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Culture Amp Launches a New Employee Development Solution
In our current talent marketplace, employers are focused heavily on employee retention and engagement. Learning and development programs can be one benefit that supports both, as well as improve employer brand and our ability to attract talent. Adding opportunities for personal development, such as learning a new coding language — even if the skills gained aren’t directly transferable to job performance — can communicate to employees that their personal growth is just as important to the company as their productivity.
In fact, skills training is one of the top perks younger workers look for in a new job, according to a 2021 Gallup survey conducted on behalf of Amazon. In that survey, 66 percent of workers ages 18-24 ranked learning new skills as the third-most important perk when evaluating new job opportunities, behind only health insurance and disability benefits.
Aside from retention and engagement benefits, consider the challenge of reskilling half your workforce with entirely new competencies to stay competitive. The World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report indicates that 50% of all employees will need to reskill by 2025. Whether employees find growth opportunities within your organization, or outside of it, depends on your ability to persuade your workforce that your company offers a career path that will meet their needs.
Those are the numbers, but anecdotally, most of us in HR have experienced the results of attrition and watching so many employees juggle multiple roles while we’re short-staffed and working hard to keep everyone (including ourselves) from getting burned out. This is why I was so excited to get a preview of Culture Amp’s new employee development solution called Develop.
How Develop by Culture Amp Supports Retention and Engagement
Our employees deserve to have a genuinely motivating future at work, and that happens through effective development that’s continuous, personalized and really driven by the employee with the manager supporting that journey. If an employee has a manager who shows an interest in their career, they’re more likely to be motivated, committed, want to stay at the company for longer, and less likely to look for another job.
Develop is powered by people science and it goes way beyond the traditional models of learning that we’re used to seeing in our LMS. It allows organizations to shift from conventional prescriptive development to a human conversation that explores the employee’s own motivators to understand how their needs and that of the organization align over time, resulting in employee development that really works for both parties.
It’s also grounded in the “three Es” of employee development: Experience, exposure and education. This takes organizational learning and development beyond simply learning through courses or through LMS.
Creating a Personalized Development Plan With Culture Amp Develop
The interface is really clean and easy to use. I love the icons and navigation. Employees can use this after the performance cycle where they get feedback from their peers and manager. Then, with that performance feedback, they create a development plan. In a lot of organizations, this process is left to managers to have a review conversation with team members, but Develop is a guided experience that provides a structure to those conversations and really puts the employee at the center of it.
The development plan experience is highly intuitive. It’s structured around two steps: know yourself, which is a self reflection exercise designed to help you understand your strengths, motivators and capture your longer term career aspirations; and build your plan, a goal-setting exercise that helps the employee turn the output of that self reflection into specific, actionable goals for real growth. Instead of having an employee create a development plan and then forget about it, the platform captures it in a place that allows them to come back to it frequently and it serves as an anchor for ongoing development conversations.
I can see how this is so helpful for employees, but also for managers. When an organization takes the time to understand an employee’s motivators at work, they’re better able to align the employee’s needs with the organization’s needs.
The first thing it does is ask the employee how they’re feeling about their development right now. Culture Amp has a deep understanding of survey data, and knows that a lot of employees may not have a clear sense of their own development goals or what knowledge they need to develop. The next step is to ask about the employee’s motivators at work, which is something that’s often overlooked in the process of creating a development plan, but really critical to having an effective one.
Then it shifts from motivators to strengths and allows the employee to select their top five strongest work skills. There is a skills list built-in that is based on research around the characteristics of high-performing employees, structured around core skills and core leadership skills. I love that employees can add in skills based on the organization’s own needs too.
There are built-in prompts and tips from Culture Amp’s people scientists to support the employee as they move through the process. Once they have selected motivators and skills, there is a prompt that encourages them to pause and reflect on what they have learned so far, which sets them up for the final step of the self-reflection process and turn to the future. Develop asks where they would like to be in a few years’ time, how clear they are on where they want to be and adapts their development plan based on the responses.
I love how intuitive this process is. It doesn’t feel like making a professional or personal development plan; it feels like just answering some questions and I think employees will really engage with this. It’s so easy to use, but because of the way it’s structured it gives so much clarity and thought to development so that employees can get a better understanding of where they are now and where they want to be – even if they don’t think they are 100 percent clear on it.
Continuous Development Plans That Support Employee Growth
Everything the employee has done through this point is the basis for a continuous development plan. The platform empowers the employee to convert the self-reflection inputs into specific development goals, which ensure that the employee is able to make progress over time. This can be updated and changed as often as they like; Culture Amp provides structure around the specific skills and competencies employees need to achieve their objectives. For example, rather than just asking “what do you need to develop,” each employee has a dashboard with the same set of skills they saw when they selected their strengths and allows them to select the skills they would like to develop.
Each section has advice from Culture Amp people scientists built in. I think this part is just brilliant because even highly experienced people can get stuck on a development plan, and if a plan is too vague it can be almost impossible to take meaningful action. The specificity of the question prompts and choices really guide the employee through the process and it’s sort of like a fun quiz about yourself that turns into a plan for growth.
Once the employee creates a goal within a growth area with a specific title, they can add success measures, which are milestones that help them measure their progress so they know they are moving in the right direction. This is where we really get a sense of progress and continuous development along with the previously mentioned three Es of employee development: Experience, exposure and education.
The platform surveys people at different points to ask how they are feeling about their development goals, if they understand the skills they need to develop, and if they see a motivating future at the company. This creates a feedback loop that allows us to measure progress and see where we need to offer more support.
The last step is to finish and share the plan with the employee’s manager, who then gets a summary of the output in a development plan with goals, growth areas, plan objectives and the employee’s long-term vision of the future. It gives both employee and manager a chance to finesse the plan together and this is what becomes the anchor of development conversations. The manager also has coaching prompts that are shared with them so that they are able to talk about it during regular check-ins (and they’re learning more too). The employee can update progress on specific success measures that are also visible to their manager.
Robust Reporting That Closes the Loop Between Development and Performance
The aggregate view for the manager allows them to see each employee’s development plan and the status of their plans. There is also an organization-wide reporting view so we can see how people are engaging with the development planning process. It’s great to be able to have this kind of data that we can slice and dice to help us understand what areas of development we should be focusing on and how it all fits into the organizational goals of the company.
Much of this information has previously been invisible to HR leaders, hidden away in Confluence or Google Docs, but Develop provides the interface that allows us to make sense of not only participation but of our employees’ development ambitions.
Simply knowing the skills and ambitions of employees allows talent teams to look internally to find the right match for open roles, and building a talent pool within your existing workforce is something that a lot of organizations are focused on right now. Because the market is so chaotic, we have people leaving companies in droves and some companies that are experiencing layoffs. By being prepared to fill roles internally, that internal mobility can also be a way to have the skilled talent we need for the future and avoid losing the valuable talent we have.
Culture Amp has already created a technology platform that goes beyond traditional employee surveys (you can see my 2019 review here: Review: Culture Amp Helps Solve the Greatest Workplace Mysteries with Data), and I’m just as impressed with the addition of Develop. Develop connects to the rest of the Culture Amp platform, supercharging their engagement and performance management products. Watch a demo of Develop here.
About Culture Amp
Culture Amp revolutionizes how over 25 million employees across 5,000+ companies create a better world of work. As the global platform leader for employee experience, Culture Amp empowers companies of all sizes and industries to transform employee engagement, develop high-performing teams, and retain talent via cutting-edge research, powerful technology, and the largest employee dataset in the world. The most innovative companies across the globe, such as Salesforce, Unilever, PwC, KIND, SoulCycle, and BigCommerce depend on Culture Amp everyday.
Culture Amp is backed by 11 years of innovation, leading venture capital funds, and offices in the U.S, U.K, and Australia. Culture Amp is recognized as one of the world’s top private cloud companies by Forbes and one of the most innovative workplace companies by Fast Company.
Learn more about how Culture Amp can help you create a better world of work at cultureamp.com.
FTC Disclosure: We received compensation for mentioning and reviewing the product listed above as part of one of the services we offer our clients. Regardless, we only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. We are disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission 16 CFR, Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.