Get Growth Out Of Today’s Casual Corporate Culture

In a recent interview, Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff says that creating a “soft” corporate culture for his booming real-estate search engine was always the goal–a more collaborative and embracing culture that encourages success, but doesn’t much care about keeping a laser focus on competitors. “I left investment banking after a few years because it was an awful lifestyle,” Rascoff asserts. The pace of Wall Street is not what he wants for himself or his employees at the fast-growing, multi-billion-dollar company.

Along with the focus on personal growth and community, professional growth and learning and development opportunities are charging ahead as valued tools for increasing employee happiness. Is it worth it? Absolutely. Professional growth opportunities are not just a “nice to have,” they are critical factors in attracting and retaining star players. In fact, many employees would consider leaving their current employer if they could no longer grow their professional skill set. And did we mention that happy employees are 12% more productive?

What Does Today’s More Casual Corporate Culture Look Like?

All you have to do is look at the header on Zillow’s Our Culture page: “At Zillow we know how to have a good time.” From block parties to ugly holiday sweaters to Halloween pumpkins and Tough Mudder challenges, this crew is dedicated to fun at work, and it’s all laid out for you to see. Consider it a rallying cry for the new “soft” corporate culture. According to their website and their CEO, Zillow is brimming with creative, travel-hardy, outdoor-adventuring team players who love a good work-life balance.

And Zillow’s not alone in this.

Outdoor gear retailer REI just announced that they are closing for Black Friday, the largest and most frenzied shopping day of the year, so employees can enjoy family, friends, and the great outdoors–paid. It’s called the #OptOutside campaign. Netflix’s culture manifesto, “freedom with responsibility,” is one of the most popular documents on the internet at 12 million-plus views. Everyone wants to copy it. A Business Insider poll rates National Instruments as one of the 25 best places to work (Twitter was #1) because, as an employee states, “The culture is one-of-a-kind and you can be creative in how you do your job. They encourage personal growth.” And the beat goes on.

But how are companies encouraging personal growth while also fostering professional growth? How do you manage a healthy, happy workforce with the increasingly expected work-life balance, all while still ensuring that employees have the tools they need to meet deadlines, quotas, and goals?

Let’s get specific.

Does a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policy work?

Absolutely. Sales enablement and learning content that are optimized for the device that employees use most increases access to a more personalized learning and development experience. A 2015 Gallup poll tells us that most smartphone users check their phone at least hourly. Why not take advantage of this and give them access to training tools right there?

How do you handle flex schedules?

Worried that your team won’t be on their game outside of the 9-5 work week? Don’t be. A 2015 study shows us that 59% of employees whose offices offer flexible schedules say free time is a key factor in productivity. Give your staff tools to be productive outside of the office, enabling them to focus on important learning content when they are best prepared to focus and absorb that information.

What about the remote office?

If they’re not here, how do we make sure they are using the learning content? By placing training and development tools on a mobile device, you’re not only enabling regular access to professional development, but you’re also able to track it: a true win-win for employee and employer. Employees who work from home or are often on the road can access the content as they need it, and you can collect valuable data on usage: gain a better understanding of what they are reading, what they are not, and how often they return to certain resources.

If you change up your training and L&D program, will your employees still retain the information?

They will, and better. Training sessions alone won’t do the trick–after one month, participants have been shown to only retain about 10% of training session content, and after one year it’s close to zero. Change up your learning content and curb the forgetting curve in your favor. Give your on-demand workforce access to just-in-time content at the point of need, provide a more engaging learning experience throughout, and see performance increase. After all, isn’t that the goal of employee development in this new, “soft” corporate culture?

The takeaway

Today’s more casual corporate culture doesn’t mean lack of motivation. Employees want to learn, grow, and develop their careers more than ever. Increasingly, companies that embrace flexible schedules, foster employee development opportunities, and provide the user-focused tools necessary for corporate learning are achieving a happier, more valuable workforce.