Career Frameworks deliver positive return, Mercer study reveals

  • December 21, 2015
  • United States, New York

Unprecedented numbers of companies are seeking to ‘build from within’ and career frameworks are heralded as a cornerstone of success


As the marketplace for quality talent remains competitive, employers are assessing their strategies for attracting and retaining top-performing employees. According to Mercer’s 2015 Career Frameworks in Talent Management Survey, more than three-quarters (76%) of organizations worldwide report their Career Framework delivered a positive return on their investment. Moreover, 73% of employers are planning to continue with their current strategy of “building” talent from within their organizations rather than “buying” talent from the external marketplace.

“Attracting and retaining the right talent continues to be a challenge for companies as a result of the competitive job market, flat compensation budgets, shortage in critical skillsets, and a constantly changing business environment,” said Kate Bravery, Partner and Global Solutions Leader for Mercer’s Talent business. “Employers recognize that their employees are the key to success in today’s global economy. By focusing on developing and outlining career paths, they can influence employees’ growth potential within the company, improve retention efforts, and cost-effectively develop a workforce that contributes to higher business performance.”

Consistent with the overwhelmingly positive response to the benefits of Career Frameworks, an outcome which other HR processes often struggle to achieve, just 3% of employers plan to shift from their current approach of building talent to buying it in the upcoming year. The priority business challenges related to talent – that impact career frameworks – are increasing employee mobility, engagement, and retention (56%); benchmarking rewards and compensation (56%); and accelerating talent strategies to execute business objectives (53%). While these challenges are prevalent worldwide, the prominence varies by region based on career philosophy, talent needs, and effective use of career toolkits and training.

“As companies seek to align employee expectations for career experiences with organizational needs to build the talent pipeline, we are witnessing an increase in discussions around the ‘science of structure’ and how to align expectations around career transparency, velocity and control,” said Ms. Bravery.

In North America, just more than one-third (35%) of organizations have a career framework in place and less than half define the rate at which employees should advance within the organization, resulting in different expectations between the employer and employee. “There is tremendous opportunity to close this gap. With today’s multi-generational workforce, the key to employee engagement is demonstrating career paths and journeys tied to experiences and capabilities,” said Ilene Siscovick, Partner and Global Careers Leader for Mercer. “Portals, mobile apps, and interactive communication tools are the most effective platforms for connecting with employees.”

While one in two organizations in Europe has a career framework in place, an additional 41% have plans to implement one. However, organizations in this region are the least likely to have transparency with employees as to what is needed to progress within the organization.

Although most organizations in Asia with career frameworks do not have complete ones, strategic workforce planning is one of the main uses for a career framework in this region.

Among the survey’s other findings:

·         Half (50%) of organizations worldwide currently use career frameworks and an additional 37% plan to implement a career framework.

·         The top talent programs driven by the career framework are training and development (73%), performance management (62%), career pathing (61%), and succession planning (61%).

·         More than three-quarters (76%) of organizations globally using career frameworks believe their investment has paid off in terms of ROI.

“Undoubtedly, career frameworks are essential for effective workforce planning and talent management worldwide,” said Ms. Bravery. “Not only do they result in higher employee engagement levels and mitigated loss of talent, they provide a structure on which to base rewards, performance management, and development actions – enabling the individual and the organization to thrive and deliver business value.”

The 2015 Career Frameworks in Talent Management Survey was conducted in partnership with Human Capital Media Advisory Group, the research arm of Talent Management and Workforce magazines. The survey, which includes responses from 1,785 HR professionals from more than 100 countries across more than 19 industries, examined organizations’ current practices and future plans around career frameworks.

About Mercer

Mercer is a global consulting leader in talent, health, retirement and investments. Mercer helps clients around the world advance the health, wealth and performance of their most vital asset – their people. Mercer’s more than 20,000 employees are based in 43 countries and the firm operates in over 140 countries. Mercer is a wholly owned subsidiary of Marsh & McLennan Companies (NYSE: MMC), a global professional services firm offering clients advice and solutions in the areas of risk, strategy and people. With 57,000 employees worldwide and annual revenue exceeding $13 billion, Marsh & McLennan Companies is also the parent company of Marsh, a leader in insurance broking and risk management; Guy Carpenter, a leader in providing risk and reinsurance intermediary services; and Oliver Wyman, a leader in management consulting. For more information, visit Follow Mercer on Twitter @Mercer.

About Human Capital Media

The Human Capital Media Research and Advisory Group is the research division of Human Capital Media, publisher of Chief Learning Officer, Talent Management and Workforce magazines. The Research and Advisory Group specializes in partnered research solutions – customizable and proprietary deliverables that integrate seamlessly with existing sales and marketing programs. Leveraging our access to senior-level decision-makers and proven HR industry expertise, we undertake market and thought leadership research in the human resources industry. Creating custom content and presenting thought leadership research are all part of the Research and Advisory Group’s focus.