HR Glossary for HR Professionals

Glossary of the most common HR terms and acronyms to assist professionals navigating the ever-growing and ever-changing world of HR terminology.

Career Plateau

What is a Career Plateau?

A career plateau is a situation in which an employee has reached the highest level position they can within their company.

This often occurs when an employee has gained more skills and knowledge than they can use in a given role. As a result, the employee feels as though they have advanced beyond the original scope of their position—and possibly even feel as though they no longer belong in their organization.

How Does a Career Plateau Affect Employees in the Workplace?

HR professionals may recognize the following signs that indicate an employee feels as though they’ve hit a career plateau:

  1. Disengagement: Employees are less interested and engaged in their work, the organization, and their fellow coworkers.
  2. Demoralization: Employees feel as though their contributions no longer matter.
  3. Diminished Work Product: When employees think they’ve hit a career plateau, it’s common for them to take their output less seriously, rush projects, and half-heartedly complete tasks.
  4. Active Job Searching: Employees who believe they don’t have a place in the future of the company will almost certainly look for positions elsewhere.

How Can Performance Management Help Identify and Address a Career Plateau?

Performance management tactics have changed in the past several years. Now, employers are increasingly relying on regular 1:1 meetings between managers and their direct reports to offer constructive coaching, stay updated on an employee’s performance, and cover compliance concerns on a regular basis.

In these same meetings, managers can more easily identify and address concerns from an employee Is they feel as though they’ve hit a career plateau.

How Can Companies Help Employees Avoid Career Plateaus?

Not all is lost if an employee feels as though they’ve hit a career plateau. There are a few tips and tactics that HR and managers can employ. These include:

  1. Carve Out New Roles: If willing and able, companies can create new roles for employees who have advanced beyond the scope of their existing job. This is an especially viable option for organizations that are growing and adding new components to their products or services.
  2. Upgrade Benefits: Employee benefits are key to keeping employees happy—an essential factor in employee retention. According to a recent SHRM Employee Benchmark Survey, 92% of employees surveyed indicated that employee benefits significantly impacted overall job satisfaction.
  3. Work on Retention Strategies: Employee retention refers to an organization’s ability to keep its employees and is usually represented as a percentage that is calculated on an annual basis. Review this resource to upgrade your strategies now and in the future.
  4. Commit to 1:1s and Professional Development: During 1:1 meetings, managers can work with direct reports to identify areas for improvement, skill development, and more to encourage employees to continue challenging themselves.
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