Double exposure of map pin in cityscape and network connection.
ATD Blog

Make Your Company a Career Destination: Sprout Social’s Top L&D Strategies

Friday, July 8, 2022

The average American will change jobs about 12 times in their career, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. This means a person stays at their employer for about three years.

Consider these factors. It takes three to six months to onboard an employee. Then, once an employee decides they want to quit, they’re not invested in their work for those last three to six months on the job. This means that you only get a solid two years of work from that employee. They are more focused on a new role for career growth than staying in the same position for longer than a few years.

A study by ClearCompany reported that 94 percent of their respondents said they would stay at their current job if their organization invested in their career growth. And 48 percent of job seekers say gaining new skills is the top reason they want to look for a new opportunity.

Learning is no longer a nice-to-have option, it is a must-have to retain talent and keep your employees engaged.

Lydia O'Malley, learning and development manager at Sprout Social (a social media management platform), puts learning front and center in her organization. She wants to build a culture where people can thrive, professionally and personally.

“We care about helping people learn and grow, and we care very deeply about that,” she adds. “We strive to really support and strengthen our leaders to be exceptional because we know just how important that is.”

Organizations must realize career growth doesn’t start when the employee is asking for career guidance. It starts the moment they are hired and onboarded. Lydia breaks down:

  • What it means to have a holistic approach to attracting and retaining talent
  • How to build robust individual contributors and leadership development programs

Unleash your employees’ potential by encouraging their professional development and career paths.

What Does a Career Destination Mean?

A career destination looks different to everyone. It can be the type of role you want to achieve, the company you want to work at, or even the level of achievement you attain. Essentially, it’s the career path you want to shape and pursue.


The Secret to Attracting and Retaining Talent

Live and breathe company values. Company core values guide business, help individuals strive and thrive, create a cultural North Star, and provide a sense of security.Lydia shared that company values are key to attracting talent and retaining them at Sprout Social. The core values allow individuals to grow and work together. People can learn, better themselves professionally, and enjoy their day-to-day work because of how the company culture lives and breathes these core values:

  • Care deeply.
  • Embrace accountability.
  • Champion diversity, equity, and inclusion.
  • Promote open, authentic communication.
  • Seek simplicity.
  • Solve hard problems.
  • Celebrate change.

Company values don’t have to come from the executive level. At Sprout Social, they created a team of employees and built values everyone could get behind, motivating them to keep improving themselves.

“We want to provide people a place where they can do the best work they have ever done in their career, alongside amazing people. We think about career destinations, and we talk a lot about it at Sprout. And when we ask new team members ‘Why Sprout?’ they say the values that Sprout holds are amazing, and I just want to be a part of that culture.”

Be People Centric

Putting your people first not only makes for a more enjoyable work environment, but it also gives individuals opportunities to challenge themselves and feel comfortable to gain new skills.

“One of the ways we talk about learning and the employee experience at Sprout is how we talk about leadership. We talk about Sprout as a place to come to, to be led by, or to become an exceptional leader.”

The experience an employee has with their manager is crucial for retention. If one doesn’t have a strong manager, they are not going to enjoy their work or thrive in their long-term goals. So, managers must receive support to strengthen their skills to become exceptional leaders.


Talk About Holistic Development

A lot of companies talk about learning and development in the sense of job craft. But what differentiates Sprout Social’s L&D strategy is that they discuss how to develop employees as well-rounded human beings. Everyone needs to bring their whole selves to work, so it’s important to take the focus out of work and blend in personal and professional development.

Building the L&D Program: Growth-Oriented Leadership Development (GOLD)

“Coming into 2020, we had already been thinking about how can we strengthen our learning and development. Compound that with the fact that we have a pandemic that happened upon us in early 2020, we decided as a team to dig in and actually double down, triple down on the way that we supported our leaders. And so from that was born our GOLD, which is Growth-Oriented Leadership Development, our GOLD program,” shares Lydia.

Leadership development is often thought about in terms of those already in a leadership role and what they need to do for better strategic decisions. However, leadership happens at all levels, and Sprout Social’s take on building a career destination is to help all team members, from first-time managers to seasoned leaders, to evolve as people. And because different leadership levels require different training, Sprout built their GOLD program with these three types of development levels:

  • Ignite is the foundational level. This is meant for individuals who are either new to people management or who want to learn what people management is all about. It helps them build a strong foundation to someday be a manger. Of course, team members learn what the manager role looks like at Sprout. So, this bridges the gap between the foundation for leadership and the managing culture at Sprout Social.
  • Evolve is the next level of leadership. It’s for individuals who are a little more tenured in people management—think middle management. The focus of this program is taking all the great experiences that one has already gained while leading others—either within Sprout or from a prior role—and combining those skills with Sprout’s core values.
  • Amplify is the last level and is for the most senior leaders and executive team. This level is focused on company-wide strategy. It helps individuals think on the strategic level and teaches them to see how each decision they make impacts the business in different ways. It also coaches people in the direction Sprout Social is going and what kind of culture the team wants to set at the highest level.

The three levels of training help ground Sprout Social and think about leadership strategy. They help paint the picture of the career direction and skills needed to get from one level to the next. Regardless of if you are a manger, director, or vice president, they help you think about what you’re focused on and how to shape your career trajectory.

Final Thoughts on Building a Career Destination

If you build leadership development, it doesn’t stop at the three GOLD levels. Sprout Social offers company-wide ongoing training in a variety of areas to help people evolve. From personal financial wellness to diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging, Sprout Social creates a culture where learning is front and center to attract new employees and retain talent.

If you’re developing a business as a career destination, it’s important to put your people first. Ask them what they want. Live and breathe your company values, believe in developing employees professionally and personally, and constantly offer various ways to learn and achieve career aspirations. A career destination goes far beyond just a paycheck. Help your employees map out how they can grow and develop within the organization. If you set your people up for success, they will become unstoppable.

To learn more about how to make your company a career destination, watch our latest webinar with Sprout Social.

About the Author

Fara Rosenzweig is WorkRamp's Head of Content and brings over 20 years of content experience. Her love for storytelling has earned her an Emmy Award, and she's been featured in many publications. When not wordsmithing or talking about learning and development, you'll find her globe-trotting while logging miles for her next half marathon.

Be the first to comment
Sign In to Post a Comment
Sorry! Something went wrong on our end. Please try again later.