Corporate Ladder Actually More Like a Lattice



For more than a decade, career development has been diverting from the linear path of “ladder climbing” which was ultimately thought to lead to greater pay and influence, but not much in terms of personal growth or new skills. Back then, professionals that moved place to place every couple years were still something of an anomaly and often associated with commitment issues or freshly minted college graduates. In 2018, however, a Deloitte study revealed that 43% of millennials at the time were planning to quit their jobs within the next two years, according to Forbes1.

If that sounds familiar, that might be due to the fact that millennials are once again planning to either quit or change jobs in the post-pandemic world. Indeed, the pandemic has only made what is commonly referred to as the corporate lattice more relevant. According to Fast Company, today’s workforce is more interested in considering new paths and learning new skills than climbing any corporate ladder. In fact, recent studies found that among those professionals currently eyeing greener pastures, reasons for doing so primarily revolved around a lack of perceived growth opportunities in their current role2.

Indeed, corporate America is still playing the catch-up game when it comes to figuring out how to effectively reskill, upskill and grow their talent while others are more concerned with how to afford it. As such, recruiters and human resource managers are looking closely at transferrable skills and are much less concerned with job hopping. But for those unwilling to change companies for whatever reason, how can they continue to grow while their company is still figuring out how to engage with them on growth?

One way, according to Forbes, is through investing in oneself. The institution of higher education is responding to the occupational switches brought on by automation and other factors by providing affordable, and in some cases free, online learning models. For those already burdened with college debt but still have a desire to learn and do something new with their career, these programs can make the difference between being stuck in a dead-end role or migrating onto an entirely new career path1.

Racking up transferrable skills is another method that not only beefs up one’s resume in a short period of time, but also helps to diversify one’s network especially for those just entering the professional world. With the stigma around job hopping abating in the business realm, those brazen enough to move where growth takes them can benefit from this strategy1.

In the long-term, however, fostering employee growth inevitably falls back onto the shoulders of the company. Finding opportunities to grow employees through mentorship, networking and special projects, to name but a few, are a good place to start. As remote roles continue their forward mobility in today’s professional realm, employment engagement will also need to include hybrid working models so that those working remotely are seeing equal opportunities for growth and companies are spending their development dollars effectively.

In a recent interview with Fast Company, Vice President of digital talent transformation for Schneider Electric, Jean Pelletier advised, “Technology can help level the playing field and give equal access to all.” On the other hand, she adds, “If you have an employee sitting at a small satellite office, far from your primary headquarters, and they aren’t seeing opportunities for growth, they might just leave…The most important need for businesses today is: Keep your employees engaged, no matter where they are2.”


  1. Agarwal, Anant. “Why Today’s Professionals are Taking the Career Road Less Traveled.Forbes. 21 Oct. 2018. Accessed on 27 Aug. 2021.
  2. Reuveni, Ben. “Careers are No Longer Ladders to Climb…Fast Company. 25 Aug. 2021. Accessed on 27 Aug. 2021.


Source: MICPA

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