Impressive professional development benefits from Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and more

One way to boost your retention rate is to offer employees professional development benefits. Read about eight tech companies' ongoing education opportunities.

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Image: iStockphoto/ALEX SEREBRYAKOV

Workshops, seminars, online courses and certifications, tech conferences, guest speakers, access to necessary software and hardware—these are some of the ways that companies can provide employees with ongoing professional development opportunities.

According to the 2018 Workplace Learning Report from LinkedIn Learning, 94% of employees surveyed would stay at a company longer if it invested in their career. A 2017 developer survey from StackOverflow found that developers "emphasized the importance of career development over any other factor by a large margin."

Business News Daily explains the numerous benefits of offering professional development programs, which include enabling employees to:

  • Improve or update existing knowledge and skills;
  • Develop new skills;
  • Gain expertise, keeping them ahead of the competition;
  • Improve overall job satisfaction; and
  • Develop soft skills (i.e., leadership, communication, collaboration, time management) which improves the ability to collaborate more effectively.

SEE: Why IT pros need soft skills to advance their careers (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Amazon, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Zillow were all listed on the 2018 Comparably Best Companies for Professional Development list (large companies), as rated by employees. The following list outlines some of the ways these and other tech companies are investing in their employees' futures.

Amazon

In 2012, Amazon launched its Career Choice program; the benefit offers up to $12,000 for tuition, fees, and textbooks. Career Choice is open to all hourly associates employed for one continuous year and to employees in 13 countries and across subsidiary companies. The program has had more than 16,000 participants worldwide (12,000 in the US).

Unlike traditional tuition reimbursement programs, Amazon funds education only in areas that are in high-demand based on sources that include the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. The most popular fields of study include commercial truck driving, healthcare, and information technology. Other fields include aircraft mechanics, computer-aided design, machine tool technology, medical laboratory science, dental hygiene, and nursing.

Amazon has built more than 40 Career Choice classrooms so far in the US and more than 10 in Europe. Classrooms are located behind glass walls in high-traffic areas so fellow employees can be inspired by seeing their peers pursue new skills. New Amazon fulfillment centers will have on-site classrooms as part of their standard blueprint.

Google

Google creates a "culture of learning"—an "environment that encourages curiosity and knowledge sharing," which promotes better business outcomes. The company takes a unique approach to career development and ongoing learning for its employees through the Googler-to-Googler (G2G) program.

In the program, employees teach their peers new job skills. Volunteers (or "g2g'ers") come from different departments and can teach courses, participate in 1:1 mentoring, and design learning materials. The most popular classes focus on negotiations, leadership, and role-related skills such as sales training, Android training, and Python coding.

According to Google, 80% of all tracked trainings are run through G2G; for more specialized or executive training, Google utilizes outside vendors to teach some classes, but this is done "sparingly."

Google also uses a program called Career Guru to help with career development. Similar to a mentorship program, Career Guru connects employees with company leaders who offer in-depth explanations on what it's like to work in different roles within the company—this can help employees understand what roles are available and how they can qualify.

Dell Technologies

Through the Dell Technologies Career Development program, employees can take advantage of one-on-one meetings with mentors and leaders, networking opportunities, regular 360-degree feedback, continuous formal and virtual training, and mentorship programs.

According to the company, "Dell Technologies has transformed learning to be engaging, relevant, and leading edge." In response to the evolving needs of their business and learners, the company is "changing how, when, and where employees develop critical skills to thrive and succeed both for now and the future." The company has made key investments like the implementation of a leading-edge learning experience platform called the Dell Technologies Learning Studio and re-imagined immersive leadership development to help employees achieve, develop, grow, and succeed.

The Learning Studio is an interactive platform for learning and improving the development experience; it enables a personalized learning experience where learners have access to premium external content. Employees can get content from sources like LinkedIn Learning, TED Talks, and edX, as well as Dell Technologies' internal content. Employees have the option to follow curated learning paths or build their own.

Through the use of AI, the Learning Studio generates recommendations based on the employee's career and learning interests. Featured pathways include developing future, professional, and leadership skills, as well as business-specific technical learning. The Learning Studio empowers employees to strengthen relationships, creates a sense of community across the company, and enables mastery of new skills through practice, supported by leading software and their peers.

Additional information about leadership programs and professional development opportunities offered by Dell Technologies is available on the company's website.

Intel

Intel has an extensive professional development program. According to the company, internal and external resources such as tuition assistance, classroom and on-demand learning resources, career advisers, and more are available for employees.

Intel's Learning Pathways includes a variety of on-demand, classroom-based, and domain/group-specific professional development opportunities for employees with an eye toward increased employability for all. The company also offers additional career development programs such as: Always-On Learning, cohort-based programs, the Technical Leadership Development and Incubator Learning series, Results at Intel, and Managing at Intel.

Also provided: Development tools like the Career Connections tool, a platform to initiate and maintain a learning partnership, and Rotational Assignments through the Development Opportunity Tool (DOT), in which employees receive opportunities intended to supplement their overall career development plan, build skills, expand business acumen, and broaden their network of colleagues.

Microsoft

Microsoft offers amazing perks to its employees, including career development. According to Microsoft's website, its philosophy is "to support [the company's] growth mindset culture and meet the learning needs of employees around the world. [Microsoft's] training philosophy focuses on providing the right learning, at the right time, in the right way." As such, the company provides a wide array of learning and development opportunities, which include:

  • Personalized, integrated, and relevant views of all learning opportunities via Microsoft Learning and LinkedIn Learning.
  • In-the-classroom learning and sharing with learner boards.
  • On-the-job "stretch" opportunities for advancement.
  • Frequent promotion opportunities.
  • Ongoing career development coaching through manager connections.
  • Customized manager training to enhance coaching and mentoring skills.

Adobe

Through its Learning Fund, Adobe offers its regular employees (interns and Adobe-paid temporary employees are not eligible) reimbursement for education and professional development expenses. The program will reimburse up to $10,000 per year for tuition, course fees, certification fees, and required books for approved coursework.

The program will also reimburse up to $1,000/year for professional development opportunities including: Conferences, workshops, professional or technical training courses, online learning, and professional memberships.

Facebook

The social media giant has several tools and resources available to help its employees thrive in their careers. Facebook offers: A six-month onboarding program, classroom and online learning to develop leadership and professional skills, self-paced learning programs, and career coaching and mentoring programs.

Zillow

Zillow Group offers many great benefits to its employees, including cultivating a culture of career development. Its philosophy is to "empower employees to increase their knowledge, build skills, and take charge of their career." The company offers all employees access to online courses through Lynda.com, its Speakers Series, and classes ranging from coding 101 to public speaking.

Author's note: Most of the information provided on this list was provided from company representatives; some of the information was compiled from company websites.

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By Kristen Lotze

Kristen Lotze is an Associate Writer for TechRepublic. She is a graduate of the University of Louisville, and previously worked as an intern in the Marketing and Communications department at Metropolitan State University of Denver.