Posted: 16 Nov. 2021 10 min. read

Elevating the Workforce Experience: The Growth Relationship

How opportunities for professional growth and development enhance workforce experience

Deloitte's Workforce Experience by Design practice uses human-centered, equity-based design to understand workers like we do customers and design experience solutions that cultivate trust and loyalty. We define workforce experience as "the sum of a human’s lived experiences at work and how they feel about their organization" and believe there are eight key relationships that influence a worker's experience at an organization - two of which have been newly incorporated into our leading practice perspective. These elements include a worker's relationship with the work they dothe people they work withthe places they workthe technology they usethe organization they work for, their personal well-being, their sense of belonging, and the growth that delivers value to their career. A worker's sense of belonging and their growth are two new additions to highlight how organizations can foster diverse, equitable, and inclusive communities for the worker (belonging) and portable value beyond a worker's lived experiences (growth). 

In order to succeed in today’s competitive talent landscape, organizations must provide positive, differentiated, and sustainable workforce experiences. Although some might think of workforce experience as having to do primarily with material perks, flexible schedules, and innovative and exciting tools and technologies (indeed these are important), there are far more personal and fundamental aspects of workforce experience on which companies must be prepared to deliver. These include personal and professional growth, meaningful work, individual and organizational goals, and mission, and genuine interpersonal connection. Given the tremendous business benefits that these experiences can bring, it is time for organizations to double down on their commitments to professional growth and development.

This article will focus on the seventh of the core relationship attributes for elevating the workforce experience: Growth.

What is growth in the workplace, and what contributes to it?

Broadly speaking, growth in the workplace refers to work aligning with personal goals and development of the worker,1 and the ability of organizations to meet the needs of their workers’ personal and professional aspirations.2  

In the workforce experience context, growth has to do with a wide variety of personal and professional enrichment opportunities to which the workforce might be given access. Some of these can be explicitly job- or work-related, such as rotational programs, technical skills training, and seminars. Other work-related opportunities might focus on personal development, such as serving as a team leader, mentor, personnel manager, product or service developer, or being promoted to a more senior role. These kinds of opportunities allow members of the workforce to grow as leaders and as colleagues and also allow them to feel an increased sense of ownership over their work and connection to their organization.

Growth opportunities that are offered outside the office can be as important as those offered within it. Company-sponsored social and networking events, mentorship, apprenticeship, and individualized coaching arrangements, as well as volunteer opportunities can help members of the workforce feel closer to each other and to the company for which they work by fostering connections among individuals who may not have interacted otherwise. These opportunities can also provide additional sources of meaning and enjoyment for people’s work.3

How can opportunities for professional growth enhance the workforce experience?

Career development and potential for growth are quickly becoming the foundation of effective workforce strategy.4 Organizations that commit to workforce growth enjoy competitive advantages, gaining improved business outcomes and increased adaptability.5 Organizations that place an emphasis on growth opportunities are able to build dynamic, diverse, and more deployable talent pools filled with workers who are highly skilled and versatile. Importantly, these companies also recognize the significance of empowering individuals to achieve their goals and aspirations—high-performing organizations are 37 times more likely to help their workers achieve their long-term career goals.6

For increasing numbers of workers, professional growth and development opportunities are what inspire them to choose (and remain at) certain jobs and certain organizations over others. Because of this, it is important for companies to listen to employee feedback regarding growth opportunities and offer continuous and dynamic enrichment in a variety of capacities. With a culture oriented toward personal, professional, and organizational growth, companies and their workers can better align their goals and values, and workers can feel encouraged to explore new challenges and improve themselves and their work.8

Using human-centered design to increase growth potential for the workforce

It is one thing to understand the value of growth and development and to imagine ways in which an organization might create these kinds of opportunities for its workers. It is another thing entirely, however, to implement those programs effectively. Deloitte’s Workforce Experience by Design practice uses human-centered design thinking, combined with our market and workforce insights, to design and implement solutions that significantly and sustainably improve organizations’ workforce experiences.9 Organizations can use human-centered design to create powerful opportunities to satisfy workers’ need for growth by taking the following steps:

  1. Frame the challenge—Organizations must take the steps necessary to understand how growth opportunities will help improve their workforce experience. Are employees looking for new technical skills? Do they want more responsibility and leadership opportunities? Understanding the growth that employees seek will help companies facilitate that growth at work in a way that elevates the workforce experience.
  2. Get to know the workforce—In order to design growth opportunities at work using human-centered approaches, companies must understand their employees at least as well as they understand their customers. This means using innovative data-gathering approaches aside from conventional surveys and other quantitative methods. Organizations should conduct interviews, focus groups, and other information-gathering protocols to deeply understand the kinds of growth workers seek, workers’ broader goals and aspirations, and how the company can best facilitate the growth professionals desire and help workers achieve those goals.
  3. Analyze and synthesize the data—Findings from deep data collection methodologies can provide robust findings and insights, which can, in turn, be used to point to actionable opportunities both in the short term and long term.
  4. Cocreate the solutions—Guided by concrete data insights, organizations should consider and prioritize the most impactful areas in which the workforce experience could be improved. Perhaps internal research revealed certain interests among workers related to specific growth opportunities or development activities. These insights should then inform design principles that are used when creating and implementing high-impact programs and initiatives. Importantly, however, this process must be one of co-creation—ideas must be prototyped, validated, tested, and piloted, by the workers whose input was sought from the very beginning.
  5. Implement—Once primary data collection, program development, and testing have been completed (all with heavy workforce input), companies must be prepared to implement the programs they have designed. Implementation is an organization’s opportunity to live up to its promises to employees—a chance to show them that they have been listened to and that their employer is committed to improving their experience at work.          

In summary, the importance of providing workers with opportunities to grow and develop through their careers cannot be overstated. Professional growth is an essential part of the workforce experience. It allows workers to develop new skills as well as new connections, and it helps bring new meaning to people’s working lives, in addition to bringing new meaning to work. By demonstrating a commitment to employee growth, organizations can better align their missions and goals with those of their employees—this improves outcomes for workers, customers, and the business alike.

Authors

  • Colleen Bordeaux is a Senior Manager in Deloitte Consulting LLP’s Human Capital practice, where she co-leads Deloitte's Workforce Experience by Design practice, a strategic collaboration between the firm’s Customer & Marketing and Human Capital offering portfolios.
  • Denise Moulton is a VP of Talent Acquisition Research at Deloitte Consulting LLP. She focuses on identifying leading practices and trends that drive higher business impact, enabling organizations to optimize their people and thrive through disruption. 
  • Betsy Grace is a Senior Consultant in Deloitte Consulting LLP’s Human Capital practice, where she helps clients enhance their workforce experience by getting to the heart of talent challenges.
  • Seth Stancroff is a Consultant in Deloitte Consulting LLP’s Human Capital practice. He is interested in helping clients design and implements programs to elevate their workforce experiences.

References

1https://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/blog/human-capital-blog/2021/the-value-of-meaningful-work-to-workers.html

2https://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/blog/human-capital-blog/2020/workforce-experience-well-being.html

3https://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/blog/human-capital-blog/2021/predictions-career.html

4https://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/blog/human-capital-blog/2021/predictions-career.html

5https://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/blog/human-capital-blog/2021/predictions-career.html

6https://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/blog/human-capital-blog/2021/predictions-career.html

7 https://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/insights/focus/human-capital-trends.html

8https://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/blog/human-capital-blog/2020/workforce-experience-well-being.html

9Designing the workforce experience with the human at the center

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Denise Moulton

Denise Moulton

VP | Human Resources and Talent Research

Denise leads human resources and talent research for Deloitte. Specializing in talent acquisition, talent management, HR administration, and field operations, Denise is also skilled at driving reinvention across onboarding programs, employment branding initiatives, and recruitment management. Her 19 years of experience include talent program development, cross-functional campus recruitment, and recruitment ambassador programs. Denise holds a bachelor of arts in English, and has completed coursework toward a master’s in labor relations and human resources from the University of Rhode Island.