Skip to main content
main content, press tab to continue

Career Analysis and Design

In today’s competitive business environment, a meaningful career framework is crucial for your employees to thrive.

A range of economic and social forces are reshaping today’s workplace, upending traditional notions of work and careers. We know careers matter to employees, but what does a career even mean in our reconfigured world of work?

In today’s competitive business landscape, employers must prioritize creating meaningful career experiences for their employees. A well-structured career ecosystem that is supported by a robust career framework and comprehensive people programs empowers you to attract, retain and develop top talent.

We can help you create a dynamic and engaging work environment that supports career growth and organizational success.

Why careers should matter to employers

It takes more than compensation to attract and keep great talent, and economic realities naturally constrain pay. Beyond pay and core benefits, employees are looking for flexible work arrangements and work that gives them a sense of purpose and supports their personal development, our research shows. And employers that provide effective career management are better able to attract and retain talent than their competitors.

Many employees today are thinking beyond the traditional employer-defined, linear career path. They also are prioritizing whether their employers share their values and offer flexibility and support.

These factors create an opportunity to rethink how you define and support your employees’ careers. And this requires a career ecosystem.

What is a career ecosystem?

A career ecosystem provides your employees with a clear path forward. It also provides employers a clear framework to support the governance of HR programs.

Understand the importance of an integrated career ecosystem

In today’s competitive environment, many organizations are creating meaningful career experiences for employees that are enabled through a career ecosystem.

Ultimately, a career ecosystem is a comprehensive system that creates a meaningful and fulfilling work experience for employees. It encompasses all aspects of an individual’s professional journey within an organization, from recruitment and onboarding to growth and development, and rewards and recognition. By fostering a supportive and dynamic career ecosystem, you can:

  • Engage and retain top talent
  • Drive innovation and productivity
  • Achieve long-term organizational success

One key function of a career ecosystem is providing clear guides for work, growth and rewards programs. This includes well-defined career paths that employees can aspire to, transparent criteria for advancement, and opportunities for professional development and skill enhancement. When employees understand expectations and can access the resources they need to succeed, they’re more likely to be motivated, productive and satisfied in their roles.

Other vital aspects of a career ecosystem include transparency, equitable access to opportunities and consistent performance expectations. This means ensuring that all employees, regardless of their background, gender, race and so on, have equal opportunities to progress and develop their careers. It also involves establishing clear and fair performance standards that ensure evaluations are conducted objectively and consistently. When employees feel valued and treated fairly, they’re more likely to be committed to your organization and perform their best.

Your career ecosystem defines and guides work, growth and rewards. It links your people strategy to your company’s purpose. It also ensures that your people programs are connected and effective while meeting your organization’s needs.

Key elements in creating your career ecosystem


Define the purpose, elements and strategy for careers

  • Determine how your career agenda links to your people programs
  • Define which metrics – people, operational and financial – your program will influence

Ensure buy-in from key business leaders and executives

  • Develop the business imperative for the work
  • Assess the risk of not changing
  • Have a process for ongoing refinement

Establish the impact and communication plan for careers

  • Determine where you want change to be seen
  • Ensure employees and candidates understand what’s in it for them
  • Determine the role of careers in your total rewards storyline and culture

A career framework strategically integrates people programs

The foundation of your career ecosystem is the career framework. A well-structured career framework is the heart of creating a meaningful career experience for employees. The framework serves as a roadmap that organizes, illustrates and integrates various people programs, creating a comprehensive approach to talent development.

Career frameworks provide a systematic and consistent process to organize jobs and classify their varying contributions across your organization more easily. And you can use them to design or update your talent and total rewards programs or integrate an acquisition during a merger.

A career framework has three parts:

Job leveling involves evaluating the scope, complexity and impact of jobs within your organization. By leveling jobs, you create career bands and levels as well as a structure that clearly defines roles, responsibilities and career progression. Establishing job levels helps you make fair and consistent decisions regarding compensation, promotions and career development opportunities.

A job architecture groups jobs based on their use of similar knowledge or skills. By categorizing jobs this way, you can identify similar jobs regardless of placement on an organization chart to clarify career paths and ease employees’ transition to new roles within or outside of the same field or function.
A knowledge architecture is vital in ensuring that the career framework remains relevant and dynamic. It connects work to established and emerging skills, ensuring that employees develop the competencies and expertise needed for success in the ever-changing job market. A dynamic knowledge architecture ensures that the career framework reflects the latest industry trends and enables your organization to adapt to technological advancements and evolving business needs.

The risks of an ill-defined career framework

The career framework helps employees understand available opportunities across your organization. Without a defined career framework, the definition of a promotion often is unclear. The pay grade often is the qualifier in determining a promotion, and that can cause inequities in career advancement and pay. In contrast, employers with a career framework can use job levels as the basis for a promotion with a job change because job levels within the framework are based on well-defined leveling criteria.

Evaluating job scope, complexity and impact

Many programs work in tandem with a career framework to support and complement each other.

A clear understanding of your organization’s career paths and framework supports strategic workforce planning by identifying future talent needs. You can anticipate critical roles, skills gaps and succession plans, ensuring you have the right talent in place to meet your business objectives.

A clear career path and structure makes roles more attractive. Defined career paths enhance your organization’s employer brand. With a well-defined career path, candidates can envision their growth and development within your company and are more likely to join your organization and stay loyal to it.
A robust career framework provides a foundation for fair and equitable pay and employee benefits. You can establish market-competitive compensation based on job levels and responsibilities while considering career growth potential. Similarly, you can tailor employee benefits to different levels of job responsibilities and career stages.
A well-defined career framework empowers employees to take control of their career development. It equips them with clear goals, expectations and resources to navigate their career paths within your organization. Employees can understand what they need to achieve and seek out the necessary support to progress in their careers.
A career framework guides the creation and delivery of targeted learning and development programs. It identifies competencies and skill requirements at different career levels, forming the basis for personalized development plans. This alignment ensures the training provided supports your employees’ career aspirations, unlocking their full potential.
Career frameworks provide a standardized approach for performance reviews. Clear career ladders and milestones help set meaningful performance goals and objectives. Employees can track their progress and receive feedback based on their roles and career growth potential, leading to more effective and fair evaluations.
A career framework streamlines the process of identifying, evaluating and developing talent for future leadership positions. It facilitates succession planning by matching employees’ potential and career goals with leadership requirements. You can proactively prepare employees for career advancement and ensure business continuity.

Career experience is connected to employee experience

Employee experience makes a significant difference in attracting and retaining top talent. A career experience forms a large part of the employee experience, as it helps employees put together the pieces of the puzzle:

  • The work they do
  • The contribution and impact they make to the organization
  • Their performance
  • Their career development opportunities, including upskill, reskill and growth

Getting careers right as part of a relevant and meaningful employee experience can help deliver a tangible competitive advantage. Our research reveals that a superior employee experience is proven to drive financial success. Companies with a more effective employee experience outperform their peers in the areas of top-line growth, bottom-line profitability and return to shareholders.

Overall, a well-structured career framework acts as the backbone of effective people programs. It ensures that various HR functions are aligned and contribute to the holistic development and satisfaction of your employees, leading to a positive impact on your organization’s success.

Contact us