“To me, workforce development means setting conditions that harmonize our employees’ professional growth with the company’s growth.”
That’s Craig Heilman, COO at D.C.-based LawIQ, a four-year-old SaaS company that offers an analytics platform, research insights and advisory services for energy companies.
Heilman has been with LawIQ for two and a half years, and he said workforce development is important to the company. LawIQ has 20 employees who are a mix of full-timers and independent contractors. Most of its team works from Capitol Hill, plus some sales associates in Denver and its software engineers stationed in Hunt Valley, Maryland.
LawIQ’s portfolio of professional development offerings for its employees includes an allotted $3,000 per employee to spend per year, with flexibility depending on how their chosen course, conference or market activity fits into the employee’s career goals.
“Our founders made this a focus for LawIQ since day one, and we want our teammates that are new or newer to the workforce to benefit from our commitment and integrate workforce development into their leadership effort throughout their careers,” said Heilman.
One professional development initiative the company is testing out is putting an employee through a General Assembly bootcamp to learn UI/UX design. LawIQ’s lead product manager is enrolled now, and is using real company projects for applied learning. Heilman said LawIQ hopes to send more product managers in the future if it’s a good experience.
"While none of the individual things we do are necessarily unique, we believe in totality — they represent the large commitment to our team."
Elsewhere, one LawIQ data scientist is taking a course at Stanford University. Heilman said the company often sends its engineers to Amazon Web Services conferences, too, and brings members of LawIQ’s advisory board in to share information about the growing industry from an expert point of view. The company also hosts offsite meetings for its team to bring everyone together for “planning, camaraderie and knowledge sharing.”
Employees are also furthering their career development via LinkedIn.
“We provide LinkedIn Learning for all team members, so they can access the thousands of courses anytime on [a] range of subjects. And we have begun creating custom learning paths by function for initial and continuous training,” said Heilman. “Team members have participated in a variety of professional conferences, and we transcribe the learnings into courses we share via LinkedIn Learning.”
There’s also a follow-up process for employees to share what they learned with the team: After all professional development experiences, Heilman said team members conduct an “after action report” during the company’s biweekly, all-hands Fortnight Forums to share their learnings.
Outside of its full-time staff, LawIQ partners with HackCville, University of Virginia’s accelerator program, to hire data science, software engineering and marketing interns. Heilman said that from this program, the company was able to build a for-credit externship for one of its data science interns, who worked for the company part-time during her senior year of college.
“While none of the individual things we do are necessarily unique, we believe in totality — they represent the large commitment to our team and advantage in attracting and retaining great people that are and want to be lifelong learners,” said Heilman.
The COO shared some tips for startups looking to incorporate more workforce development initiatives as they scale:
- It’s not just for big or mature companies — Allocate resources, make it a priority and talk about it constantly.
- Be flexible with the different career goals and learning styles of your team — Try to provide a variety of options, and recognize they won’t always perfectly align with company priorities.
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