| 13 April, 2022 | 8 Min Read

What Millennials think about horizontal career growth

Employees' perspective on career growth has evolved significantly. It's no longer just about promotions and moving up the corporate ladder. Employees are prioritizing skillset development across departments. Furthermore, research reveals that employees' development influences an organization's progress. So, let's understand how your company can reap the benefits of horizontal career growth.

According to the Deloitte Millennial Survey, 48% of Millennials rate 'options for continuous learning’ highly significant, and 44% of Gen Z's consider this factor when determining whether or not to work for a firm. Also, 75% of Gen Z's want to play numerous roles inside their company.

Such astonishing numbers ascertain that companies have to start listening closely to what employees are saying instead of brushing them off. When employees feel dismissed, they start looking for greener pastures where the management gives them more attention and prioritizes their views and opinions. 

For today's workforce, motivation is not an immediate outcome of a job title or position. It is more to do with recognition, learning opportunities, career planning, and consideration that can contribute toward long-term success.

The challenge now is: how can companies satisfy the expectations of the new workforce?

Enter the new wave of career development- Horizontal career growth. To prepare for today's generational expectations and foster long-term success for themselves and their workers, businesses must develop a setting that enables employees to build more connections and discover new skills and experiences within the organization, which has been proven to encourage more innovation.

Vivek Iyyani - The Millenial Specialist shares his insights while dissecting the importance and steps to implementing horizontal career growth, making this transition easy.

Download our playbook "Catch the new wave: Performance enablement" and master the art of managing millennials using horizontal career growth opportunities.

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What is horizontal career growth?

Horizontal growth is a new way of thinking about the classic corporate ladder climb. In contrast to a vertical career path, which involves moving between hierarchical positions in the same profession, horizontal career growth involves shuffling between jobs with similar responsibilities in distinct areas of expertise. 

A marketing employee, for example, who wants to put their sales talents to the test might shift careers and work in the sales department, which is an example of a horizontal career path. However, this shift between departments does not affect the salary and benefits.

Horizontal career development has been common in large firms since the 1990s, although many companies are yet to implement it, owing to the traditional belief that vertical growth should take precedence. Regardless, the long-held beliefs should not obscure the benefits it has to offer.

Why is horizontal growth so valuable?

Horizontal progression allows workers to acquire dynamic and diversified skill sets by engaging them in several exciting, career-building events outside of their core responsibilities. With such options, Millennials will comprehend different aspects of the business, allowing them to use their transferrable abilities and bring value throughout the company.

47% of higher educated workers said a limited career path could get them to leave for a better opportunity.

Highlight (1)Employees who pursue a career development path can increase their skills and knowledge over time, which helps them and the company in the long run. As a result, enabling employees with growth development plans helps companies succeed.

Benefits of horizontal career growth

In today's job market, employees crave opportunities that can broaden their skills and allow them to experiment. Being known for multi-skill development, horizontal career growth has various fruitful rewards. Let's look at a few of them:

1. It’s a win-win for both companies and employees:

A company's success is defined by its team. Hence, maintaining a high employee engagement rate is not 'good-to-have' but a 'must-have' for the company's and employees' long-term growth.

This latest study recognizes that companies that prioritize employee development generate a median income of $161,100 per employee. In contrast, companies that fail to do so make about $82,800, which is only half that amount.

There are many ways to achieve those mentioned above; however, horizontal career growth is the easiest, most rewardful, and most cost-efficient way. Additionally, horizontal career moves can help in short-term problem solving like employee frustration, disengagement, resignation, and uncertainty.

2. High employee engagement and retention rate

Getting good people on board is essential but keeping them invested in your company is another ball game. This is when horizontal career growth opportunities prove to be a game-changer. 

With employees wanting to expand their skillset and experiment with new roles, enabling a flexible work style via horizontal progression can result in a high level of employee engagement and retention rate.

Additionally, when employees recognize that their employer cares about their development and offers them resources to achieve personal and professional objectives, employees feel heard and motivated to put their best foot forward while doing a great job at work.

3. Low hiring cost

When it comes to running a business, talent acquisition is a significant and ongoing investment that can prove costly for many companies, considering the high attrition rate. This is where internal mobility comes to the rescue, aiding in identifying that valuable individual contributor.

Companies can shorten the time it takes to acquire new employees by skipping the search phase and getting right into the onboarding process by implementing a horizontal career growth ladder and internal mobility. Inform your team about internal mobility as a way to bring in more quality prospects at a lower cost.

Horizontal career growth - Learn from real-life practitioners.

Northrop Grumman Corporation's subsidiary, space university, aided a horizontal career growth approach by launching a new career path management (CPM) platform. Employees were given the option of choosing their own career paths based on their indicated interests. Here's how it went down:

L Path (leadership): Employees who aspire to be leaders and are inclined toward management choose the L-path that focuses on enhancing the leadership skill of a person.

S path (skills): Employees who wished to focus on contributor positions that were backed by skills chose the S-path.

R path (rotation): Employees wanting to attempt new things or weren't sure which path to choose had the option to select the R path.

X path (crossover): Employees who wanted a change in function and new difficulties could choose the Crossover X-path. 

Grove HR - Horizontal career growth 1

They even had career coaching services to help employees choose the best career paths. As a result of these four alternate routes, the organization's engagement and retention levels showed a significant rise.

How can your company foster horizontal career growth? Implement these steps

87% of Millennials rate professional career growth and developmental opportunities as important to them in a job. 

All of these figures show that Millennials value organizations and management that prioritize training to assist their employees in their development. Here are a few ways to adopt a horizontal career growth path in your workplace.

Grove HR - Horizontal career growth 2

1. Reimagine human resources

According to 49% of respondents, missing tools and processes for identifying and mobilizing talent are one of the top three hurdles to internal talent mobility.

Many businesses perceive people management and strategy to be two different pillars. However, integrating strategy-driven automated processes into human resources is critical for a company's success since it serves as a mediator between the employee and the employer, establishing a balance.

An HR manager must focus on building strategic career paths like the horizontal progression using HRM software that enables every employee to play to their strengths, backed by years of knowledge, skill, and experience. 

2. Create a culture of internal mobility

Internal talent mobility is vital to 76% of companies, yet just 6% believe they are appropriately moving staff from one role to another.

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Internal mobility allows your organization to re-skill current personnel and fills department vacancies without searching outside the company. It aids in recognizing cross-collaboration opportunities, allowing staff to combine a variety of skill sets to complete tasks more quickly. It's preferable to retain your Millennial employees within your company rather than lose them to competition. 

3. Make your employees aware

Establishing horizontal career growth opportunities in the workplace starts with awareness. Employees must be made aware of all available training and professional advancement opportunities before they can put them into practice. This is where an HR role plays a very significant part.

The company should never make someone’s career or job choice for them. Each employee should be free to choose the areas they want to progress in and find appropriate training to help them do so. This could range from internal training opportunities led by team members to external training opportunities led by industry experts.

Training is seen as a cost in some companies, but it should always be an investment in your people, your future, and your company, motivating them to achieve their maximum potential.

4. Empower a flexible setting

Successfully implementing new advancements into your workspace requires a shift in mindset. Limiting your employee's skill set is a recipe for disaster. Hence, Companies must address employees' need for personal growth and enrichment by allowing them to devote a portion of their work time to learning new dynamic abilities and skills. This strategy will better equip them to collaborate across departments and solve problems in novel ways.

It’s time to shift the mindset 

For a long time, the term career growth has been used in the talent business and the corporate world. However, now is the time to get that into practice and open the doors of accessibility and growth in your workspace. 

The bottom line is that you don't want your employees to feel like they're just a number at work. You want them to feel like a member of your company and team. 

🎁This article is a part of our playbook "Catch the new wave: Performance enablement - Strategic insights from leading HR experts”. Download it for free 

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