Career Advancement and Retention in HigherEd

At colleges and universities, career advancement can make all the difference in your retention efforts.

HigherEd is facing an increasingly challenging hiring market, meaning that retention is more important than ever. One key to retention in most organizations is offering clear opportunities for career growth. These opportunities directly benefit employees, but also benefit your institution as a whole by positively impacting faculty and staff retention. Below, we’ll dive into why career growth matters in HigherEd and how it directly affects retaining valuable staff and faculty.

Why does career growth matter?

Robust professional development plans and clear career growth opportunities are proven to positively impact employee retention, while lack of career progress or insufficient support for professional growth is at the top of the list of reasons employees might look for new roles.

Employees who are consistently encouraged to set goals, grow skills, and take career steps forward feel more valued, because it’s clear the institution is invested in their long-term success—which in turn encourages employees to be invested in a long-term career at your institution. The Chronicle of Higher Education also noted that professional development opportunities are a vital tool in creating a positive work culture at your college or university.

Professional development and career advancement opportunities also support succession planning. Strong leadership is essential for HigherEd, and an internal focus on career development helps build a robust internal talent and leadership pipeline.

How can I offer career growth opportunities at my institution?

  1. Set clear expectations: Integrate a learning culture into your faculty and staff from day one by sharing expectations and opportunities around professional development during orientation. Make professional development part of your review structure, so managers don’t let it slide, and share any available professional development opportunities widely.
  2. Upskilling and career-pathing: When an employer has defined avenues for career growth and clear review processes in place, employees often feel more engaged and are more likely to seek out new opportunities internally. By keeping talent moving within your institution, you’re reducing hiring costs as well as helping to build an internal talent pipeline that makes succession planning easier. To develop a career pathing program for your institution, define the outcomes that you’re looking for, examine your organizational chart, take a look at the career paths of current institutional leaders, examine job descriptions, and define key skills that could be enhanced with training or development.
  3. Offer flexible paths: Career growth doesn’t always mean upwards or linear growth. Sometimes, lateral career moves can be a better fit for an employees skills or goals—make sure your career pathing is flexible. With this in mind, make sure to advertise most job openings internally, giving existing employees a chance to explore all new opportunities.
  4. Mentorship and coaching: Pair employees with experienced mentors who can provide guidance, support, and insights as they navigate their career paths. Make sure that managers and leaders are trained to help employees set and achieve goals.
  5. Offer micro-learning: Employees can sometimes feel overwhelmed by long seminars or daunting development courses—especially when they’re already busy. Offer “bite-sized” learning opportunities that are manageable during the workday (not during a break or after hours) to encourage employees to take professional development one step at a time.

Final thoughts

In HigherEd, creating a culture of learning and growth is essential. By valuing career growth, institutions keep staff and faculty motivated to stay. This leads to success for both employees and the institution. As career advancement becomes a cornerstone of HigherEd workplaces, employees are empowered to reach new heights, and institutions thrive in a changing landscape. PeopleAdmin offers tools like Performance Management and Professional Development and Learning that can help your team support career advancement. Reach out to our experts to learn more!