17 Companies with a Growth-Focused Culture

Like individuals, companies can have either a fixed or growth mindset. Built In connected with 17 team members from growth-minded companies.

Written by Mia Goulart
Published on Jun. 12, 2024
17 Companies with a Growth-Focused Culture
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Employees who work for companies with a growth mindset are 34 percent more likely to feel a strong sense of ownership and commitment to their company, according to the research of renowned American psychologist Carol Dweck. 

Surprising or not, this statistic is quickly gaining attention. 

Whether it’s opportunities to move up or chances to build new skills in a collaborative setting, growth can mean many different things, yet its purpose is universal: to empower employees and keep them engaged. 

Recently, Built In asked employees to describe how their company cultivates a growth-focused culture, what impact this has had on their workplace experience and the advice they would give to other employers interested in bolstering their growth opportunities. 

 

 

Magna employees hosting a panel. 
Magna International 

 

 

Sarah Myers
Manager, Innovation Marketing • Magna International

Magna International is a mobility company that innovates like a startup and thinks like a technology company.

What are some of the growth opportunities available to you and your colleagues? 

My job is to strategize, plan and execute the corporate innovation programs for Magna’s employees around the globe. We strive to bring innovation to the forefront of our business and encourage employees to embrace our core values to “think big,” “never settle,” “take responsibility” and “be collaborative.” We recognize and celebrate our big thinkers across the company by offering various innovation challenges through our official Ideation Hub platform. 
 

“We recognize and celebrate our big thinkers across the company by offering various innovation challenges through our official Ideation Hub platform.” 

 

Magna’s Ideation Hub is where Magna employees can share ideas for business-related challenges, learn and explore innovative techniques and tools and engage and collaborate with other submitters. Each challenge hosted on the platform is tailored to our individual groups’ or functions’ business needs featuring problem-solving statements. 

Through my experience with these programs and the Hub, we continually engage employees to creatively collaborate, showcase their talent and drive new innovative ideas that can further the company’s growth — I’m glad to be a part of a team and organization that celebrates professional growth and entrepreneurship.

 

How does a focus on growth boost morale? 

Each year, we plan and host a global internal Employee Innovation Challenge, giving our employees the opportunity to submit an innovative idea related to business criteria that is set by our executive leadership. 

This year we had over 550 submissions from around the globe, and five finalist teams were selected and asked to compete at our Tech Tank event, where they each had the chance to bring their idea forward to a hand-selected group of judges for the chance to receive monetary prizes and additional investment from the company. We had thousands from around the globe tune in to watch these individual teams compete to showcase their brilliant ideas. 

The EIC is a key example of how we bring forward big thinkers at the company, and reward and empower those individuals and teams who go above and beyond. This is proof that the best ideas happen when innovation and creativity intersect to solve real challenges. 

The EIC and other challenges we host are an opportunity for our employees to create real-world innovations that can be funded and introduced into Magna’s future as we continue to create a better world of mobility, responsibly.

 

From an employee perspective, what advice would you give to employers interested in bolstering their growth opportunities?

Discover, learn and share their innovative ideas with each other and the rest of the company. Whether you’re an executive, mid-level manager or manufacturing associate, a great idea can come from anyone. It can be as simple as a new way to bring a more sustainable solution to your own office or a new product or process that can be brought to a customer or other group within the organization. The idea is to keep discovering, keep pushing yourself and keep collaborating with your team and other teams.

There will be challenges and opportunities that you don’t win, and that’s OK. There are many challenges and contests I have entered where I wonder why I didn’t “succeed,” but what matters is not winning or losing, but continuing to pursue opportunities and creating growth for yourself. The more you put yourself out there and the more times you fail, the more you learn from those experiences and grow from them. Learning and growing is all part of the journey, and success is measured by the opportunities you take. It only takes you to get started.

 

 

Rapid7 team members sitting on leather office chairs looking at a computer.
Rapid7

 

 

Alex Page
Vice President, Global Channel Sales • Rapid7

Rapid7 is on a mission to create a secure digital world for customers and their communities.

 

What are some of the growth opportunities available to you and your colleagues? 

Rapid7 has built a business around developing and growing our people. There is evidence across the company of people who have excelled in their roles and gone on to take new roles to stretch themselves. This includes both vertical promotions or more “diagonal” moves to broaden their experience. 

Rapid7 has built an environment that gives employees the career opportunity of a lifetime. To me, that means routinely giving your people the opportunity to try something new, with a culture of learning and supporting each other. It’s not just one thing that contributes to growth — it’s our entire culture that is rooted in finding new opportunities, empowering people to determine what growth looks like for them and then giving them resources to achieve that through coaching, feedback and ongoing development. 

I’ve directly benefited from this many times over. Joining Rapid7 as a sales leader, I’ve had the opportunity to build teams to take our XDR and MDR solutions to market. I’ve led large sales organizations, and I currently lead and help build our global partner ecosystem. It’s difficult to comprehend how much I’ve grown in my 10 years at Rapid7.

 

How does a focus on growth boost morale? 

In order to have growth boost morale over an extended period of time, you need the right mindset. Of course success and growth are fun, but growth also inherently breaks things; a company can no longer operate the way it used to after periods of sustained growth. In order to boost morale, I’m a big fan of the mantra that “with growth, you get problems for free.” When teams expect problems to arise as a positive consequence of growth — rather than being frustrated or surprised when things that used to work, break — it creates a culture for sustained excellence because you’re actively looking to evolve and change. 

 

“When teams expect problems to arise as a positive consequence of growth, it creates a culture for sustained excellence because you’re actively looking to evolve and change.”


A great example of this would be our leadership development program for people who are preparing to move into senior leadership positions. This six-month program includes a capstone project in which teams rally together around a growth-related challenge and are empowered to come up with a solution we could implement to help scale us to the next phase of our journey. By doing this, participants get a great sense for how you drive cross-functional teaming and change at true scale.

 

From an employee perspective, what advice would you give to employers interested in bolstering their growth opportunities? What are some initiatives that either work well or fall flat?

Educate leaders and hiring managers on how to evaluate candidates on soft skills and behaviors rather than relevant experience. Determining whether someone will be successful in a role doesn’t always mean they have to have done the same job before. Things like curiosity and a growth mindset are indicators that should be part of the decision. 

For example, Rapid7 is a cybersecurity company. If I overindexed on experience working for a cybersecurity company, I would automatically lose out on some really great candidates. At Rapid7, we train people how to thrive in the cybersecurity industry. I would rather have someone with insatiable curiosity, grit and a team-first mentality whom I needed to teach cybersecurity, than someone with loads of relevant experience who lacks any one of those innate characteristics.

This logic also applies to internal promotions. We spend so much time cultivating great talent within our organization, and looking internally first as part of the kickoff process for a new role allows us to prioritize and identify existing talent who are thriving within our company and ready for the next step.

 

 

Celonis team posing for photo on a rooftop.
Celonis

 

 

Liz Kalnin
Learning and Development Manager • Celonis

Celonis enables customers to optimize their business processes.

 

What are some of the growth opportunities available to you and your colleagues? 

We prioritize growing Celonauts in many ways. Our Leading@Celonis portfolio includes leadership programs that support culture building and bring our leadership principles to life. These programs foster self-aware leaders who grow and connect with others to be impactful within their teams. Recently, we extended this to mentoring and peer coaching, allowing experienced leaders to mentor aspiring people leaders, fostering a culture of paying it forward. 

After piloting the opportunities marketplace, we are rolling it out, starting with the Celonis Leadership Forum. This initiative lets Celonauts engage in projects and gig work outside their roles, building skills for growth areas and fostering a skills-based organization. For example, four Celonauts trained as Celonis Leadership Principles facilitators through the marketplace. This has been key to our culture of continuous development.

We also provide career paths and growth opportunities through our LXP Degreed, LinkedIn Learning and technical libraries, offering personalized and flexible learning. Additionally, language learning and live virtual courses support professional development.

 

How does a focus on growth boost morale? 

Focusing on growth boosts morale by fostering greater employee engagement and retention, placing Celoanuts at the center of our people and culture strategy. It demonstrates our commitment to a culture of continuous learning, a key pillar of our unique employee value proposition.

One illustrative example is our learning challenge initiatives. These align with our leadership principle of “sustain performance and foster continuous and collaborative learning.” Offered monthly and globally, these challenges cover critical skill-based topics that are curated into bite-sized, easy-to-consume formats. This approach supports immediate application of new knowledge and skills, making learning accessible and engaging for all employees.

Another example is the upcoming Learning Week for the product team in June. This initiative is designed to promote collaborative learning and bring people together, empowering employees within the product organization. By prioritizing collective learning, we not only enhance individual growth but strengthen team cohesion and morale, driving overall organizational success.
 

“By prioritizing collective learning, we not only enhance individual growth but strengthen team cohesion and morale.”

 

From an employee perspective, what advice would you give to employers interested in bolstering their growth opportunities?

Focus on personalized, curated learning that builds important skills aligned with the business strategy and future needs. We recently launched a Coaching Skills Pathway and Peer Coaching program, connecting leaders while developing key leadership skills.

Linking growth to the employee experience — and key people initiatives like the performance cycle and strategic organizational needs — also works well. Effective learning requires time, space and leader support. Leaders must be aligned with and actively support growth opportunities for their team members to see positive impacts. When leaders champion these efforts, the results are remarkable.

Diverse representation and champions are crucial to spreading learning across the organization. At Celonis, our learning council represents various departmental needs and priorities, ensuring all voices are heard in our learning and leadership initiatives. This approach fosters a culture of continual learning and inclusivity, driving individual and organizational growth.
 

 

 

Kaylen Williams-Henry
Senior Product Manager • Workiva

Workiva is the world’s leading cloud platform for simplifying regulatory, financial and operational reporting.

 

What are some of the growth opportunities available to you and your colleagues? 

From the very beginning, the tech team leadership at Workiva has made learning and growth a priority. They brought in renowned product leaders such as Marty Cagan, Jeff Patton and many others throughout the years. By leveraging the expertise of these leaders, the tech team has the opportunity to continually enhance their skills and expand their knowledge base. 

In addition to internal trainings, colleagues at Workiva are given the chance to attend industry-related conferences that provide a platform for networking, knowledge sharing and staying updated on the latest trends and innovations in the tech industry. Most recently, I had the opportunity to attend the Women in Product conference, which offered valuable insights and perspectives on product development and leadership. 

 

“In addition to internal trainings, colleagues at Workiva are given the chance to attend industry-related conferences that provide a platform for networking, knowledge sharing and staying updated on the latest trends and innovations.”

 

Workiva also hosts an internal tech team conference called LINK. This annual conference brings together the entire team in one location, providing a unique opportunity for collaboration and learning through self-guided projects of interest, facilitating learning, relationship building and personal and professional growth.

 

How does a focus on growth boost morale? 

Working at a company that focuses on the growth of their people boosts morale because it shows employees that the company cares about their personal and professional development. Workiva's investment in LINK, the annual tech team conference, brings the team together every year to empower them to try new things, experiment with ideas that might not be on the roadmap and have fun while doing it. The result is a renewed sense of excitement and optimism for the future.

 

From an employee perspective, what advice would you give to employers interested in bolstering their growth opportunities?

Take the time to look for ways to help your team members grow. With all of the day-to-day priorities and work to be done, it is easy to lose focus on growth and learning. It doesn't mean you have to do all the work to set up these activities. 

If you’re not in a position to bring in industry leaders for trainings or host your own conference, encourage your people to do their research and be their own advocate. Find a conference or other learning opportunity that interests them. Help facilitate mentor relationships. Give them a budget for professional development-related books. It doesn't have to cost a lot of money — the important thing is making the effort and showing that you care and are invested in their future.

 

 

 

Brie Carranza
Staff Support Engineer  • GitLab

GitLab is an open core software company that develops a comprehensive DevSecOps Platform used by more than 100,000 organizations. 

 

What are some of the growth opportunities available to you and your colleagues? 

GitLab has provided me with a wealth of growth opportunities. During my time at GitLab, my path to promotion has been consistently encouraged, celebrated and supported. I joined as an intermediate support engineer and have since been promoted to senior support engineer and then staff support engineer. I’ve been incredibly fortunate to explore an interim support engineer manager role. 

Team members collaborate on promotions because we believe in seeing each other succeed. I enjoyed the opportunity to deliver a talk that helps to highlight the excellence and expertise of the GitLab Support team across the industry. Hackathons and opportunities to contribute meaningfully at GitLab abound.
 

“We believe in seeing each other succeed.”

 

How does a focus on growth boost morale? 

My growth is tied to the company’s growth. I can help to influence GitLab’s success, and that makes me feel excited and empowered. I am making a difference! 

Opportunities for growth mean that I can find the right way for me to contribute to the team. Focusing on growth means that team members can grow within GitLab and influence the organization from many different perspectives. The increase in retention that follows contributes to positive morale and helps to spread ideas across the company and promotes strong bonds between team members.

 

From an employee perspective, what advice would you give to employers interested in bolstering their growth opportunities? Recognize that team members are unique: get to know their individual strengths and give them opportunities that let them grow into better engineers and leaders. One of the most rewarding things about my four years at GitLab is how I have been able to tackle big problems that are the right size of challenge for me. A challenge that’s the right size should feel a little bit scary. 

I appreciate how much leadership believes in me and that’s led to me doing some of the very best work of my professional career right here, right now — at GitLab. Trust your team to do the right thing. Empower them to solve the right problems and make sure they are set up for success.

 

 

 

Alex Lewin
Team Lead, Engineering • FareHarbor

FareHarbor creates powerful tools that enable its travel-related clients to operate and grow. 

 

What are some of the growth opportunities available to you and your colleagues? 

To an outside observer, our Americas-based engineering team may look much the same as it did a few years ago. Aside from new hires, there have been only small changes to our organizational chart. But in the time I’ve been here, I’ve witnessed a lot of people on the team, including myself, develop many skills — technical and otherwise.

One of FareHarbor’s core values is “own it.” One of the manifestations of this value is that our individual contributor engineers are empowered to make product decisions to coordinate with other stakeholders, meet and coordinate with engineers from partner companies and more. They develop skills that are not always emphasized for engineers: written and verbal communication, collaboration, an ability to wear many hats and to shift perspectives from engineer to product designer to end-user.

Growth opportunities don’t always look like promotions or org chart changes. If you asked my engineering colleagues whether they had experienced meaningful growth over the course of the last few years, I’m pretty sure they would all say yes, even if their title hasn’t changed.

 

How does a focus on growth boost morale? 

Some people are happy doing the same things every day at work. Maybe they really enjoy doing these particular things, maybe they like routine or maybe their passions lie outside of work. Engineers tend not to be wired this way. They tend to be resourceful, diligent and inquisitive; they can also be restless, distractible, quick to boredom and potentially quick to look for the next best thing, especially earlier in their careers. A focus on growth is a good way to help keep everyone engaged, productive and happy.

It is reasonable for people to want to develop new skills. If they feel like they are gaining skills that will serve them later on, they are more likely to stay. If they feel like they are learning nothing, or learning things that would be useless elsewhere, then they may choose to go somewhere with more opportunity, for fear of plateauing or getting stuck in a role that they don’t find satisfying.

Several weeks ago we had an all-company hackathon. People from all corners of the organization worked with other people they might not have normally. It gave all of us an appreciation for other people's skills and spurred interest in acquiring some of them.

Lewin’s Advice To Employers Interested in Bolstering Growth

  1. Discuss growth with your employees:
  • Discover their goals and work with them in good faith to help them achieve these, even if it may take them outside of your organization.
  • Do not underestimate the value of a strong “alumni network.”
  1. Hackathons:
  • They must be structured, but not so structured that “wacky” ideas get nixed.
  • They must be fun, but also generate meaningful results.
  • Guide the composition of teams:
    • Ensure teams who need engineers get engineers.
    • Ensure complementary skill sets within teams.
  1. Promote and hire internally across functions:
  • Promote internally, but also consider internal hires across functions.
  • Recognize that some of the best engineers and product managers can come from other parts of the organization.
  • Internal hires have product and organizational knowledge that no outside hire could possibly have.
  • Career growth doesn’t always look like promotions — often it is finding the best fit for people's capabilities.


 


 

Munchkin employees show a group of kids a high-tech printer in their office. The wall mural in the background reads, “We are on a mission to be the most loved lifestyle brand in the world.”
Munchkin, Inc.

 

Alyssa O'halloran
Senior Packaging Engineer • Munchkin, Inc.

WHY Brands Inc., a parent company of Munchkin and Curio Home Goods, focuses on creating, incubating and growing the next generation of consumer lifestyle brands. 

 

What are some of the growth opportunities available to you and your colleagues? 

Growth at WHY Brands, Munchkin’s parent company, begins on day one with a comprehensive 90-day orientation program. Managers guide new hires on company values, make introductions and set initial goals. Employees are provided with resources like LinkedIn Learning and encouraged to develop skills like public speaking — which prepared me to present comfortably in front of large teams and executives. 

This program demonstrates the company’s commitment to developing people and set the stage for goal-oriented career growth. 

The company also holds an annual awards ceremony honoring outstanding employees at all levels, from leadership to warehouse workers. I’ve been honored to receive awards that motivate me to further invest in the company. 

At annual reviews, goal setting and performance assessment are based on company values like innovation. Employees’ self assessments are reviewed by multiple managers, ensuring recognition for hard work. 

Additionally, I’ve represented the company at college programs, professional symposiums and volunteer work. I appreciate the company’s support, allowing me time away from work to attend and speak at these events.

 

How does a focus on growth boost morale? 

When companies invest in their employees, employees invest back into the company. Growth opportunities incentivize those who apply themselves and drive improvements. 
 

“When companies invest in their employees, employees invest back into the company.”

 

Starting at Munchkin as a recent graduate, I found myself in charge of the packaging department, overwhelmed but relying on intuition and seeking help when needed. This experience accelerated my growth, proving I could handle more responsibility than I realized. 

Recognizing my efforts, the company gave me an out-of-schedule promotion and, at my first annual review, a formal promotion. My second year continued positively, although I didn't expect another promotion. However, I learned at my review that WHY Brands recognized my long-term potential and promoted me again to senior packaging engineer. 

The company anticipated my growth, nurturing my potential early on, which gave me confidence in my career here, unlike the job-hopping tendencies among young professionals. Investing in employees’ success fosters loyalty and mutual growth.

 

From an employee perspective, what advice would you give to employers interested in bolstering their growth opportunities? What are some initiatives that either work well or fall flat?

I’ve felt most empowered when someone in a high leadership position directly expressed belief in me. I was once told from a leader several levels above me, “If I were in your position, I’d be unstoppable.” Those words made me feel in control of my future and confident that I could achieve more than I ever expected. 

Exceptional work should speak for itself, but if a company does not recognize and reward it, an employee may not see the value in putting in the effort. 

Additionally, I've been encouraged to be autonomous and self dependent. Positive feedback has been particularly empowering. Autonomy boosts an employee's confidence in their capabilities and provides a greater sense of purpose and responsibility. Special requests from managers who trust me to take on projects beyond my regular duties further motivate me to prove my dependability and help the company. 

Lastly, employees should be encouraged to take initiative. When someone is truly invested in their job, they will see opportunities to expand and improve upon their work. I’ve provided valuable work to my company through projects I initiated.

 

 

 

Rachel Tugender
Sales Director • OpenX Technologies

OpenX is an adtech company that drives optimal value for advertisers through high-scale marketplaces across all screens.

 

What are some of the growth opportunities available to you and your colleagues? 

At OpenX, growth opportunities are abundant and diverse, catering to a wide range of professional interests and career goals. We offer certification opportunities through various partners that are instrumental for those in our industry. 

From a seller’s lens, one notable program is MEDDICC, a rigorous training course focused on sales qualification methodology. MEDDICC is designed specifically for B2B enterprise sales organizations. This methodology helps ensure that our team is focusing on the right deals and strategies to win.

In addition to certifications, I have had the privilege to participate in OpenX’s Leadership Academy and ongoing training sessions.

 

How does a focus on growth boost morale? 

I’ve participated in several growth opportunities that have significantly enhanced my professional development. One standout experience was completing certifications for The Trade Desk and MEDDPICC, which have been extremely beneficial to my job, providing me with advanced skills and knowledge to navigate the complexities of sales qualification and digital advertising effectively.

The Leadership Academy has been another pivotal experience, equipping me with essential leadership skills and strategies and preparing me to take on more significant responsibilities within the company.

Our ongoing training sessions have also been invaluable. These sessions not only cover internal training specific to OpenX, but also provide broader industry insights. Topics like AI and cookie depreciation are particularly relevant today, helping us stay ahead of industry trends and challenges.

Additionally, the clear pathway to promotion has been a motivating factor. Working closely with management to identify growth areas and set clear career goals has provided me with a structured and supportive environment for advancement.

 

From an employee perspective, what advice would you give to employers interested in bolstering their growth opportunities? What are some initiatives that either work well or fall flat?

Create a structured and supportive environment for development. Start by identifying the specific skills and competencies needed for various roles within the organization. Then, offer targeted training programs and certifications that align with these needs.

It’s also crucial to provide clear pathways for career advancement. Employees should know what steps they need to take to reach the next level in their careers. Regular check-ins with management, personalized development plans and mentorship programs can help guide employees on their growth journey.

 

“Provide clear pathways for career advancement. Employees should know what steps they need to take to reach the next level in their careers.”

 

Encouraging cross-departmental collaboration and offering opportunities for employees to step out of their usual roles can also be beneficial. Team-building activities and special projects can foster innovation and help employees develop new skills. Creating a culture of continual feedback and reflection is essential.

 

 

 

Keith Kimmel
President of Property Operations • AIR Communities

AIR Communities is one of the country's largest owners and operators of multifamily housing, managing high-quality properties in most major markets.

 

What are some of the growth opportunities available to you and your colleagues? 

Over the last year, our talent team has built an outstanding professional development program called Sharpen the Edge, named after our industry-leading operating platform we call the AIR Edge. It’s a customized program that allows teammates to learn from some of the best leaders in our organization, with fireside chats, workshops and more. The content is served up in various formats, from bite-sized tips to in-depth meetings, allowing all team members within the organization the chance to learn. The majority of the content is both tailored to our industry and applicable to all areas in life, making the impact that much greater.

 

How does a focus on growth boost morale? 

When teammates feel valued, supported and empowered to grow their skills, they do incredible things. They have a more fulfilling experience at work, collaborate better as an organization and our customers enjoy a world-class experience with a team of people who care. It’s a win-win-win, and it shows in our strong teammate and resident retention.
 

“When teammates feel valued, supported and empowered to grow their skills, they do incredible things.”

 

From an employee perspective, what advice would you give to employers interested in bolstering their growth opportunities?

Remember that your team is your greatest asset, and it’s critical to invest in their success. Teammates who have opportunities to grow stay with a company longer, and that equates to better returns and better experiences for the customer.

 

 

 

Jana Hofmann
Global Director, People and Culture • Cin7

Cin7 is passionate about reducing the cost, time and effort of selling products.

 

What are some of the growth opportunities available to you and your colleagues? 

At Cin7, we empower our employees to grow their skills and careers. We offer career progression pathways through promotions and open positions and encourage self development and regular learning time. 

We understand that growth isn’t one-size-fits-all, so we tailor opportunities to individual needs, be it attending conferences, earning certifications, engaging in e-learning, webinars or speaker events, getting a mentor or joining a project team. We also provide job-shadowing opportunities that allow our employees to gain insights and experience in different areas of the business, supporting their growth and our succession planning.

Practical experience is most valuable. I’ve grown my skills by exploring industry trends, attending meetups and taking up mentoring opportunities. I then test new ideas and apply what I’ve learned. A supportive culture and a leader who trusts me allow me to always challenge myself and lead change to continuously improve our practices.

 

How does a focus on growth boost morale? 

A focus on growth and fostering a sense of mastery and continuous improvement significantly boosts morale, which enhances productivity and innovation. One of my favorite books is Daniel Pink’s Drive, where he describes mastery — defined as the desire to continually improve at something meaningful — as a crucial element of human motivation. We strive to create an environment that encourages challenging activities and provides psychological safety for employees to take risks and explore new ideas.

 

“We strive to create an environment that encourages challenging activities and provides psychological safety for employees to take risks and explore new ideas.”

 

Our mentorship program exemplifies this approach. It has received great feedback and is now in its second round, with many new participants and returning mentors and mentees. By promoting a growth mindset and a collaborative, supportive culture, we empower our employees to enhance their skills and inspire one another.

 

From an employee perspective, what advice would you give to employers interested in bolstering their growth opportunities? What are some initiatives that either work well or fall flat?

Initiatives that provide real, hands-on experiences tend to have the most significant impact. I believe in the power of on-the-job assignments and social learning as the most impactful growth tools. Mentoring and people leader networks are excellent for social learning. Setting up projects to allow cross-departmental participation or letting employees explore different roles is super effective. It’s a win-win for both employers and employees, creating effective growth pathways.

My advice is to invest time in truly understanding your talent and what drives them through regular talent reviews and career-development conversations. Build initiatives and development opportunities based on the insights and skills gaps identified.

Creating a culture that encourages employees to leave their comfort zones and lead change is essential. Your career philosophy and promotion principles should underpin this. Continuous learning is the currency of employee growth and satisfaction. By fostering an environment that supports this, employers can cultivate a dynamic and motivated workforce ready to drive the company’s success.

 

 

 

Jon Walder
VP People and Culture • Smartly

Smartly is an AI-powered adtech company transforming ad experiences for brands and their consumers. 

 

What are some of the growth opportunities available to you and your colleagues? 

We pride ourselves on being a high-mobility organization, which means we aim for 33 percent of the roles that become available to be filled by internal talent. This means we are able to be a growth-led employer where employees can go through various cycles. 

We do not believe in retention alone. It is an idle state where you are inadvertently suggesting the best you can do is hold on to an employee. Instead, through various development programs, stretch projects and an always-on approach to innovation, our intention is to provide a culture which inspires people to do their best work.

 

“Through various development programs, stretch projects and an always-on approach to innovation, our intention is to provide a culture which inspires people to do their best work.”

 

Outside of internal mobility, we provide a pretty broad learning and development agenda while also working with external speakers to come in and share their learning journeys. 

 

How does a focus on growth boost morale? 

We firmly believe that a high-performance growth-led approach was integral to our ability to reshape our whole go-to-market narrative as a company. The world of paid social and advertising has changed a great deal over the last 10 years. We needed to reimagine and renew our platform to connect better with our customers and transform the advertising experience. 

The collaboration and focus on the art of the possible was invigorating for the organization, resulting not only in an upgraded platform but better companywide engagement. It encouraged people to think differently and stretch themselves. That is what adopting a growth mindset as a company can do. It becomes your biggest weapon and enabler in driving positive change for your customers and your people.

 

From an employee perspective, what advice would you give to employers interested in bolstering their growth opportunities? What are some initiatives that either work well or fall flat?

Be authentic and work from a solid base. You won’t be able to fix everything overnight, but listening to your people and actioning things that make things better makes the culture real.

Initiatives that are grounded in this philosophy will work well. For instance, with our employee voice survey, we decided we were going to be more intentional about how we communicate company strategy — including the frequency, which has had a positive impact in the last six months.

With that, consistency is key and sometimes you have to stay the course. Employees won’t always respond the way you hoped the first time as they wait to see whether the changes are real. Celebrate progress, big or small, and be as inclusive as you can with this as it encourages people to continue to grow. 

Remember the benefit of growing and enabling your own people will often vastly exceed fixating on what you don’t have. Most companies have tremendous talent that wants to do well and make the next step up. We just have to create a culture where it is possible for them to realize their full potential.

 

 

 

Samantha Chavez
Partnership Associate • Elevate K-12

Elevate K-12 brings equity in education to all students and teachers, irrespective of zip code.

 

What are some of the growth opportunities available to you and your colleagues? 

Something I enjoy about Elevate K-12 is that, unlike at any other company I’ve worked for, I have a voice. The company, specifically our culture committee, has always been willing to listen and support an idea I’ve had to help boost the overall opportunities of the company. There is always the opportunity to learn from every member of the committee, and the opportunities that being a part of the committee has given me are endless. 

A specific opportunity that comes to mind is the Women’s History Month fireside chat. The opportunity to come to the table with a very basic idea and watch as it was lifted off of the ground was one of the most encouraging experiences I have ever had within my career. We were responsible for finding volunteers who would be willing to vulnerably sit in front of their peers and leaders while sharing their experiences being a woman in the workforce. 

The opportunity to be a part of the culture committee has uncovered a passion for company culture I didn’t know I had.

 

How does a focus on growth boost morale? 

When a company focuses on growth, the morale seamlessly grows. As an employee who is hungry to learn and grow, it is encouraging to know that my leaders are wanting the same thing and will help me achieve the next milestone. 

 

“When a company focuses on growth, the morale seamlessly grows.”

 

On the sales team at Elevate K-12, we have many opportunities to partake in bettering the business and increasing our skill set, which organically sets us up for further success and career growth. 

One initiative that is top of mind is our cadence committee. This is a group that meets weekly to dig into the way we are prospecting and how we are being intentional about our outreach, tracking data to ensure that, week over week, we are advancing or altering whatever is needed in order to be the most efficient with our time and resources. This group pulls in a lot of cross-functional folks who have different perspectives and skill sets and is a great example of how an opportunity helps bring people together and empowers employees. This committee has also allowed me the opportunity to work with folks from our marketing team and senior sales team, which has opened further opportunities for growth.

 

From an employee perspective, what advice would you give to employers interested in bolstering their growth opportunities?

Being willing to step outside of what you’ve always done is a hard step to make but so worth it. The next step would be to identify your passionate employees. Who loves working here? Who believes in what we have to offer? Who cares about their customers and goes out of their way to make anything possible? 

Once you have identified those employees, I would call them to action by asking them to take on an initiative, like mentoring a new hire. This would allow for that passionate employee to influence that new employee from day one. As that seed grows, continue those steps, and before you know it, you have a team full of passionate and excited employees who are hungry to get the job done. 

Additionally, lean into and appreciate those ride-or-die employees by ensuring you, their leader, are aware of what they want out of the role, and secondly, that they are being exposed to roles that they have identified as their next step. 

 

 

Photo of front desk at Zoro office.
Zoro

 

Michele Schaefer
Project Manager, Agile Delivery • Zoro

Zoro’s e-commerce website has everything businesses and consumers need to make their business go, at prices that make sense.

 

What are some of the growth opportunities available to you and your colleagues? 

I’ve been lucky enough to experience several different types of growth at Zoro, including upward promotions within the customer service and customer fulfillment teams and a complete career shift to project management within the technology organization. 

Zoro does a wide variety of things to help create growth opportunities. There are formal trainings for leaders, informational sessions hosted regularly by different teams, other teams that host open office hours regularly and councils you can volunteer to work on. Recorded weekly company meetings offer a chance to see highlights of work being done across the company. Some of these things are planned by HR and leadership; some have just evolved over time. 

There are also a lot of cross-functional teams that work on initiatives together. For me, being a stakeholder in a bigger Zoro initiative — and having a few trusted people encouraging me to take the time to dig in and learn — gave me the courage to try something new.

 

How does a focus on growth boost morale? 

Growing and learning keeps engagement going. Being encouraged to learn is equivalent to being encouraged to find exciting new ways to make a difference. It doesn’t have to be anything big and expensive. Recently, at a project management team meeting, we spent 20 minutes discussing an article that we read together. We left the meeting with a shared experience and new perspectives. Another thing I have seen more of recently is when people who attend bigger conferences or events share what they learnedwith the rest of their team. 
 

“Being encouraged to learn is equivalent to being encouraged to find exciting new ways to make a difference.”


When thinking of the smaller things, it’s important to note that focusing on a growth mindset doesn’t always have to mean reaching for a new role. It can mean just continuing to learn new ideas and perspectives that will help you do your job better and keep you engaged. Most people want to feel that they can try new things to make an impact. Learning new concepts fuels that ability.

 

From an employee perspective, what advice would you give to employers interested in bolstering their growth opportunities?

It’s hard to talk just about the opportunities without mentioning the culture. There are three things about Zoro that help with creating growth opportunities: our core value of transparency, a mindset of experimentation and leadership that openly demonstrates that taking time to learn is a good thing. 

My career path would have been much different if I hadn’t had leaders and respected coworkers who encouraged me to take learning time. In January, my current leader made it a priority for us to talk through personal goals for the year in a thoughtful way. It continues to mean a lot that he is invested in my growth and learning. 

My favorite thing about a growth culture is that it’s contagious. People want to help each other succeed. I’ve had all kinds of people play a role in my journey and I’m always thankful when I have been able to play a small part in the career journeys of others. I have never run into one person working here who wouldn’t be excited to make time to share more of what they do with someone who was interested to learn more about it.

 

 

 

Victoria Rasmussen
Manager, Talent Acquisition & Development • Vail Systems, Inc.

Vail Systems develops innovative technology to enhance the way people communicate.

 

What are some of the growth opportunities available to you and your colleagues? 

Vail Systems has the unique ability to be agile with promotions, having limited bureaucracy without stringent structures for promotional opportunities. Employees are promoted based on proven performance rather than having to wait for arbitrarily chosen timelines for promotion. Managers look at each team member’s contributions individually, and have the autonomy to offer their employees promotions when they see fit. This is because we don’t put limitations on the number of employees who can be promoted during a given review cycle. 

I started with Vail as an intern, and in four short years, I have been promoted at an expedited rate according to my strengths and interests. The opportunity to explore my intended career path and move into a people management position has allowed me to rapidly develop my skill set at a much faster pace than what I would expect elsewhere.

 

How does a focus on growth boost morale? 

Employees who know they will be provided growth opportunities are motivated to contribute to their role and fulfill both personal and team goals. Vail focuses on developing detailed career paths for each team, so all employees understand what skills and stretch goals are required to achieve that next career milestone. 

As someone who works with managers to develop these career paths, I have seen just how empowering it is for employees to have transparency into growth opportunities via career pathing. When levels along an individual’s career path are clearly laid out via expected responsibilities, managers are able to provide specific feedback and better support professional growth. I have also found that the more clarity employees have on expectations, the more self-efficacy they have, leading to positive and productive team contributions. I’ve witnessed many of our teams benefit greatly from this positive feedback loop.
 

“The more clarity employees have on expectations, the more self-efficacy they have.”

 

From an employee perspective, what advice would you give to employers interested in bolstering their growth opportunities? I would recommend having career paths accessible to employees and managers. These career paths should provide a clear illustration of the leveling structure within each team, alongside detailed descriptions of qualifications and responsibilities for each level. This gives employees what they need to create appropriate stretch goals and allows managers to anchor their expectations to support talent development initiatives effectively. 

I would also recommend organizational leaders allocate resources into leadership development training. Managers who are able to support their employees’ growth will see long-term benefits, such as improved retention, productivity, employee job satisfaction and work quality output. 

Vail has continually emphasized leadership development and has seen the benefits at all levels. Direct managers are key in the effectiveness of the employees they manage. Vail provides ongoing training and support for managers in leadership skills, as well as knowledge such as communication, emotional intelligence and performance management. These initiatives have resulted in managers at Vail feeling more confident in navigating the career growth journey of their employees.

 

 

 

Sarah Berger
Senior Director of Marketing • Crafty

Crafty's mission is to fuel the world's workforce through its tech-enabled food, beverage and supplies programs.

 

What are some of the growth opportunities available to you and your colleagues? 

When it comes to growth, Crafty is laser-focused on the continuous professional and personal development of our people. We want the people who join our team to stay here as long as it makes sense for them, and we are committed to making improvements that help contribute to this. Over my last two years at Crafty, I’ve been able to help build upon this focus while also taking advantage of these benefits myself. 

At a company level, I worked with our people and leadership team to roll out career development tracks so that no matter what level you are, you understand your current expectations, as well as those required at the next level. 

At a department level, I’ve instituted an agile way of working that drives both team and individual continuous improvement. This gives our marketing team members clarity in what’s expected of them, autonomy to make decisions and space to reflect on what’s working and what’s not. 

Lastly, on a personal level, I participate in regular coaching sessions as part of our leadership team to strengthen our abilities to elevate our direct reports and drive high performance. This investment has been extraordinarily valuable.

 

How does a focus on growth boost morale? 

When I made the decision to go back to a startup, I expected a limited focus on individual growth based on previous experience. Boy was I wrong. I was wildly impressed by how much structure was put in place at Crafty, as well as how much more was being addressed. 

What stood out the most was how undeniably happy people were, from new joiners to veterans to the several “boomerang” team members who exited Crafty and came back citing the people and the opportunities. 

When you put your people first, the rest follows. Our mission at Crafty is to help companies craft a better workplace, and we believe that happens from the inside out. We’ve built a culture around feedback and employee listening, whether through one-on-ones, open question-and-answer sessions or our bi-annual engagement surveys. 

 

“When you put your people first, the rest follows.”

 

The data collected from these interactions helps us prioritize our team’s needs and implement real, long-term changes that support their growth. Since I’ve been here, we’ve improved our parental leave policy, 401(k) match, in-office experience, health benefits, performance management and more. Is it perfect? No. But it is authentic, thoughtful and meeting our team members where they want us to be.

 

From an employee perspective, what advice would you give to employers interested in bolstering their growth opportunities? What are some initiatives that either work well or fall flat?

It all starts with you. What type of culture do you want to build? Who do you hope to attract and retain? What investment are you willing to put forward to make those things happen? 

We made the determination that we want to be a great place to work for the long-term. We want to attract and retain high-performing team members who align with our core values. And in order to do that, we’re building a culture and environment that allows our team members to bring their whole selves to work, while giving them the opportunities to perform their absolute best. 

The growth opportunities that have worked well for us include: management trainings and leadership coaching; providing clarity in role expectations and career development tracks; maintaining a feedback-driven culture; providing autonomy to make decisions; hosting open office hours and manager roundtables to create space; creating opportunities for role transitions between departments; and enabling resource groups to form, such as LGBTQA+ and Women at Crafty. We are constantly rebuilding and evaluating how to improve these initiatives after our initial rollout. They can only be fruitful when they continue to evolve as we do.

 

 

 

Breann Guerin
Senior Corporate Partner Success Specialist • InStride

InStride is a tech-enabled services company that delivers workforce education solutions.

 

What are some of the growth opportunities available to you and your colleagues? 

One of the reasons I joined InStride is because of the company’s mission to help provide education opportunities to employees at our corporate partners and it makes those same educational resources available to us internally at no cost. This education benefit helps me grow personally and professionally and enables me to better serve the partners I work with. 

As a first-generation college graduate, I never thought I would be able to pursue further education through a graduate degree program. Not only was I able to do that, but furthering my education has allowed me to gain valuable experience, boost my confidence and earn a promotion.

 

“As a first-generation college graduate, I never thought I would be able to pursue further education through a graduate degree program.” 

 

InStride also provides a wide variety of leadership opportunities to employees. Whether that’s leading a weekly stand-up call, hosting a webinar or speaking on a panel, these are ways my colleagues and I have been able to spearhead initiatives, influence decision-making and motivate others. These experiences have been invaluable in both my career progression and personal development.

 

How does a focus on growth boost morale? 

Employees who know their organization supports growth are encouraged to gain the skills necessary to continue advancing their careers. A growth focus also bolsters confidence and reinforces the energy and passion needed to drive outcomes. InStride invests in growth from day one, when employees are eligible to participate in our education program, Step Forward. To me, this signals that employees at all levels are valued for both their work and potential, which is a huge morale boost.

Launching an education program for a new corporate partner is a huge growth opportunity for numerous stakeholders at InStride, from sales and customer success to engineering and marketing. Each team member brings a unique skill set to the table, and we have the opportunity to collaborate and share knowledge cross functionally.

 

From an employee perspective, what advice would you give to employers interested in bolstering their growth opportunities? What are some initiatives that either work well or fall flat?

Employees can sense when growth initiatives are just checked boxes without real value behind them. My advice for employers looking to boost growth opportunities is: Be genuine and intentional. It’s also important to promote transparency and communication. If your company can show employees career paths and clearly communicate performance expectations, you create a culture of openness for managers and employees to discuss career goals and aspirations. 

I also believe employers should invest in their talent through training and development. It does not have to be a full suite of educational offerings, but workshops or certifications that are both relevant to the job market and an employee’s role at the company foster commitment to development and provide ways for employees to reach new career heights.

In terms of what falls flat, avoid a one-size-fits-all approach. And, if your company lacks opportunities for advancement or leadership exposure, employees may feel like they don’t have a chance to showcase what they’ve learned. Providing these opportunities will create an environment where employees feel supported, motivated and empowered to grow within the organization.

 

 

 

Daria Hungate
Director of People Operations • DearDoc

DearDoc helps private practice doctors grow their business through technology.

 

What are some of the growth opportunities available to you and your colleagues? 

Employees can develop their skills and advance their careers through growth opportunities such as internal promotions, professional development programs and mentorship pairing.

Internal promotions allow employees to move up within the company, taking on more significant roles and responsibilities as they demonstrate their capabilities and contributions.

Our professional development programs include workshops, training sessions and courses aimed at enhancing specific skills relevant to the employees' roles.

Lastly, connecting employees across departments will showcase leadership abilities and enable employees to receive guidance, support and career advice.

Additionally, our philanthropy committee gives employees a chance to be a part of something meaningful with their colleagues, fostering a sense of community and shared purpose while contributing to impactful causes.
 

DEARDOC’S BENEFITS OF A GROWTH FOCUS

  • Empowerment: Employees feel valued when their development is prioritized, leading to increased job satisfaction and loyalty.
  • Engagement: Opportunities for growth keep employees engaged and motivated, as they see a clear path for their career advancement within the company.
  • Team Cohesion: Collaborative growth initiatives, like hackathons, help build stronger team bonds and improve communication among employees.

 

Do you have any examples of how DearDoc’s growth focus boosts morale?

An example of this is our philanthropy committee, for which employees from different departments joined forces to work on charitable initiatives, fostering interdepartmental relationships and a shared sense of purpose. This initiative not only empowered participants by allowing them to contribute to meaningful causes, but also provided a sense of fulfillment. The committee's activities led to increased collaboration and a more cohesive company culture.

 

From an employee perspective, what advice would you give to employers interested in bolstering their growth opportunities? What are some initiatives that either work well or fall flat?

Effective Initiatives include structured career pathways, continual learning opportunities and recognition programs. Clearly defined career progression paths help employees understand how they can advance within the company. Providing access to ongoing training and development resources keeps employees’ skills sharp and relevant. Acknowledging and rewarding employees’ efforts and achievements in their growth journey can boost morale and motivation — DearDoc recently implemented a Monthly Excellence Award to recognize employees’ achievements. 

Initiatives that may fall flat include one-size-fits-all training, lack of follow-through and limited accessibility.  

Generic training programs that do not cater to the specific needs and roles of employees may be less effective. Initiatives that are launched but not consistently supported or evaluated can lead to employee frustration and disengagement. Opportunities that are not accessible to all employees — such as those requiring extensive time commitments or located only at certain offices — can create disparities and resentment.

 

 

Responses have been edited for length and clarity. Images provided by Shutterstock and listed companies.

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