Climbing career ladders – and career lattices!

We often hear workers want to “climb the ladder” in their current companies and careers. They often believe that the best route to financial security and career satisfaction is to move from one position to the one above them until they can eventually either run their own company or have very few people above them in the hierarchy of their industry. However, many workers also discover that this traditional linear path to career success does not leave them fulfilled. Instead, they find the jobs above them are not ones they enjoy, nor do the skills they’ve accumulated translate to these “higher positions.”

The concept of a career “lattice” is becoming increasingly popular in recent years. It came to the forefront of workforce trends during the “Great Resignation,” where many workers decided to leave their current positions in search of new work during the post-pandemic recovery. Some were burnt out during the pandemic, while others were given the freedom to explore new possibilities while unemployed, which led them to new career fields entirely. This lattice career development shows workers that they have more options than their single specialty and that branching out can provide incredible benefits to their career fulfillment. 

Key Benefits of a Career Lattice

The traditional career ladder is the obvious choice for most individuals. Promotions typically include pay increases and a chance to specialize further in a particular field. However, this doesn’t work for every individual. Many people want or need to take a lateral (even downward) career move to gain the following benefits: 

  • A chance to shift gears if their current occupation is unfulfilling or unsatisfactory to their needs
  • If they choose a career path young and realize their current line of work does not align with their future life goals
  • The ability to gain a breadth of knowledge in a specific industry, further developing one’s skills and mobility within their sector
  • The ability to trade one job benefit for another, such as lower pay in exchange for greater job freedom or more time off. 

Career lattice moves are often in response to life changes such as the development of one’s family life or the exploration of new interests. For example, if you decide to have a child or pursue a passion outside your current line of work, you may not want a promotion but a chance to explore something new (and potentially less demanding) in your career. 

How Employers Can Adapt to Career Lattice Trends

Companies can facilitate this growth for their employees by embracing the career lattice as a positive approach to employee development. Rather than solely pushing employees into promotions, they can avoid losing talented workers by internally hiring for positions in various departments. Lateral movement allows you to keep your best employees and help them utilize their skills innovatively. As a result, you can save happy employees and let their currently cultivated skills shine a whole new way. 

Career lattices can be beneficial to your company in many ways. For example, when companies don’t want to lose one of their best managers because they just had a baby, they can consider switching their role to something part-time and relaxed to enjoy a more significant life balance. Or, if someone is looking to expand their creative side, companies can offer them jobs in more artistic or hands-on departments where they can keep their work family while working on growing their creative skills. 

Job-seekers, now is the time to explore your options and find fulfillment in the field you want to work in. Learn more about Eckerd’s Workforce Development programs or find a program near you below.

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