The 2019 Employee Engagement Report found that one of the top 10 drivers of engagement is the opportunity for learning and development. In fact, employees ranked growth opportunities higher than compensation when it comes to what keeps them engaged.
Learning and development are often relegated to workshops or traditional education. But there are so many more ways to grow your employees’ skill sets. This growth not only serves the employee but also your business. As a result of learning and development opportunities, your employees will be more skilled and engaged.
What does this look like in practice?
A revolutionary form of learning and development
Our client, Bose Corporation, implemented a great program that offers employees opportunities for growth while breaking down organizational silos.
Bose’s Global Head of Talent Development, Cheryl Kulaccz, and its Director of Talent Acquisition, Jennifer McKaughan, shared an inventive way of developing employees at the 2019 OPTIMA conference.
Employees had expressed a desire to have access to opportunities to help broaden their career experiences and reach their fullest potential. In response, Bose created a program it calls the “gig marketplace.”
The gig marketplace offers Bose employees across the globe new career experience through short-term assignments, job shadowing, or project work. These assignments occupy up to 30% of employees’ time—and can take as long as six months.
The nuts and bolts of the gig marketplace
Gigs mirror the format of an internship or co-op program. The first step for gig “hosts” is to create the gig assignment. These gigs aren’t created randomly—they’re treated like any other job within the organization. They go through a rigorous defining process, answering a multitude of questions:
- How long is the assignment?
- How many hours will the employee need to invest?
- What are the key metrics for success?
- What skills or behavioral traits are needed?
Gigs are then posted internally. Much like a standard hiring process, employees apply for the position and are interviewed to ensure they’re a good fit for the role.
Once an employee is selected for the opportunity, there’s onboarding for the gig host, managers, and participants. This ensures everyone understands their role, responsibilities, and metrics for success.
Throughout the gig, the talent team is checking in on progress. Is the experience rewarding for the employee? Is the gig host getting what they need out of the assignment?
At the end of the gig, Bose offboards all participants and asks them about their experience. By collecting qualitative feedback on the assignment, the company continues to refine the process and improve the program to bring about desired results: happy employees, increased engagement, and better work.
How the gig marketplace transformed Bose
Bose’s brand promise is to help people reach their fullest potential—whether they’re customers or employees. The gig marketplace was born from that promise. It changed the way Bose moved people around the company, how managers viewed employees, and even how talent was sourced.
Whereas many organizations offer leadership development programs for promising employees, the gig marketplace allowed lower-level people to raise their hands for an opportunity. When employees were occupied with gig work, managers learned to develop their bench strength.
What’s more, gigs cross-pollinated talent. It allowed employees from across the organization to get to know one another, work collaboratively, and learn what other departments and teams are working on. This cross-functional work broke down organizational silos, creating more visibility into the work being done.
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to career pathing.
With the exception of roles in which there’s a clear path to promotion—such as business development representative to account executive—career pathing often alludes leaders.
At the end of the day, there’s no right way to help your employees grow. Some may achieve vertical growth. Others may move laterally to new positions that intrigue them. And still others may enjoy remaining in an individual contributor role—in addition to being involved in experiences such as Bose’s gig marketplace.
It’s essential to intentionally design something that gives employees the opportunity to learn, grow, and develop new skills. That’s the key to engagement.