Definition: Career Plateau

Career plateau is the point in time in a professional’s career, where the possibility of a vertical promotion is less. The position of the employee becomes stagnant with same and repetitive work and responsibilities. Because of the way organizations are shaped, the hierarchy of organizations reduce the possibility of employees to grow vertically after a point in time. 

At every higher level of organizational hierarchy, the number of positions decrease. Hence upwards mobility becomes difficult with the positions not being open or with more people vying for the same position.

When the employees feel trapped and stuck in such situations, the Human Resource function of the organization is responsible to provide opportunities for lateral mobility to avoid a feeling of stagnation among employees. The current job has to be made more meaningful and engaging, and the employees have to be rewarded by alternate means in the absence of promotions.

Plateauing is an issue faced by individuals wherein they feel that their present is not progressive and their future is ambiguous. When their lives stabilize individuals can become very dissatisfied. 

Dissatisfied employees are a drawback to organizations and hence it is important to ensure employees do not plateau. This can be done by providing a variety of training and developing opportunities in specialized technical skills or general skills such as foreign language. 

Organizations also take up career planning initiatives where individual employees are given a personalized career growth plan. One major challenge with plateauing is that people may not be aware of the problem they are facing; hence it makes it difficult for the HR to address the issue.

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