Creating a Gateway to Opportunity: How We’ve Created a Culture of Learning and Development

At Macro Solutions, learning and development is a gateway to opportunity – for our employees, our clients, and the company itself. And it’s a maxim we’ve remained faithful to since our founding more than 20 years ago.

It may sound like business 101, but too often companies overlook the value of continuous learning. I get that; it’s not an easy culture to instill. When I hired my first employee and they asked me what their path within the company might look like, I didn’t have an answer. But, as a team, we quickly figured out how to provide those pathways for every employee.

Today, our learning ecosystem is fundamental to our culture of inclusion. It’s also one of the reasons why, year after year, our employees have voted Macro Solutions as one of the top places to work.

Macro’s learning culture is a sustained team effort

One of the reasons why companies struggle with building a framework for learning and development is that they believe that learning is solely about upskilling employees for the here and now, for their job versus a career. I don’t buy into that philosophy.

At Macro, we believe learning and development is key to improving overall company performance and employee satisfaction – for the long term. In fact, everyone from the leadership team down views it as integral to the entire business’s success, and we focus our resources accordingly.

We do this by adopting a multi-faceted approach. Our managers regularly engage their teams to discuss development plans – both what is required for the employee’s position today and where they want to be tomorrow. They also work with HR leadership and our director of quality and staff development to ensure that any classes, certifications, and advancement opportunities are aligned with the employee’s individual path. After all, people learn best when training is customized to their needs.

Our Consultant Care team is also actively involved in the process. Dedicated to ensuring the happiness and success of our consultants, the program is an open channel for positioning them for maximum well-being and success – and learning and development is a big part of that.

Investing in our greatest assets

To support these plans, we provide each employee with an annual training and recertification budget of $3,000. This has covered countless technical certifications from organizations including AWS, Microsoft, GitHub, CMMI, CISSP, SAFe, Security +, the Lean Kanban University, and many more.

But we also want our employees to be good program managers and leaders and encourage them to grow their business skills through certifications such as PMP, PMI, and Scrum Master.

During 2020, more than 1,937 hours were dedicated to employee skills training and certifications. And today, almost two-thirds of our employees hold training certificates.

Many of these certifications are required by our federal contracts, but we also put these skills into practice across our internal business operations – automating and optimizing processes and realizing efficiency gains. We run our office the way we run our client projects, always with an eye on delivering continuous value.

Aspirational training that puts our clients front and center

We’re conscious that time waits for no one. As is often the case in the technology sector, many of the skills that our clients will require in the future are not yet in demand. We never want to be in a place where the work outgrows us, so our culture of learning also emphasizes “aspirational training” – training that sets our employees and us up for the long game and apart from our competitors.

For instance, knowing that practice areas such as intelligent automation and RPA are gaining traction in the federal government, we created working groups and encouraged certifications for employees who want to participate in these cutting-edge projects. With a solid knowledge and experienced bench in place, we are well-positioned to support our federal clients the moment they need to scale their automation initiatives.

The federal contracting space is also highly competitive, and our aspirational training programs and certifications allow us to successfully recompete and take our happy clients to the next level.

Career advancement always comes from within

When an employee is ready for a new challenge, we encourage them to move between projects and find new opportunities internally. They shouldn’t have to leave Macro to find the positions they aspire to.

We also encourage employees to pursue ideas and interests that matter to them while fully supporting our clients’ missions. Case in point, we hired a project manager for a specific practice area. Incidentally, he had a robust background in big data and asked if he could spearhead the launch of a data management practice at Macro. “Let’s do it,” we said. It’s now a high-growth area for the business, with clients including the DoD, Department of Health and Human Services, Defense Intelligence Agency, and more!

Our employees are never alone in this. There is always a mentor by their side (often me) to help them map and reach their career milestones.

A bond of trust forged by a corporate culture of excellence

Today’s business environment is dynamic and fast evolving. To adapt and keep pace, people should always be learning. That’s why we’re constantly rethinking and reinventing our learning practice. And the payoff makes me proud. Our employees tell me that this is where they want to be, this feels like home – and our 97% employee retention rate is a testament to that sentiment.

Plus, by making learning a part of everyday work, we’ve nurtured an environment that drives our federal clients’ missions forward. It’s a win for all.