In Bleau A/S (the company I work for) we now dedicate 1 day in each sprint to the development of the skills of each individual developer. Each sprint lasts 10 working days, and so this means that 1 day equals to 10 percent of the employees’ working hours. It might seem a lot, but we actually believe that we can become a much better agency by allocating this amount of time.
This is a relatively new decision and it has been a tough one. We are still a very small company – with 30 employees in total – and spending 10 % on the development of each individual is a major investment for us. And then there’s the issue of demanding projects and demanding customers. We’re always busy, and it is difficult to focus on personal development, when you know that there are tough deadlines to be met. We’re often focusing much more on the short-term future, than the long-term.
We made this decision because we realize that if we want to stay in business, we need motivated and skilled employees, and we also need to train them ourselves. We’re growing as a business, and we need employees who are able to make clever decisions on their own. And the fact that we’re a digital agency demands employees who are well educated and observant of the latest trends and technologies. The knowledge that our employees gain from this personal development will benefit our customers and their projects.
Of course, we already had motivated and skilled employees before this new program. And of course we also spent time on personal development. However, it was much more ad hoc and much more something that was done after hours. Now we feel that we can control it much more – both in terms of the content but also in terms of making sure that each employee actually spends the time.
The future must show whether or not this 10 % is the correct amount or not. It seems to be right, and our employees has grasped the opportunity. Our employees are now becoming certified in such different areas as QA, Scrum, Dynamicweb and Microsoft. However, we also encourage our employees to pursue smaller areas of interest – e.g. improving their skills in CSS or jQuery.
But how do you practice personal development? Does your company also dedicate a certain amount of time? And how much does it allocate? Or is it more ad hoc? I would really like to learn more about this, so if you have any experience on this subject, then please write a comment.