“The growth and development of people is the highest calling of leadership.” – Harvey S. Firestone, founder of Firestone Tire & Rubber Company
Are growth opportunities important in your job? Employee engagement is essential to a thriving and effective organization and growth is one of the most important keys to employee engagement. If people aren’t challenging themselves and learning new skills, complacency takes over and the infection of disengagement creeps in.
Growth, as it relates to employees and work, is:
Being stretched and challenged in ways that result in personal and professional progress.
According to the book, ENGAGEMENT MAGIC®: Five Keys to Unlock the Power of Employee Engagement, Growth is the third key and the one that injects life into the employee engagement formula, Meaning, Autonomy, Growth, Impact, and Connection.
Growth gives employees the sense of getting better at something and always expanding into new areas. It’s a universal human need. We become bored, distracted, and disengaged when we feel that our work is routine and repetitive. People crave work experiences that challenge their minds and their skills, and that offer them the chance to rise to the occasion and excel even in high-stress situations.
Here are eight examples of employees or leaders that see growth as essential in employee engagement and how their organizations promote it:
Kyle Wente, EcoEnclose
To promote personal and professional growth, we organize monthly knowledge-sharing workshops. The topic of each workshop is left entirely up to the employees and can include both professional, as well as personal ‘life’ skills. Some of these workshops have included topics like advanced Excel tips, and an intro to Adobe Creative Suite. However, we’ve also devoted a monthly workshop to team building activities including an introduction to rock climbing seminar. As long as there is enough interest and an expert available to lead the workshop, no topic is off limits.
Employees have really enjoyed the growth initiative and challenge of working outside their current areas of expertise while learning new skills and engaging with colleagues.
Alex Buck, Taher Food Services Management
At Taher, we have multiple programs to help our employees grow personally, physically, and professionally. We have access to our licensed dietitians for input on meal planning and what foods to eat. Included in that is our Healthy-is-the-new-cool initiative that encourages employees to volunteer. The program also exposes them to new foods and experiences like our visit to The Fish Guys to show where we source some of our seafood and try some amazing new dishes!
Cristian Rennella, oMelhorTrato.com
We are a technology company composed of engineers, programmers, and designers. In the last 9 years, we have tested 27 different techniques, from tradeshows, brainstorming sessions, motivational speakers every 2 months, and more, to encourage the professional growth of each person who is part of our team.
After all these years and experiments, we concluded that the best opportunities for personal growth and commitment to the company are in educating employees on new technologies that will improve their careers and our organization.
Recently our company has encouraged every employee to better learn Artificial Intelligence through online training at Udacity. Once the course is complete, we allot Fridays to work on newly learned skills, personal interests, and projects that will benefit the company.
Through continuous education of new technologies and the challenge of putting them into practice, employee engagement and growth have noticeably increased within the organization.
The results we have seen with this technique have been amazing.
Matt Collins, Loans Now
At our company, we constantly put in the effort towards helping our staff become more skillful and better equipped for their careers. We often assess our team to define which skills we lack that could make our business more efficient or effective. Instead of hiring new specialists to target one specific skill, we empower our current employees and pay for their advanced training in the areas that would be most beneficial to our business. Not only is this much less expensive than bringing in someone new, but our most engaged employees typically jump at the chance to learn a new skill, as it gives them a way to increase their career development with no personal expense.
As a bonus, once an employee has gained knowledge in a new area, they train and assist other team members. This means that for each employee we support in gaining new knowledge, we can ensure that these new skills will be exponentially valuable to our operations.
Cody Clifton, Wholesale Lanyards
We send our employees on business retreats that are designed to provide training as well as a little rest and relaxation. We are also offering to pay tuition for classes that are related to our industry. Additionally, we are sending our employees to national or international conferences where industry experts will be speaking.
By providing opportunities like these, we are showing our employees that they’re worth the investment. Offering growth opportunities like these are valuable to our employees. They understand that expanding their knowledge base and skillsets translates to promotions and increased income. These opportunities also help our employee engagement and our recruiting process. Job seekers see these benefits as a bonus to our other company perks.
Megan Larsen, Arbor Financial Group
I used to work at a public relations firm in Beverly Hills, where I was the definition of MISERABLE. I now work as the Public Relations and Marketing Coordinator for Arbor Financial Group in Orange County.
The difference between the two companies is night and day. Arbor promotes growth. They commonly send their employees to conferences and trade shows to help us network and grow! This past April I was sent to the National Association of Professional Mortgage Women Conference in Las Vegas with two other Female Co-Workers. Two other employees recently visited Michigan for the UWM Fast Track Growth Seminar for Mortgage Professionals and they said it was an amazing experience.
Working for a company that promotes growth and has an open-door policy is truly amazing. The Principal of the company sits each employee down and asks where they see themselves growing within the company. I think it’s a total game changer working for an employer that is so in tune with employee’s personal and professional growth. I don’t see myself ever looking to leave this company––I’m very happy here.
Augustin Kennedy, ShipMonk
One thing I’m very grateful for is that our CEO promotes and funds our professional development on the job. We have a program in which we take a course online either in our field or in any niche of our interest, and then we present what we’ve learned every quarter. This opportunity has enabled me to learn things on the job that I’ve never actually thought about, and it has made me a better-rounded employee overall.
Aaron Udler, OfficePro
It’s mandatory for employees to take continuing education classes. I don’t care about the subject matter. It can be business related, learning a new language, or something else. Being an education company, I want my employees to always be learning new things and keeping their brain active.
We encourage employees to attend tradeshows each year. We either attend or exhibit at 3-5 trade shows a year. I use this as both a bonus and an educational opportunity for members of my team to see what else is out there. It’s usually pretty eye-opening for them to see industry trends first hand.
Growth Isn’t (ALWAYS) About Advancement
These were all great examples of leaders and employees seeing growth opportunities within their organization. It’s interesting to see that most of the comments focused on intellectual growth or advancing skills. Not many mentioned growth as related to advancing in position or pay.
As stated in the book, ENGAGEMENT MAGIC®, “Growth does not necessarily equal promotion. In fact, when we (DecisionWise) survey employees about growth, their responses aren’t focused on near-term promotions. However, a significant percentage of managers automatically assume that employees equate growth with job promotion and a fancier title.”
Growth is essential to employee engagement and goes far beyond a higher position or a better parking space.