Leadership Tips: Creating Career Paths for Your Employees


By Samantha Hager, Ashlie Marshall

Simon Foster, author of “What is my Purpose?,” once said, “Knowing your life purpose is the first step toward living a truly conscious life. A life purpose provides us with a clear goal, a set finish line that you truly want to reach.”

As a business leader, you can play a major role in solidifying and determining your employees’ purposes, so long as you take the time to help them create purpose paths within your company. However, even now, not many companies take the time to define career paths and help their teams find purpose in their work on a daily basis. With this in mind, for this week’s Leadership Tips, I chose to partner up yet again with Tier Level Digital Marketing and show exactly how crucial and valuable creating career paths for your employees can be. 

But, to truly understand how this structure can help you increase employee retention and satisfaction as well as reflect in your business practices, customer relations, and growth, we first must explain why the modern employee expects a sense of purpose in their work now more than ever.

career stagnancy

The career stagnancy dilemma

Picture it: COVID-19 has shut down just about every business imaginable, people are filling up hospital beds across the nation, and everyone is entirely unsure of what the future holds. For the average employee, the assuredness of their careers and futures is now up in the air and even their very lives are now at risk. In a time like this, do you think for even a moment that as a regular employee you too wouldn’t be worrying about your mortality, legacy, and whether or not you have a purpose in this world? 

In fact, this concern only was exacerbated by the fact that many companies completely shut off communications with their employees and left them in the dark during this time. As such, these employees began to wonder whether they were respected, whether there was a future for them in the company, and whether or not they felt truly fulfilled in the cleaning industry overall. 

And the results of these questions? Well, the truth is that it became more and more clear to everyone from carpet techs and restoration contractors to sales representatives and secretaries that they were stagnating in their careers and that, with life so definitively fragile in their minds now, it was time for change. 

employee turnover retention

Major losses for the cleaning industry

The discovery that stagnation was afoot only led to a mass exodus for just about every industry—including the cleaning and restoration industries. In fact, there are 10.6 million unfilled jobs in America even now, and it is believed that COVID-19 accounted for at least 15% of this labor shortage. Out of fear of not having a defined career path and sense of purpose in their work, these professionals turned to anything and everything to feel fulfilled. 

But, that was then and this is now. After years of rebuilding and restructuring, these employees are ready to rejoin the workforce and stay for the long run—so long as they are truly challenged and given the upwards growth they deserve. And this is where developing thorough and streamlined career paths comes into play. With a career path to help them see they are not stagnating, these employees can return to their companies and potentially even bring others along out of pride and fulfillment in the positions they hold. 

developing career paths

Developing career paths to overcome turnover

Employee turnover is one of the biggest concerns in the cleaning and restoration industries. It’s why many companies opt for entire contract teams instead out of fear of having to consistently hire and re-hire for the same job costing them thousands in the process. However, this isn’t a necessary approach when your employees feel appreciated and able to advance in the industry. 

Defining career paths for employees can provide a clear roadmap for growth and development within a company, increasing employee retention and satisfaction. Having clear expectations and goals for employees helps them feel a sense of purpose and direction in their careers, reducing the likelihood of them leaving for better opportunities elsewhere. After all, who wants their best team members leaving for their competitors just because of a job title transition or minor raise?

By providing opportunities for advancement and skill development, employees feel valued and respected by their employers as well. This can increase job satisfaction and motivation, leading to improved performance and a stronger commitment to the company. Employees are also able to see the potential for growth within the company, reducing the feeling of being stagnant in their current positions. As Marc Koehler once said, “It’s only when companies are clear about their purpose, have clearly communicated it, and it is understood by the team that companies can achieve both unity of effort and distributed decision making.”

Additionally, having defined career paths can lead to better succession planning and workforce planning, ensuring a pipeline of talent for key roles within the company. This can also support diversity and inclusion initiatives by providing clear pathways for underrepresented groups to advance within the organization.

This structure and career advancement strategy can help you to keep the very best employees and also increase customer satisfaction and brand interest as well simply by showing what a considerate, forward-thinking, and intelligent leader you are. 

well-defined career path characteristics

The characteristics of a well-defined career path for employees

When building career paths for each role in your company, you must be willing to define them properly and pay attention to the key characteristics that good career paths uphold. Fortunately, Tier Level Digital Marketing’s own CFO, Ashlie Marshall, used her experience and insights into successful organization operations to compile the characteristics and recommendations below: 

A well-defined career path is characterized by several key elements that help to support employee success and drive organizational effectiveness. Clarity, flexibility, relevance, support, communication, and inclusivity are among the most important characteristics of a successful career path. 

By considering these factors and creating a career path that aligns with organizational goals and supports employee development, organizations can attract and retain top talent, foster a positive work environment, and drive positive business outcomes. Let’s explore the key characteristics of a successful career path strategy and the benefits they bring to both employees and the business owners that manage them. 

clarity career paths

1. Clarity

A well-defined career path should be clear and easily understood by each employee. Leaders are responsible for providing clearly defined steps, requirements, and expectations for each role within the organization. 

Clarity is a crucial aspect of creating a successful career path for employees. A clear and easily understood career path provides employees with a sense of direction and purpose, allowing them to plan and pursue their professional growth within the organization. Clarity also helps employees understand what is expected of them and the steps they need to take in order to advance within the organization. This can lead to increased motivation and engagement, as employees feel that their goals and aspirations are aligned with those of the organization. 

Furthermore, a clear career path can also improve employee retention, as employees are more likely to stay with an organization that provides them with opportunities for growth and development. 


2. Flexibility

While a clear structure is important, it is also important to allow for flexibility. Employees may have different goals, interests, and strengths—and every good leader knows the importance of taking this into account when creating opportunities for employees. 

Flexibility is a vital component in creating a career path that supports the diverse needs and goals of employees. It is essential to accommodate different career aspirations, strengths, and interests. A flexible career path allows employees to chart their own courses and take on responsibilities that align with their passions and strengths. It also drives them towards taking ownership of their own future within the organization. 

Flexibility helps to support work-life balance, as employees are able to adjust their careers to meet their personal and family commitments. This can lead to increased employee well-being and a more positive work environment. 

Just like each characteristic shared here, creating flexibility within an employee’s career path will result in higher job satisfaction, engagement, and motivation. When employees feel fulfilled in their roles and driven to continue building their professional development it ultimately leads to higher employee retention and success for the organization.


3. Relevance

The career path should align with the needs and goals of both the employee and the organization. Leaders should be driven to provide opportunities for skill development, advancement, and recognition within their organization.

Relevance is critical to ensuring what we have already mentioned, that a career path must support both the goals of employees and the needs of the organization. Aligning this path with the organization’s mission, values, and strategies is more likely to attract and retain employees who are motivated and engaged. 

When employees have a clear understanding of how their work contributes to the overall success of the organization, they are more likely to be motivated and engaged in their work. 

This also helps to keep employees current with industry trends and best practices and can provide them with opportunities for continued learning and development. This will help the organization to become a cleaning industry leader in no time. The relevance of each career path within an organization supports the success and well-being of the employees and fosters a positive work environment that drives business success.

support career paths

4. Support

The organization should provide resources and support to help employees achieve their career goals. Leaders are there to give each employee the tools they need to be successful in their role. Teaching them through example how to develop new skills and possibly be the support to others within the organization is vital. 

Support in an organization provides employees with opportunities to grow and advance within the company. This not only helps to retain talented staff but also shows that the company values and recognizes their contributions. By offering training and development programs, employees can learn new skills and take on new challenges, leading to promotions and higher salaries. 

Additionally, by providing support in the form of clear communication, feedback, and recognition, employees feel valued and motivated to continue their hard work, ultimately benefiting both the employee and the organization.

Pro Tip: Create mentorship programs for new employees to gain support from long-term employees in order to strengthen team relationships and make long-term employees feel respected and worthy. 


5. Communication

Regular communication is key to ensuring employees understand and feel invested in their career path. Leaders should conduct regular check-ins and listen for opportunities to provide feedback.

Clear and open communication between employees and their managers about career goals, expectations, and opportunities for growth and development help to ensure that employees understand what is expected of them and what they can expect from the organization. 

Regular check-ins and performance evaluations help employees track their progress and receive feedback on areas for improvement, but they are also helpful in other ways as well. 

These check-in sessions provide a safe space for employees to gain a better understanding of their strengths and weaknesses, set achievable goals, and receive recognition for their efforts. During these same check-ins, leaders can gather insights into their employees’ development needs, help them stay on track, and identify any obstacles that need to be overcome. 

By establishing an open, two-way communication channel, both parties can work together to support the employee’s career growth, foster a positive work environment, and ultimately contribute to the success of the organization.

inclusivity DEI

6. Inclusivity

A successful career path should be inclusive and accessible to all employees, regardless of race, gender, age, or other factors. Leaders should work to foster a full and inclusive environment for all employees. One where each and every employee has the same full opportunities for advancement based on performance and commitment.

Inclusivity is a critical aspect of creating a career path that supports the diverse needs and goals of all employees. A workplace that provides equal opportunities for everyone not only promotes fairness and equality but also leverages the full potential of the team. 

When employees see that they have equal chances to grow and succeed, they are more likely to feel valued and motivated to contribute to the organization’s success. Providing equal opportunities also helps to foster a positive company culture, build a strong sense of community, and attract and retain top talent. 

In short, creating an environment where all employees can grow and advance helps organizations to thrive by leveraging the skills, experience, and perspectives of a diverse workforce.

opportunities for growth creating career paths

7. Opportunities for Growth

A career path is ultimately the definition of opportunity for growth, advancement, and professional development. Leaders who work to provide this opportunity for others are not only helping others to advance—they are building a successful business.

A clear, flexible, relevant, supportive, communicative, and inclusive career path provides employees with just that! By knowing the steps and requirements for advancement, employees can set achievable goals and plan their career progression. This career path can also help employees understand the skills and experiences needed for specific roles and provide them with opportunities to gain the necessary knowledge and training. 

This will no doubt continue to lead to a high level of job satisfaction and motivation, as employees feel a sense of progress and purpose in their work. Employees will be more likely to stay with an organization that supports their personal and professional growth, as well as their ability to create balance in their work and home lives. By providing a clear career path, organizations can support the success and mental well-being of their employees and foster a positive work environment.

In the end, a well-defined career path, as we have mentioned, is an important tool in attracting and retaining top talent within an organization. The career path should provide employees with opportunities for growth and advancement, both within the organization and in the broader industry. 

This helps to ensure that employees feel valued and recognized, as they are able to see the potential for growth and progress in their careers. Providing opportunities for personal and professional development aids employees in developing new skills and knowledge, and leads to increased productivity and innovation for the organization. 

Additionally, offering opportunities for advancement in the broader cleaning industry provides employees with the type of growth that inevitably creates a positive work environment, through promoting employee success and building a culture of continuous learning and development.

Cleanfax Staff

Cleanfax provides cleaning and restoration professionals with information designed to help them manage and grow their businesses.

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