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Significant Shifts in Employer-Employee Relationships Drive Organizations to Rethink Career Management

New research underscores need to engage employees with opportunities for development and career progression as many organizations flatten career paths

OAKLAND, Calif., Oct. 26, 2016 — A new research-based framework highlights the urgency with which organizations are rethinking their career management strategies amid significant shifts in the employer-employee relationship. Summarized in a WhatWorks® Brief, the findings appear in two new research reports: “The State of Career Management,” which outlines major shifts identified among organizations attempting to rethink career management; and “The Career Management Framework,” which provides guidance for companies thinking bout career management as many organizations flatten career paths to remain competitive. To help organizations map a course to career management technology solutions to augment their career strategies, Bersin by Deloitte also created “The Career Management Technology Landscape” — and a companion infographic (available in November). 

According to Deloitte’s “Global Human Capital Trends 2016” report, 80 percent of surveyed organizations are either in the process of revamping their organizational structure or have just done so. In fact, as many of these organizations flatten career paths, organizations may provide fewer opportunities for upward mobility, and encourage workers to move laterally. The changes come at a time when 88 percent of CXOs, and 93 percent of CXOs-in-waiting (those next in line to the C-suite) believe the rapid pace at which technology and the markets are changing is creating a skills gap in their organization, according to Deloitte’s “Business Confidence Report 2016.” Nearly half of these same executives feel that the skills gap is not being adequately addressed. To keep employees engaged, companies may need to provide new opportunities for development and career progression. The new framework shows how three major areas identified as the most important elements of career management should align to each of the four basic career approaches now used most frequently.  

“Today’s business conditions put a great deal of pressure on companies to compete more effectively,” said Dani Johnson, vice president and learning and development research leader, Bersin by Deloitte, Deloitte Consulting LLP. “Externally, organizations face volatile markets, stiffer global competition and rapidly changing industries. Internally, they encounter unstable and constantly changing workforces, the consistent need to upskill workers, and evolving worker expectations. To stay competitive, many companies are rethinking their strategies to efficiently and effectively move workers into, around, and out of the organization.”  

While there is no one best way to approach career management, Johnson added, “Our new framework helps organizations identify the career management approach to which they are most aligned. It then shows them ways to tweak the programs and processes associated with elements of the framework to be most effective.” 

The research found that most organizations align with one of four basic approaches to career management: 

  • Structured: Prepares workers for and moves them through well-defined career paths that align fairly closely to the organizational structure.  
  • Flexible: Moves workers through fairly well-defined levels of the organization, providing some flexibility when it comes to career paths and job descriptions to accommodate worker development and organizational needs. 
  • Open: Enables finite or project-based work by organizing workers in teams based on their capabilities. This approach offers workers active and aggressive internal mobility with opportunities to create very personalized career paths.  
  • Transitory: Facilitates work by finding, utilizing, managing and nurturing leading talent from a variety of sources. This approach often brings workers into the organization for smaller, more defined pieces of work, and then moves them out again once that work is completed.  

The research shows that effective organizations align the elements in three major areas critical to a strong career management strategy. They are:  

  • People: As organizations look beyond full-time, balance sheet workers to short-term contractors, consultants and retiree pools, they should take into account the characteristics and expectations of workers. For example, if the work is project-based, the organization might look for workers who are interested in progressing through roles involving different, interesting work, instead of a traditional up-and-out career. 
  • Progression: This area refers to the general path workers follow (e.g., upward or lateral movement), how well-defined responsibilities are and how particular roles relate to other roles in the organization. Developmental activities that equip workers to do various jobs should align with the overall strategy of the business as well as the approach taken to career management.  
  • Enablers: Enablers, such as leadership, messaging, and infrastructure are elements that exist within the organization and should be aligned in overall career management efforts. Enablers are often overlooked in career management efforts.  

“These three major areas form an integral part of the overall career management framework and should be considered for every career management strategy,” said Johnson. “How organizations align the elements in these areas to the approach or approaches they choose is as important – if not more important – than the actions encompassed by any one of them.”

Register to join Dani Johnson for her online webinar, “A Framework for Career Management,” at 2 p.m. EST/19:00 GMT, Nov. 17, 2016. 

Those interested in learning more about Bersin by Deloitte or Bersin by Deloitte membership may email or call +1 510 251 4400.  

About Bersin by Deloitte 

Bersin by Deloitte delivers research-based people strategies designed to help leaders and their organizations in their efforts to deliver exceptional business performance. A Bersin by Deloitte membership gives Fortune 1000 and Global 2000 HR professionals the information and tools they need to design and implement leading practice solutions, benchmark against others, develop their staff, and select and implement systems. A piece of Bersin by Deloitte research is downloaded on average approximately every minute during the business day. More than 5,000 organizations worldwide use our research and consulting to guide their HR, talent and learning strategies. For more information, please visit  

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Laura Evenson

Marketing and Communications

Bersin by Deloitte

Deloitte Consulting LLP

+1 415 465 2711