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Episode #301 – How Career Pathing Can Help Animal Health and Veterinary Employers

The Vet Recruiter®
The Vet Recruiter®
Episode #301 - How Career Pathing Can Help Animal Health and Veterinary Employers

Caleb: Welcome to “The Animal Health and Veterinary Employment Insider,” brought to you by The VET Recruiter. In this podcast, Animal Health Industry executive recruiter and Veterinary recruiter Stacy Pursell of The VET Recruiter provides insight and practical advice for both employers and job seekers in the Animal Health and Veterinary industries. The VET Recruiter’s focus is to solve talent-centric problems for the Animal Health industry and Veterinary profession. In fact, The VET Recruiter’s mission is to help Animal Health and Veterinary companies hire top talent, while helping Animal Health and Veterinary professionals attain career-enhancing opportunities that increase their quality of life.

Today, we’ll be talking about how career pathing can help Animal Health and Veterinary employers. Hello, Stacy, and thank you for joining us today.

Stacy: Hello, Caleb. As always, I’m glad to be here with you today.

Caleb: Stacy, what exactly is career pathing?

Stacy: Great question, especially since it will be our topic for today’s conversation. Career pathing is the process of identifying and planning a career path for an employee within an organization. It is an essential component of talent management and can help both the organization and the employee achieve their goals.

Caleb: Okay, so this isn’t exactly something that’s new? This has been around?

Stacy: Yes, but you may not have heard it as career pathing. Not only that, but it may not have been as important as it right now in the Animal Health industry and Veterinary profession.

Caleb: Why is that?

Stacy: Because talent is scarce and when you have talent on staff, you must do everything you can to retain that talent. Because if you don’t, there’s a good chance that your employees will become flight risks.

Caleb: What are the benefits of career pathing, exactly?

Stacy: There are multiple benefits. We will talk about them today.

Caleb: I imagine that one of them is increased retention, which you just alluded to?

Stacy: Correct, the first benefit is increased retention, which makes sense. Career pathing can help increase employee retention by providing a clear path for career development and growth within the organization. When employees see opportunities for advancement and development, they are more likely to stay with the organization.

However, another benefit is improved employee engagement, which is a huge key in recruiting and hiring these days. When employees feel like they have a clear path for growth and development within the organization, they are more engaged in their work. They feel valued and invested in the organization’s success.

Caleb: We’ve been discussing this recently on the podcast, that engagement is the key to effective recruiting and hiring.

Stacy: Yes, but it’s a key to retaining employees after you hire them, too. It’s not just for the recruiting process. You can’t just engage candidates when you’re recruiting them and then forget about them once they’re on board.

Caleb: That makes sense. What other benefits are there for career pathing?

Stacy: Improved talent management. Career pathing can help organizations identify and develop talent within the organization.

Caleb: What does that mean?

Stacy: It means by identifying employees’ strengths and career aspirations, organizations can create development plans that align with their long-term goals. You can connect what your employees want the goals of the organization and make sure that everything is in line.

Another benefit that is related to that benefit is improved succession planning. Career pathing can help organizations identify potential leaders and develop them for future leadership roles within the organization.

Caleb: I see how these benefits are building off one another.

Stacy: Yes, they do! And that’s important because it shows how the benefits are exponential.

And another benefit that you might be able to guess at is improved productivity. When employees are engaged and invested in their work, they are more productive. Career pathing can help employees feel more connected to the organization’s goals and objectives, leading to increased productivity.

Caleb: Yes, I had not even thought about that one, but it makes sense. But what about implementing this whole thing, career pathing? It sounds like it might be difficult to implement.

Stacy: Yes, it can be difficult to implement, and that’s one of the things that make it so challenging for Animal Health and Veterinary employers. However, there are certain steps that employers can take.

The first step in implementing career pathing is to define career paths within the organization. This involves identifying the different roles and positions within the organization and outlining the skills, knowledge, and experience required for each role.

Caleb: And is that regardless of who might currently be in that role?

Stacy: Yes, that’s right. This is just for the organization to define its career paths, not necessarily who is going to fill them at this point in time.

But that’s where the next step comes in, because that step is to assess employee skills and interest. This can be done through assessments, interviews, and performance reviews.

Caleb: Because you have to know where everyone is, right?

Stacy: That’s right. Assessment is important when it comes to career pathing.

And so is the next step, which is identifying development opportunities. Based on the employee’s skills and interests, employers must identify development opportunities that align with their career goals. This can include training, mentoring, job shadowing, and cross-functional assignments.

Caleb: Employees want to know what kind of opportunities exist at their current employer. This is one way they know whether or not they want to continue their employment there.

Stacy: Yes, that’s right, and once development opportunities have been identified, employers must create a development plan that outlines the steps the employee needs to take to achieve their career goals. This plan should include specific goals, timelines, and milestones.

Caleb: Stacy, can you elaborate on that step a little bit more?

Stacy: Sure. Employees should set specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound goals for their development. And of course, that is acronym for SMART goals. These can include attending training or workshops, taking on new responsibilities, or working on specific projects. Employees should create an action plan that outlines the steps they need to take to achieve their development goals. It can include timelines, resources required, and milestones to track progress.

Caleb: And what’s the next step in implementing career pathing at an organization?

Stacy: The next step is the last one, which is monitoring the employee’s progress and adjusting the development plan as needed. This can include providing feedback, coaching, and additional development opportunities.

Caleb: Stacy, now that you’ve gone through all of the steps, it does sound like these are things that employers should be doing, or that they should have been doing, all along.

Stacy: Yes, that’s right. These are the things that employers should be doing and should have been doing all along. The good news is that it’s never too late to start. In fact, if you’re not doing these things as an Animal Health company or Veterinary organization, then I encourage you to start.

Caleb: Stacy, considering how difficult this is, do you have any tips when it comes to career pathing?

Stacy: Yes, I have multiple tips for employers about how they can do it more effectively, and the first tip should not surprise you.

Caleb: Which tip is that?

Stacy: Communicate clearly. Communicate career pathing opportunities and expectations clearly to employees. Be transparent about the process and the requirements for advancement.

Caleb: It always seems like everything comes back to communication, doesn’t it?

Stacy: Yes, it certainly does. You can’t go wrong with communicating well, and the rule when it comes to communicating is that you must strive to over-communicate, because when you think that you’re over-communicating, you’re probably communicating just enough.

Caleb: What’s another tip Stacy?

Stacy: Another tip is encouraging employee input. Encourage employees to provide input into their career pathing plans. This can include their career goals, areas of interest, and preferred development opportunities.

Caleb: How can employers accomplish this?

Stacy: There are multiple ways. One way is through a company-wide survey. However, I believe a face-to-discussion would be best. This shows the employee that you’re truly engaged with them and that you’re interested in not just your job with the organization, but also with their career.

That’s the first reason a face-to-face discussion is better. Another reason is that there is less chance of a miscommunication and a better chance that the organization will find out more about what its employees want for their career. In this case, more information is better. The more information that you have, the better able you’ll be to match employees with the correct career paths.

Caleb: And does that involve our next tip?

Stacy: Yes, it is, and it involves transparency, namely letting employees know the range of development opportunities that are available and that align with their career goals. This can include training, coaching, and job shadowing.

Caleb: Because if they don’t know about the opportunities, then they can’t take advantage of them, correct?

Stacy: That’s right! And I have one more tip, which is to monitor the progress of everything. You know the old saying, “If you can’t measure it, then you can’t improve it.” So you can improve your career pathing endeavors as an employer unless you first measure them.

And while you’re monitoring the progress, be sure to provide feedback and coaching to the employees as needed. This can help employees stay on track and make adjustments to their development plans as needed.

Remember, the ultimate goal is to align career pathing with organizational goals and objectives. This can help ensure that employee development plans align with the organization’s long-term strategy. This is another example of a “win-win” situation. The organization and its employees are winning, both in the short term and in the long run.

Caleb: We’ve been talking about how difficult career pathing can be. What are some of the challenges involved?

Stacy: It is difficult and there are challenges involved.

One of those challenges involves limited opportunities for advancement. In some organizations, there may be limited opportunities it challenging to provide employees with clear career paths. In such a situation, the organization’s employees would be more at risk of leaving the company for another opportunity.

Another challenge is limited resources. Providing employees with development opportunities can require significant resources, including time and money. Smaller organizations might be at a disadvantage in this area, as you can imagine, which is why they have to be even more proactive and more creative in what they do.

Caleb: That makes sense. What other challenges are there when it comes to career pathing?

Stacy: The challenging of balancing organizational needs and employee needs. In a perfect world, they would line up perfectly, but of course, we don’t live in a perfect world. Career pathing programs must strike a balance between the needs of the organization and the needs of the employees. It can be challenging to align individual career goals with the company’s goals and priorities.

Caleb: Stacy, we’re just about out of time, so is there anything else that you’d like to add before we wrap up today’s podcast episode?

Stacy: Yes, there is one more thing that I’d like to mention, and that’s at the heart of career pathing. Organizations have to let their employees know that they are interested in their career. That’s one of the main ways to build trust in the workplace. If employees don’t think that you care or that you are not interested in your career, then they are already a flight risk. At best, they will consider you just a stop until they find the next step on their journey.

Caleb: Stacy, we’ve talked about that a lot—trust. I agree with you. A person has to trust their employer if they’re going to stay with that employer long term.

Stacy: You’re absolutely right. Employees who trust their employer are more likely to remain loyal to the organization, perform at their best, and contribute to its success. That’s because it affects a lot of important things.

Building trust promotes open communication, which we’ve discussed today; it encourages employee engagement; it demonstrates respect, it increases loyalty; and it builds a positive employer brand.

The question that all Animal Health and Veterinary employers should ask themselves is this one: “What can I do to build trust with my employees today?”

Caleb: Stacy, thank you so much for joining us today and for all of this great information about hiring veterinarians.

Stacy: It’s been my pleasure Caleb, and I look forward to our next episode of The Animal Health and Veterinary Employment Insider!

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