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DEIA | Career Orientation and Retention

June 23rd, 2022

As we continue navigating The Great Resignation, it’s now more important than ever to foster an inclusive work environment where employees feel a sense of belonging. One way to enhance an employee’s sense of belonging is to show them how much you care about their career satisfaction, success in their current role, AND success in future responsibilities or roles they aspire to secure. According to a former Business Management professor, C. Brooklyn Derr, career satisfaction means different things to different people. That’s why he proposed the 5 Career Orientations Framework in 1986 and they still ring true today. Derr believed the following.

  • Career Orientations are not labels. They describe career values that are important or motivating to individuals at a specific point in time. Thus, Career Orientations can change over time.
  • No one Career Orientation is better than the other.
  • Individuals are more passionate and productive when their role aligns with their career orientation.

Here’s each career orientation and its associated characteristics.

Career OrientationCharacteristics
Getting AheadStrives for increased influence, impact, and visible signs of advancement (e.g., promotions, raises, making partners, increase in authority). Avoids low visibility roles or roles with no opportunity for advancement.
Getting SecureStrives for recognition, job security, respect, and loyalty from the organization. Often avoid high-risk assignments, short-term assignments with no logical path forward, or jobs where they feel underappreciated.
Getting FreeStrives for autonomy and control over their work methods. Thrives when allowed to determine their approach. Will challenge the status quo or the “we’ve always done it that way” view to improve processes and results. Will not do well being closely managed.
Getting BalancedStrives for a meaningful balance between work, relationships, and other interests. Desires to do personally satisfying work Avoids roles with constant travel and continuous over time or rigid and unpredictable schedules.
Getting ExcitedStrives for challenging, cutting-edge work and stimulating tasks. Finds work rewarding and enjoys ideating new and better ways to do work. Avoids roles in routine work environments.

If you’d like to learn more about the Five Career Orientations Framework and how to measure it in your workplace, contact Sherrice Sledge-Thomas, VP of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Access.

Feel free to schedule a DEIA Consultation to learn more. 

Sherrice Thomas 
Vice President of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Access
SherriceThomas@columbus.org