Your 2023 Recruitment Strategy? Creating Career Opportunity.

It’s hard to find good people in today’s labor market, but even harder to keep them. According to a recent study by McKinsey, 40% of workers said there was a chance they’d be leaving their current jobs in the next 3-6 months, many without another job in hand, while Pew Research reported that 63% of people said having “no opportunities for advancement” was a top reason to quit.

As organizations scramble for top talent, they must also grapple with this evolving set of needs, wants, and lifestyle preferences from today’s employee. Along with better pay and purpose-driven work, employees want opportunities for career growth. They want to think beyond a job, and build a career that provides a better future. 

To better recruit talent, employers must offer career pathways for the frontline into management roles and beyond — along with access to the skills needed to get there. Creating extensive opportunities for career growth benefits more than just employees, too. According to a 2022 report by The Bersin Company, the “singular most impactful practice for driving talent, business and innovation outcomes is ‘creating extensive opportunities for career growth.’”1

And yet, a 2022 Gartner survey found that while the majority of HR professionals cited talent shortages as their #1 concern, only 19% were prepared to address critical gaps in talent pipelines.

How do employers bridge the gap?

Lack of talent pipeline … or a lack of opportunity?

Guild polled frontline workers across industries on their interest in pursuing higher-skill jobs, and a resounding 83% said they felt additional education was needed to advance their careers2. The chance of better salaries and more predictable working hours lay behind a steep economic and educational barrier.  

Many employers offering education benefits follow the tuition reimbursement model. The employee signs up for classes, pays tuition up front using their own money, and the company reimburses them later for enrollment costs. Yet, for many frontline and underserved populations, accumulating the capital needed to pay for coursework upfront is impossible, especially when over a quarter of Americans struggle to pay their monthly bills. In addition, with 55% of frontline workers in Guild programs identifying as primary caretakers3, finding the time and support needed to pursue education is a challenge. 

It’s not that these populations lack the talent, capability, or wherewithal to succeed. It’s a lack of opportunity. 

Unlock opportunity with career pathways for priority roles

According to the Josh Bersin Company, a scant 17% of employers offer opportunities for career growth, and even fewer (11%) are creating career pathways into high-priority positions4. To stay competitive in today’s talent market, however, employers must now illuminate opportunities for education, experience, and skills that lead to the jobs of the future. Leading organizations are fostering cultures of opportunity, leading to career and economic mobility for all. 

This is why employers like Chipotle, Walmart, and Waste Management (WM) have reimagined their talent strategies to make opportunity their unifying vision. When she was the Chief People Officer at WM, Tamla Oates-Forney, told the New York Times, “we knew we had to do something radically different to make Waste Management attractive when you have other companies looking for the same type of worker. There is such a war for talent that compensation isn’t a differentiator.” WM invested in employee education, funding the educational costs of bachelor’s and associate degrees as well certificates in much needed disciplines like business management and data analytics. To further differentiate their offering, they even expanded the program to fund education costs for their employees’ dependents. 

Amid the labor crisis in healthcare, Bon Secours Mercy Health (BSMH), one of the nation’s largest health systems, took a similar approach. Their previous education benefit was underutilized as it was not accessible to frontline workers without degrees. They wanted more employees to come to BSMH to start a job, find their calling, and grow their career. Their innovative workforce planning strategy included equitable, affordable, and strategic education benefits, and subsequent career pathways into high priority roles like medical assistants, medical lab scientists and nurses. The talent outcomes followed quickly: 52% of employees surveyed cited the new education benefit as a factor in their decision to join BSMH. In addition, Chief People Officer for BSMH’s Core Operations notes that today, turnover has flatlined.5 

Creating a culture of opportunity

By investing in career pathways for your employees, you not only unlock the ability to move workers into priority roles, you grow your business with improved talent attraction, retention, and innovation outcomes. 

Our guide, The New Social Contract With Your Workforce, outlines the changing relationship between employers and employees and key elements that foster cultures of opportunity. We’ll show you the three steps you can take now to design and implement a strategic education program that drives opportunity through career mobility. 

New Social Contract


1“Career Pathways: Building Tomorrow’s Workforce” – The Josh Bersin Company ©2022
2Guild Membership Research Survey of Guild members applying to a degree program in June 2021
3Guild’s survey responses from random and representative Guild Certified Network learners over the last 12 months as of 07.01.2022
4“Career Pathways: Building Tomorrow’s Workforce” – The Josh Bersin Company ©2022
5From Guild Case Study on BSMH – ©2022