According to a 2020 report by the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median tenure of an employee in the private sector was 3.7 years.  The median tenure for an employee in the public sector is nearly double that at 6.5 years.  When this number is highlighted against the soaring costs of employee turnover, which is estimated to be 33% of the workers annual salary, it becomes evident public sector employers should be jumping for joy.  But many still feel there is a serious turn over problem in the public sector.

In this 2016 study, 30% of public safety employees changing careers cited “Lack of direction from upper management” as their number one reason for leaving. 

What’s one simple way we can ensure employees have “direction” from upper management? The answer is a career roadmap: a clear laid out plan for your future within the organization. From day one an employee will know the direction their career is headed and the investment the organization is committed to making in them.

Career roadmaps are fairly simple to develop but can pay dividends in terms of employee satisfaction, organizational performance, and retention.  In fact, organizations with defined professional development plans have employee retention rates 34% higher than those without.

Career road maps are good for the employer too.  It allows the organization to more accurately plan their training costs, improves current performance, and ensure continuity of leadership in the future.  It may also help eliminate nepotism and disputes as the career development paths are laid out for everyone to see. 

My first career was in law enforcement, so it’s where I have the most familiarity and why I chose to use it as an example.  But a career road map can be applied to any public sector job, and the milestones and events on the road map can be negotiated into collective bargaining agreements.

An example of a career roadmap in law enforcement might look something like this:

•       Police Academy FTO, Probationary Period
•       1st Anniversary – Advanced DUI Course
•       2nd Anniversary – Advanced Traffic Investigations
•       3rd. Anniversary- Narcotics interdiction for the patrol officer
•       4th Anniversary – Interview and Interrogation
•       5th Anniversary – FTO Course
•       6th Anniversary – Advanced Crime Scene investigation
•       7th Anniversary- First Line Supervisors Course
•       8th Anniversary – Elective based on interest (Investigative track or administrative track)

This is just a hypothetical example; however, the point is to choose trainings and assignments that coincide with the normal growth and development of the position. Typically, new cops work midnights and handle lots of DUI’s and traffic accidents.  As they gain experience, they build on more complicated skills like drug interdiction and detecting deception.  At the 5-year mark, FTO course gives the first dose of leadership experience priming them for promotion while also pollinating new officers with experiences and knowledge. 

At the seven-year mark, everyone goes to first line supervisors’ course, preparing them to be leaders before they ever put on any rank.  This idea can be kind of controversial as some people feel only supervisors should be trained to be supervisors.  That thinking is backward and sets new leaders up for failure.  At the 8-year mark, employees get to choose from a few different career tracks.  Some may favor investigative over administrative, or tactical over technical. 

The road map will look different at each organization, and it may have a menu of options to select at each milestone on the map.  The point is to always empower the employee to grow and build on their training and experience.  The transparency of knowing that the organization has already committed to an employee’s future success will go a long way to improving performance, satisfactions, and employee retention.



If you think something like a career roadmap would help you and your organization, Nutmeg wants to know, and we want to be your partner in developing your future successes.