Worked for Her: Our ‘jungle-gym’ approach retained top talent

Imagine if you had a network of women leaders all across the country that you could tap anytime you wanted to find out what’s working for them. With our exclusive feature, Worked for Her, you can. In our most recent installment, Annette Alexander, VP of HR in Austin, TX, shares how her company shifted its approach to employee retention. 

There weren’t a lot of management positions opening up at our company. As a result, some employees felt like there wasn’t any room to grow.

This wasn’t good for employee morale or retention.

So we needed to find a way to show employees that even if they couldn’t immediately move into management, they could still grow.

Our solution: Rather than find avenues for vertical growth, we created a system that fostered horizontal growth.

Ditched the ‘ladder’

We changed the philosophy of “career ladders” and adopted the philosophy of “career jungle gyms.”

It says growth isn’t just about moving up, but also out – by adding skills within the organization.

We set up a system in which employees could come to their supervisors and talk about where they wanted to go with their careers.

From there, the supervisors and employees work with HR and other managers to find roles or assignments that help
employees gain new skills and advance their career goals.

Example: If a person wanted to move into HR, we may arrange for him or her to take on a few basic HR tasks.

Now people see there’s a lot of internal support to develop their skills and grow within the company, which has improved morale and retention.

(Annette Alexander, VP of HR, Austin, TX)