Learning & Development

5 reasons career progression is key to retention and engagement

According to Gartner, only 45% of employees believe their employer sees them as a person. It should come as no surprise then, that investing in employees’ career progression is key to both retention and engagement.

Why? Because it shows them that you do, in fact, see them as human.

And when 82% of people want career progression, if you don’t deliver, you risk losing your star players.

Investing in your employees shows them you appreciate that they spend their time to earn you money. And you repay their effort by investing in them. This reciprocal relationship is key to employee engagement.

Let’s dig into some of the reasons why offering career progression is so important.

Employees leave because they’re bored

Employees want training. In fact, a lack of career development was the top reason employees left jobs between April 2021 and April 2022.

Yet 70% of current employees feel they’ll have to leave their roles to advance their careers.

The more employees who leave, the more it’ll cost you to hire and train replacements. And the more company knowledge you’ll lose due to the lack of career progression.

On the flip side, 94% of employees will stay with a company that invests in their career.

Retraining is cheaper than hiring

Replacing a trained employee costs a whopping 200% of their annual salary

Then there’s the onboarding time, and the time it takes new hires to reach full productivity. That’s a lot of time and money you lose because you didn’t invest in career progression for your current employees.

That money could go towards providing even more advanced training opportunities, opening in new markets, expanding your team, advertising more intensively, or just about anything else.

Employees want to become leaders

Millennial employees are your future leaders. Some might already be in leadership positions at your organization. So it’s no wonder that 60% of millennials want leadership training.

But if 60% want leadership training, it suggests that they’re not getting enough. Or worse—that they’re being put into leadership positions without getting any.

It’s great that they have the company and industry know-how to move up in your business, but leading a team is very different from being knowledge-focused. It requires skills that many of us were never taught in formal education.

To get the most out of leaders and their employees, leadership training is vital.

Bringing in external trainers can give team members an opportunity to get a fresh perspective. Which enables them to avoid groupthink and prevents bad habits.

It can also provide existing leaders with a refresher, helping them support their employees in the ways they need now—not how they needed five years ago.

With 48% of leaders wanting to learn from assignments or external coaches, it shows that they have a strong desire to keep learning. 

Offering them the chance to grow helps to retain them, as well as their team members. 

It ensures their knowledge is up-to-date, they can expand it further, and they get to apply what they’ve learned for their direct reports. Which then sets them up for career progression, too.

Employees want flexible learning

Self-paced learning is a powerful tool that enables employees to learn around their lives.

Over half (58%) of employees want to learn at their own pace. This allows them the opportunity to work towards career progression without sacrificing their personal time or affecting their daily work activities.

E-learning is a powerful tool in the self-paced learning arsenal. It’s so powerful that it increases retention rates by 60%.

68% of employees would rather learn at work. Which makes sense given that what they’re learning will primarily benefit their career.

Giving employees a window during the work week when they can focus on self-development shows you understand how important career progression is not just to them, but to your organization and its future success.

It also helps break up the week, which can provide employees the vital break they need to approach problems they may have with a clear head—and find solutions.

Employees want to have a purpose

Employees want to feel like they have a purpose at work. Like they’re working toward a shared goal alongside their colleagues and employer.

They want something more than just working for a paycheck. A job can be so much more than that.

Employees need access to career progression opportunities to encourage them to develop their skills, and purpose to ensure that they want to.

Employees need to keep up

In our fast-paced, ever-changing world, if we aren’t learning, we’re going backward.

Which means employees need to be actively developing new skills and expanding their knowledge to be able to keep up in the world, and to help your business do the same.

As fear over AI coming for our jobs increases, businesses need to have open communication lines with employees, educating them on what AI in the workplace means for them and their roles, and how to adopt it as a friend, not a foe.

AI can be a great tool for career progression, but only when employees are empowered to use it safely and correctly.

Employees who feel like they’re progressing are more likely to stay

Ultimately, when employees feel like they’re progressing in their role, they’re more likely to choose to stay with your organization.

They have no reason to leave when they feel supported in their position and like they have a future there.

Even more so when you reassure them about their future at your company by offering appropriate training (or re-training) options.

Offering career progression opportunities, even if employees don’t take you up on them, helps them feel like they’re working toward a greater purpose and like they’re appreciated by their employer, not just seen as an easily replaceable cog.


Providing employees with career progression opportunities should be a key part of any retention strategy. It shows you support them, ensures the role stays interesting for them, and helps them keep up with the ever-changing world.

Ready to maximize the impact of your career progression initiatives? Workrowd makes it easy.

With all your employee groups, programs, events, and information in one place, everyone can easily find the career progression resources that are right for them. Plus, real-time analytics ensure you always know what’s working and what’s not.

To learn more and explore how Workrowd can empower you to take career progression to the next level at your organization, visit us online or reach out to us at

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