Vail Centre column: Smart companies invest in their employees |

Vail Centre column: Smart companies invest in their employees

Ross Iverson
Special to the Daily |

Companies talk about investing in their businesses all the time. Smart companies should also think about how they can invest in their employees — and not just by increasing retention rates. Research has shown that employees want to work for companies that foster and encourage their professional development. This is especially true for millennials, who are more likely than older generations to seek out career advancement opportunities before job satisfaction.

There are several ways companies can invest in their employee’s career growth:

• Make career advancement an ongoing conversation in the workplace.

One of the first things companies can do to implement a workplace culture focused on development is to encourage employees to have open conversations about their goals, strengths, weaknesses and skill sets. Instead of only asking employees about their career insights during an annual review, companies should let their staff know that it’s OK to talk about wanting to move up the ladder or gain more responsibility in their current position.

• Expand training programs to include career development.

Most companies have training programs for new hires, but few of these programs include continuing education courses and development seminars designed for current employees and mid-level professionals. Some forward-thinking companies, including Apple, have made a serious investment in in-house education programs. While some businesses may not have the funds or resources to build their own career development programs, there are many ways companies can add or improve upon its current employee training offerings with motivational speakers or industry experts.

• Help employees climb the career lattice, not the corporate ladder.

The concept of the career lattice is that career advancement feels more like scaling a boulder or rock wall and less like taking a direct step up to the next higher-paying job or getting a promotion. In order to build the skills and talents necessary for long-lasting career success, employees need to focus on making lateral moves, which include acquiring more knowledge about their particular specialty, learning about new advancements in their field and working on becoming better, faster and more efficient at work.

• Encourage employees to pursue higher education courses or programs.

According to a recent study released by Destiny Solutions, only 9 percent of companies have an established partnership with a college or university to provide training and development. While more than 70 percent of employers feel their team members need to engage in continuous learning to keep up with their current job, few companies provide the necessary funds or resources for employees. Colleges and universities are starting to offer more short-term courses that target adult learners looking to gain more skills and business acumen in order to progress in their careers.

• Build a team of leaders within your own company.

Study after study has shown that millennials place a strong emphasis on engagement and want to feel valued at their jobs. In the near future, employees won’t want the company they work for to offer advancement opportunities, they’ll expect it. According to research conducted by Deloitte University Press, more than two-thirds of millennials feel that it’s management’s responsibility to provide them with accelerated growth opportunities.

Ross Iverson is the CEO of the Vail Centre and can be reached at The Vail Centre’s mission is to elevate careers, organizations and communities through education. Learn more at

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