Research Outline

Tiered Pathway Employee Development Programs


To understand the factors associated with the successful implementation of tiered employee development programs that start from entry-level positions to middle and top management positions. Specifically, the aim is to:
  • Identify the components required to design and implement successful employee development programs,
  • Identify common pitfalls that have led to higher employee turnover
  • Establish best practices as determined by different industries or business models.

Early Findings

An Overview of the Importance of Talent Progression Programs

  • Talent development programs have become a significant determinant of employee retention. Acquiring talented or skilled individuals and training them to be an effective part of the organisation is associated with both direct and indirect costs. Talent management involves the identification and the development of skilled employees, which, in turn, results in increased productivity, job satisfaction, and employee retention, among other things.
  • Employee turnover is a significant cost to organisations. In the US, it is estimated as many as 1 in 4 employees resign from their work. Additionally, the costs involved in the replacement of a salaried employee, recruiting, hiring, onboarding and lost productivity hours amounts to an estimated 6 to 9 months' worth in terms of the cost to the organisation.
  • Employee development programs are a significant contributor to the reduction of employee attrition costs. One study estimated that 60% of new hires would prefer roles in organisations with clear development paths and two thirds would forgo regular pay rises in favour of a strong potential for professional development.
  • On the contrary, a lack of clear career development opportunities leads to higher levels of employee turnover.

Some Recognised Approaches to Develop Talent

  • A major component of developing an effective tiered pathway for talent progression is engaging with employees prior to introducing the changes. Individuals in differing environments, geographic locations, backgrounds and industries may have stronger preferences for one approach over the other.
  • Additionally, engagement with employees and the development of a progression pathway should be coupled with the provision of regular opportunities to progress for current employees. Defining a clear pathway when opportunities for promotion are rare is a source of frustration for talented employees looking to progress their careers. Stagnation and frustration are leading causes of employee attrition.
  • With opportunities for progression, a significant component of the program should be clear learning philosophy and skill enhancement plans. Organisations, such as KPMG have customised, off-the-shelf, and accredited development programs that enable employees to effectively learn and gain skills as part of their progression.
  • Furthermore, talent development should be engrained into the company culture. Participation in these programs should include c-level executives and employee coaching is part of successful approaches to talent retention.
  • Lastly, the human resources department plays a key role in the development and implementation of successful career paths.

Data Availability

There are several studies, reports and guides that detail information regarding the development of career paths. Although insider information of how certain organisations implement their talent progression programs may be relatively limited, there has been substantial research conducted into the factors that impact employee retention. This information can be analysed to identify the best practises that work across and within certain industries and sectors.