How to build a career mobility strategy for your entire workforce

No people, no company.

Table of contents

Chapter 1

What is career mobility?

The best definition of career mobility is any job movement that makes the life of an employee better.

In this chapter, we'll explore the definition of career mobility, why it's especially important for frontline workers, and the crucial difference between career paths and career pathways.

Talent is everywhere — but opportunity is not.

“The #1 most impactful practice for driving business, talent, and innovation outcomes is creating extensive career growth opportunities.”

The Josh Bersin Company research study of 94 L&D practices across 1,000+ organizations
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Career mobility can be vertical or lateral.

The best definition of career mobility is any job movement that makes the life of an employee better.

What is a career path?

A linear path may make sense in a traditional “high-potential” mobility context.

For example, Sarah is hired as a Data Analyst, then promoted to Senior Data Analyst, then promoted to Analytics Manager.

But “high-potential” is a bit of a misnomer. What it really means is “proven potential,” in the form of prior performance or credentials.

What is a career pathway?

There is high potential in employees who haven’t had the right opportunity to demonstrate it yet.

That’s a core reason career pathways are so powerful.

Joe is hired as a Customer Support Representative, then upskills through short-form learning into an IT Support Specialist role, then completes an education program and is promoted to Associate Software Engineer. 

The traditional linear career path lacks accessibility, particularly for frontline talent.

Chapter 2

Why investing in career mobility matters right now

Employees are putting a premium on career advancement opportunities. Employers need a strong employer value proposition in order to attract – and retain – talent.

In this chapter, we cover why employers are prioritizing expanding their internal mobility efforts right now, and how they are already seeing powerful results.

Career mobility is a driver of sustainability for companies.

1. Competing in today’s labor market means seeing talent differently.

According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, if every unemployed person found a job, there would still be close to 5 million unfilled jobs.

U.S. Chamber of Commerce (March 2023)³

2. Today’s employees are putting a premium on their future skills and mobility.

“I applied for (a) job because I wanted to learn about finances, but at the same time I felt like at such a big company, they have to offer something else. During my interview, I actually asked him on the spot, ‘Do you offer anything else? Potentially higher education?’”

Omar, Financial Services Worker

How unlocking career mobility boosts talent attraction and retention

3 out of 4 employees who do not hold an undergraduate degree select Tuition Assistance over Tuition Reimbursement, increasing to 9 out of 10 employees with no college experience.

 Guild internal data over the last 12 months (01/01/2023)

Investing in career mobility leads to powerful employer outcomes.

Multiply engagement


For every one enrolled Guild learner an average 10 additional employees engage as Guild members in Year 1. In Years 2+, an average 4 additional employees engage for every one learner.⁷

Boost retention


Guild members were 1.5x less likely to leave their employer in the last 12 months relative to non-engaged employees, at no cost to the employer.⁷

Grow referrals


of employees engaged with the Guild education benefit are more likely to refer others to their employer. ⁸

Chapter 3

The dangers of “owning your own development” vs. employer supported career advancement

Telling your employees that they are in charge of "owning their own development" puts all the onus of career development onto them.

The result? It disproportionately disadvantages those in greatest need of growth opportunity: people in entry-level, frontline, and automation-risky roles. 

In this chapter, we'll discuss why this approach often fails, and how tailored academic programs paired with 1:1 coaching can lead to better career mobility outcomes.

Tell us: How many promotions has your company made based on whether an employee watched a video? 

A lack of standardization within the Learning Experience Platform category makes it unclear what an employee can expect on the other end of completing their journey.

Why employees "owning their own development" doesn't produce outcomes

How different are academic outcomes with 1:1 personalized coaching support? 

Personalized coaching accelerates employee outcomes.

Higher graduation rates


higher non-degree program on-time graduation rate for coached vs. self-serve learners.

Improved academic advancement


higher academic advancement rate from a Guild foundational program (High School, College Prep) for coached graduates vs self-serve graduates.

Increased credit transfer


more transferred college credits on average for coached learners vs. self-serve learners in Learning Marketplace Bachelors degree programs that accept transfer credits. 

Chapter 4

How to build a career mobility framework

Building an equitable career mobility framework starts with ensuring the right foundation for mobility is there.

In this chapter, we will go over the first crucial steps employers can take to align on a vision for mobility and outcomes.

1. Gather internal and external data

2. Align on mobility goals and desired outcomes

3. Identify 2-4 key career pathways mapped to priority roles

4. Rally internal champions

Identify the right partners to accelerate your vision.

With a DIY approach, scalability becomes impossible...

...and education and skills seldom align.

Beware of choosing the wrong partner.

Chapter 5

The ROI of career mobility

Historically, career mobility has been the exception – not the rule. This has made it's impact on a company's bottom line extremely difficult to measure.

However, when employers start strategically executing against career mobility frameworks, data can now be collected and measured at scale.

In this chapter, we'll cover what ROI you can expect from career mobility.

If your current L&D efforts are not driving ROI, it's time to reassess.

Growing your talent means growing your business.

Return on investment


Companies that work with Guild realize an average $3 in savings for every $1 invested.

Lower attrition


Employees enrolled in an education program through Guild are 2.1x less likely to leave than non-engaged peers. 

Improve attraction


86% of employees who engaged with the Guild education benefit are more likely to refer others to their employer.

Want a deeper dive into career mobility?


  1. The Josh Bersin Company, Career Pathways: Building Tomorrow’s Workforce Today, p2, 2022.
    2.  Guild’s American Workforce Survey Report. © October 2022.
    3.  U.S. Chamber of Commerce, America Works Data Center, accessed 30 March 2023. 
    4. Robert Half International, “Nearly Half of U.S. Workers Plan to Look for a New Position in the New Year,” 2022.
    5. BLS Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics, 2021
    6. Guild’s internal data over the last 12 months as of 01/01/2023
    7. Guild’s internal data over the last 12 months as of 01/01/2023 from employers who have provided the required data for at least 13 months post launch
    8. Guild Membership Research Survey conducted in September of 2019
    9. Guild's cumulative internal data as of 01/01/2023
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