to be promoted. For each position, consider outlining: 

  • The required level of education
  • A list of needed soft skills
  • A list of required hard skills
  • A minimum number of years in the role, industry, or with the company
  • Short-term goals to achieve to reach this position
  • Long-term goals to achieve development

Publicizing these requirements lets individuals see the requirements and set personal goals. For example, a new intern at the company could use these paths to see how they can progress for their entire career. 

Step 4: Develop a Support System for Growth

Consider implementing programs that support your employees on their journey to development. Here are a few ideas of what this might look like: 

  • A mentorship program: You may have some of your experienced employees sign up as mentors. These individuals can work one-on-one with mentees to help them learn their roles. 
  • Job shadowing: This program is similar to mentorship, but it can be done on a smaller scale. Shadowees can observe another individual for a day or more to learn about how they work. It can give insight into what skills they need to develop to take on that role later. 
  • Skills training: You might offer official training sessions for learning new skills. For example, you could offer regular workshops on using a type of software. Employees who know they want that skill can attend. 
  • Regular check-ins: Consider organizing one-on-one meetings with team members to understand their goals and needs. Having regular conversations helps you know how to effectively support your employees. 

Step 5: Implement Regular Feedback and Review Processes

One of the best ways to find your weak points is to get constructive feedback. The same applies to your employees. To progress, they will ultimately need some type of input from their supervisors and peers.  To help make that easy, consider implementing some kind of review process. For example, you could have 360 reviews, so employees can get a variety of feedback. You might also consider quarterly performance reviews. 

Step 6: Adjust and Evolve the Framework

Nothing is ever perfect, so don’t be afraid to change the framework you set up as you go. Consider involving your workers along the way. Doing so can increase the employee’s buy-in of the framework.

Growth Is a Key Ingredient in Any Wellbeing Recipe

Career progression framework is a great way to support your employees and help them grow. Doing so is a powerful way to attract new talent and retain your current people. 

Another key aspect of creating a workplace that draws great people and helps them stay is a focus on wellbeing. Ninety-three percent of workers consider their wellbeing at work to be equally important to their salary, according to a Wellhub's State of Work-Life Wellness 2024 report. With a wellbeing program, you become the type of company employees want to work for making it easier and more affordable to hire.

Ready to get started with wellbeing? Talk to a wellbeing specialist today! 

Company healthcare costs drop by up to 35% with Wellhub! (* Based on proprietary research comparing healthcare costs of active Wellhub users to non-users.) Talk to a Wellbeing Specialist to see how we can help reduce your healthcare spending!

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Wellhub Editorial Team

The Wellhub Editorial Team empowers HR leaders to support worker wellbeing. Our original research, trend analyses, and helpful how-tos provide the tools they need to improve workforce wellness in today's fast-shifting professional landscape.


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