Improve employee retention rates with 5 effective career mobility strategies

employee retention rates

Find out how career mobility engages your frontline workforce and improves employee retention rates.

The post-pandemic job market is not cooling down amid signs of a recession. Due to a labor shortage, businesses are competing fiercely for talent, particularly for their frontline employees. Retaining frontline employees long-term is a key need for businesses.

Your employees are your greatest asset, so it’s essential to focus on retention strategies. Even a small reduction in turnover can make a big difference.

In this article, we share why retaining your frontline employees is essential and how career mobility can improve employee retention rates.


What is employee retention?

Employee retention refers to the ability of an organization to keep its employees over time. This can be measured in several ways, such as the turnover rate, which is the number of employees who leave the organization divided by the total number of employees. A high turnover rate is an indicator of poor employee retention.

There are a variety of reasons why employees might leave an organization, such as a lack of career advancement opportunities, low salaries, or a poor fit with the company culture. Companies that want to improve employee retention may focus on factors such as providing a robust benefits package, competitive compensation, professional development opportunities, or fostering a strong company culture. Some organizations may employ employee retention strategies that offer training programs, mentorship opportunities, or career coaching.

For frontline employees, lack of career development opportunities is the number one factor motivating them to leave their employer (McKinsey & Company).


Why is employee retention important, especially for frontline teams?

Employee retention is a significant concern for organizations because it can be expensive to replace employees. High turnover can lead to increased recruitment and training costs, loss of time spent onboarding, and negatively impact productivity and employee morale. Retaining your frontline workforce makes business sense. We’ve seen employers save about $23,000 annually per worker retained.

When employees don’t see a path forward with their organization or don’t feel that their company invests in them, they are more likely to look for other opportunities.



What is career mobility?

Career mobility is the ability of an employee to move up professionally or laterally within an organization. It can refer to levels of seniority, job titles, or even responsibilities.

Employees who take advantage of career advancement opportunities offered by their organization can add new skills to their toolbox, open up new career paths, get promotions, and have an improved employee experience overall. Organizations that offer professional development will enhance job satisfaction and increase engagement and productivity.


Why is it essential to promote internal mobility for frontline employees?

Developing employees’ careers is crucial for the organization’s success. There are several reasons why an organization needs to foster career mobility:

  1. Providing career mobility opportunities like professional development increases employee retention rates. When employees feel like they have a clear path to advancement within the organization, they are more likely to stay with the company rather than seek opportunities elsewhere. This can be especially important for frontline workers, who may have a high turnover rate and are expensive to replace.
  2. Career advancement opportunities improve employee engagement and motivation. When employers invest in professional development, it motivates employees to perform at their best and invest in their work. It can lead to increased productivity and higher levels of customer satisfaction.
  3. Fostering career mobility supports an organization’s DEIB goals. Providing career advancement opportunities to frontline workers promotes a more inclusive culture and creates a future where diverse talent is nurtured and promoted internally. Remember, your most diverse workers are likely in frontline roles.
  4. Career mobility helps an organization develop its talent pipeline. Investing in the professional development of its employees can help an organization build a capable and talented competitive workforce. This is particularly important for frontline workers, as they are often the face of the organization and are responsible for interacting with customers.


5 Effective career mobility strategies that improve employee retention rates

There are several different strategies an employer can use to increase their workforce’s career mobility and improve employee retention.


Offer career coaching.

Corporate career coaches work with individuals to evaluate their professional aspirations, strengths, skills, and current work experience to assist them with creating a list of professional goals. Frontline employees with less traditional resumes can benefit from career coaches who can help them identify and overcome professional barriers such as education requirements or critical skill gaps.

By helping employees to develop new skills and knowledge, career coaching can increase their value to the organization. This can help employees feel more confident in contributing to the organization, leading to increased engagement and improved retention rates amongst frontline teams. It also helps organizations further develop their human capital.


Create an employee mentorship program.

Mentorship can effectively improve retention rates by increasing employee engagement and motivation while promoting a sense of belonging within the company. This is extremely important for frontline employees who are sometimes based in large call center hubs or working within warehouses.

Mentors can provide career guidance and support, which helps employees overcome imposter syndrome and feel more confident in their abilities. It’s a cost-effective solution that leads to higher satisfaction.

Employee mentorship can also positively impact diversity, equity, and inclusion within the organization by offering underrepresented groups of employees the chance to form connections with higher-ups, gain knowledge, and broaden their perspectives through such relationships.

We share our tips for building a structured mentorship program and break down the ROI of this investment here.


Leverage upskilling as an employee retention strategy.

Amazon needed to source over 100 thousand new employees every holiday season and realized offering upskilling to their frontline workforce was a tangible benefit employees wanted.

They worked with Pathstream to offer a data analytics program to facilitate career advancement into data analyst positions. The program increased retention by 208% for workers that completed it.



Upskilling can improve frontline employee retention in many ways. Learning new critical skills can help employees feel more confident and competent in their roles, increasing their sense of purpose and fulfillment. This can lead to decreased turnover, as employees are less likely to leave their jobs if they feel they are making a valuable contribution.

Another important aspect of upskilling is its ability to foster a learning culture. When the company encourages and supports the professional growth of its employees, it creates a positive and supportive work environment that encourages employee engagement and retention.

An added benefit of upskilling is that your employees will be equipped with the skills ready to adapt to change as your business evolves.


Offer robust education benefits.

Progressive companies are expanding their education benefit offerings beyond just tuition reimbursement for traditional college degrees. They are now covering the costs of certificate programs that are shorter in duration, more cost-effective, and specifically target job-relevant skills such as data analytics or project management. This approach to education benefits allows employees to quickly gain new skills and advance in their careers without the long-term commitment or high cost of a traditional degree program.

Reducing financial and logistical hurdles ensures motivated employees can take advantage of benefits and deliver more reliable ROI in exchange. Modern education benefit packages also cover the cost burdens for their employees. This makes upskilling more appealing to frontline workers and others in low-wage jobs that cannot front the cost of continued education out of pocket.


Ready to lower employee turnover?

With Pathstream’s help, you can keep your workforce engaged and invested. Our career mobility platform improves retention rates by putting your frontline workers in the driver’s seat of their careers.

We combine skill-driven career pathing, personalized coaching, and digital upskilling to help frontline employees get ready for the digital future – all in one seamless location. We’ve helped 20+ Fortune 500 companies, including Amazon, Walmart, JP Morgan, and Chipotle, reduce their turnover costs by as much as $30k per employee. Pathstream can help transform your frontline workforce into the tech talent needed to grow your business. 

When partnered with Pathstream, employers can:

  • Curate a catalog of education offerings customized to meet your organization’s recruiting, retention, and capability enhancement goals
  • Immediately increase the volume and quality of job applications with our recruitment assets and campaign support
  • Leverage our in-depth analytics to monitor employee engagement and measure the ROI of your education benefits portfolio
  • Attract the most ambitious and committed candidates

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