Career plateau

What is career plateau?

What is a career plateau? Imagine a situation, where an employee reaches the highest possible position in the company and has no other options of vertical promotion. Usually in such cases the employee has to do the same job over and over again with no potential for professional growth. Ultimately this leads to stagnation in his/her career development. Such situation is called career plateau.

There are both external and internal reasons for that:

External reasons include company type, size or level of seniority. In a private or family owned businesses career steps to senior managements are far less than in an international corporation. In such companies top management usually works for decades with little or no turnover.

Internal reasons include employee’s lack of confidence or just the opposite, overconfidence, in professional skills and experience. Another internal reason for career plateau may include the lack of excitement and feeling challenged by the work. If that’s the case of your employees, organize development training to help them move forward and overcome the stagnancy.

How does a career plateau affect employees?

Employees in a career plateau tend to spend less time and effort on work-related activities. Therefore employees compensate this disappointment in other non-work activities. According to researchers, people involve in non-work activities to fulfill their needs and keep up their self-esteem. Such activities may include spending more time with families and friends, leisure, volunteering and other types of community activities.

How should HR function in response to a career plateau?

Plateaued employees feel trapped and stuck, and HR function should be able to create opportunities for employee mobility within the company, getting new challenging projects or nonwork activities to avoid stagnation among employees. Overall goal of HR in handling career plateaus should include increasing engagement and meaningfulness of the employee’s job. HR should also introduce other types of rewards to substitute promotions. Check out other ways to motivate tech teams.

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