Two colleagues working on a project over a lap top in a casual business office.
A career growth path helps you develop your entry-level employees into your future leaders and makes them feel valued. — Getty Images/ Sanja Radin

Entry-level employees value the career growth opportunities given to them by their employers that are outside of current work projects. As an employer, creating an employee growth path through education, webinars, mentoring, and more is an important part of supporting and lifting up entry-level employees. Doing so not only establishes loyalty between the employee and employer, but it also creates a more informed and educated team.

Here’s how to create an entry-level employee growth path and why it’s important for your business.

[Read: 9 Effective Ways to Attract Employees to Your Business]

What is a career growth path?

A career growth path is the way employees see their professional career advancing throughout the years. The beginning of an employee’s career path starts with their first job or college degree — their entry-level job. From there, entry-level employees either move up within their industry or change their career path to work in a different sector.

Entry-level employees should set objectives to guide their career growth. Employers can facilitate this exercise to stay aware of employees’ professional goals and find tangible ways to help entry-level employees achieve their goals and grow with their company.

What is involved in building a career plan?

To create a career plan with your entry-level employees, sit down with them to discuss their short-term and long-term goals and objectives. Short-term goals can be accomplished in one to five years, while long-term goals will take over five years to achieve.

Once together you've identified their goals and interests, discuss the resources they will need to achieve these goals. These resources can be formal training within the company, online courses, mentoring, transparent communication about a position progression path, or empowering them to take on new projects and assignments.

In order to stay on top of your entry-level employees’ development, discuss goal progress and priorities during annual reviews. Both the employee and employer can discuss what has worked versus what hasn’t, and revise or adjust the goals. Additionally, you can informally meet with entry-level employees every quarter to assess their development process.

[Read: Upskilling Your Team: How to Train Your Employees to Take on New Responsibilities]

If you consistently invest in the education and development of your entry-level employees, then they will remain armed with the latest knowledge. You won't have to go out and find workers with specific skills if you’re teaching the ones you already employ.

Why should you create a career growth path for entry-level employees?

It’s incredibly advantageous for companies to invest in their entry-level employees by developing a growth path for them. Here are some of the top reasons why:

  • Retain top talent. Investing resources and providing development plans for your entry-level employees makes them feel valued, and they'll be more likely to stay with your organization as opposed to finding a new place to work. When capable entry-level employees are treated with respect and their skills are fostered to grow, they’re much more likely to remain loyal.
  • Create a more capable workforce. If you consistently invest in the education and development of your entry-level employees, then they will remain armed with the latest knowledge. You won't have to go out and find workers with specific skills if you’re teaching the ones you already employ.
  • Empower employees to control their development and progress. Entry-level employees may feel at the mercy of their employer’s decisions about their careers. Conversely, when employees feel supported by their employer, they'll be more ambitious and productive in their day-to-day work, which then evolves into a newly-formed attitude about how they approach their career.

[Read: What Is Employee Training and Development?]

How to create a career growth path for entry-level employees

The first step of creating a growth path for entry-level employees is identifying those seek career growth. Once you know those who are serious about progressing in their careers, employers need to analyze skill gaps to learn where those employees need and want to grow by doing a training needs analysis. Once the analysis is done, have either an informal conversation or a scheduled review about growth opportunities and propose a strategized plan.

After finalizing an objective the entry-level employee is excited about, it’s the employer’s responsibility to help the employee to grow through aligned learning.

Customize the education and development track to each employee and create a plan that caters to the entry-level employee’s specific areas for growth and opportunity. Lastly, it’s important to periodically analyze and reconfigure the growth plan to suit changing priorities, outside-work demands, and more.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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CO— is committed to helping you start, run and grow your small business. Learn more about the benefits of small business membership in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Published October 18, 2021