Being a Good Employer: A Personal Journey to the Young Professional Employer Award

I was recently deeply humbled to receive the Young Professional Employer Award, a recognition that is much more than just a personal accomplishment. This accolade is particularly significant to me because it reflects the culture and values we’ve cultivated at LaunchUX. Our mission has always been to offer young professionals fulfilling, transformative opportunities, and this award affirms that we’re headed in the right direction. But in a world where the “Great Resignation” is trending, and employees are becoming more willing than ever to walk away from workplaces that don’t meet their needs, this award is also a reminder of employers’ tremendous responsibility.

Creating a positive employee culture is not just an ethical choice; it’s a business imperative. With the rising costs of recruiting and the loss of institutional knowledge that comes with high turnover, fostering a work environment that keeps employees engaged is more crucial than ever. When people are more than just content at their jobs—when they are genuinely fulfilled and see growth opportunities—they are less likely to “quit quietly” by disengaging while still remaining on the job, a phenomenon that poses its own set of challenges to employers.

In this blog, I’d like to delve deeper into what I believe makes a good employer, backed by trends reshaping the modern workplace. I’ll share some of my personal experiences that have shaped this journey and actionable insights that can help other employers foster a culture of engagement, development, and mutual respect.

Years ago, when I graduated from college, the prevailing wisdom was to seek opportunities beyond my local community. However, a local businessman took a chance on me, altering the trajectory of my career and, in turn, shaping my values as an employer.

How I Approach Being a Good Employer

Investing in Education and Training

One cornerstone of responsible and impactful employer-ship is a commitment to the personal and professional development of your employees. This commitment isn’t just a line item on a budget sheet; it’s an investment in the future success of the individual and the organization. In a market landscape characterized by constant technological evolution and competitive challenges, standing still is not an option. Continuous learning and upskilling are imperatives, not just for the employee but for the company seeking to maintain a competitive edge.

At LaunchUX, we’ve taken this philosophy to heart, investing significantly in specialized training programs tailored to our team’s unique needs and aspirations. But our commitment to education goes beyond conventional methods. Recognizing that everyone has a different learning style and that some skills are best honed through personalized attention, we have hired industry experts to mentor our up-and-coming team members. This enriches the learning experience and provides invaluable networking opportunities, offering a multi-faceted approach to career development.

The dividends from this investment are manifold. Employees who feel their growth is being invested in are more likely to invest their time, energy, and creativity into the company. Furthermore, a well-trained team is more adept at adapting to industry changes, solving complex problems, and innovating, driving the kind of success that benefits everyone involved.

Moreover, investing in your employees’ development sets a tone for the workplace culture. It communicates that you view your employees not as replaceable cogs in a machine but as valuable contributors to the company’s mission. This contributes to higher levels of engagement, lower turnover, and, ultimately, a more robust bottom line. In an age where employees are looking for meaningful work and opportunities for growth, an employer who provides a pathway to continuous learning is an employer who builds a future-proof, resilient organization.

Providing Abilities for Employees to Change Their Specialty

Static roles and fixed job descriptions are quickly becoming obsolete. The demands of modern business require employees who are not just specialists but also adaptable problem-solvers capable of wearing multiple hats. This adaptability isn’t just an advantage; it’s a necessity for survival in a volatile marketplace. That’s why at LaunchUX, we’ve prioritized providing our employees with the flexibility to change their specialties as they grow within our organization.

But this approach isn’t merely about keeping up with industry trends or filling temporary skill gaps; it’s about investing in the holistic development of our team members. Allowing employees the freedom to explore different specialties encourages a culture of continuous learning and intellectual curiosity. It transforms the workplace into a lab for career growth, where each project or role can be a stepping stone to another, empowering employees to design their own career paths rather than feeling boxed into a single role.

Switching specialties isn’t just a boon for employees; it’s a strategic advantage for the company. Employees with experience in multiple business areas bring a broader perspective to problem-solving. They can see the links between different departments, anticipate challenges that others might overlook, and propose more integrated and innovative solutions. In a way, these multi-specialty team members become the living connective tissue of the organization, helping to break down silos and foster a more collaborative and agile culture.

More than Just Wages

Fair and generous compensation is a critical cornerstone in expressing value for your employees, but it’s important to remember that ‘compensation’ extends beyond just a regular paycheck. At LaunchUX, we adopt a holistic approach to rewarding our team for their hard work and dedication. Not only do we make it a point to review wages bi-annually, ensuring that our team members are compensated according to market rates and their skill sets, but we also offer a comprehensive retirement program. This way, we’re not just investing in our employees’ present; we’re also helping to secure their future, proving that our commitment to them is long-term.

But compensation isn’t a one-size-fits-all concept. Different team members value different forms of rewards, and we recognize that. For example, after our web development team completed a project in record time, we celebrated this milestone by organizing an office hibachi lunch at a local restaurant. These kinds of experiences don’t just serve as a ‘pat on the back’; they also contribute to team cohesion and morale, reaffirming the company’s culture and values in a more relaxed, social setting.

And it’s not just about celebratory lunches or dinners. Whether it’s offering flexible work hours, giving additional days off, or even providing opportunities for further training and development, we aim to create a comprehensive compensation package that addresses multiple facets of life and work. These additional ‘perks’ are not just tokens of appreciation; they’re strategic investments in employee satisfaction and, by extension, employee retention.

We also include non-monetary rewards as a form of compensation. This could be in the form of public recognition during company meetings, features in internal newsletters, or even small tokens like gift cards. Sometimes, it’s these small, thoughtful gestures that make a significant impact, showing employees that their contributions are noticed and valued.

Incorporating Employee Suggestions

An organization that listens is one that thrives. This isn’t just a feel-good mantra; it’s a strategic imperative for businesses that aim to adapt, evolve, and excel. At LaunchUX, we understand the value of collective wisdom, which is why we’ve embedded mechanisms into our company culture to harvest and integrate suggestions from all team members, regardless of rank or role.

One way we do this is through our weekly company meetings, which always include an open-floor segment. During this time, anyone in the company can bring up ideas, concerns, or suggestions. The aim is not just to provide a forum for expression but to find actionable insights that can make our workflow more efficient, our clients happier, and our employees more engaged.

A recent example illustrates the transformative power of this simple yet effective practice. A few weeks ago, one of our Junior Developers was facing consistent roadblocks in gathering essential information from a client to kickstart a project. The issue wasn’t just a personal hindrance; it was slowing down the entire development process. During one of our weekly meetings, an account manager suggested that we make the collection of this information a formal part of our client onboarding process. The result? A smoother workflow, less frustration among team members, and a quicker project turnaround time—all from a single, well-placed suggestion.

Small changes like this might seem insignificant on the surface, but they accumulate into a more efficient, more harmonious work environment. By creating a culture that encourages these suggestions, we’re doing more than solving immediate problems; we’re instilling a mindset of continuous improvement. Employees feel a greater sense of ownership and engagement when they see their ideas come to fruition, enhancing job satisfaction and productivity.

Incorporating employee suggestions into our operational DNA doesn’t just make work less frustrating; it enriches our company culture, fostering a sense of community and shared purpose.

Why This Matters

The modern workforce is undergoing a seismic shift in expectations, with old paradigms giving way to new realities. Today’s professionals are not solely motivated by the allure of a hefty paycheck; they’re increasingly seeking workplaces that offer purpose, mentorship, and ample opportunities for personal and professional growth. These changing expectations necessitate a new breed of employer—one who leads with vision, listens with empathy, and continually adapts to the evolving needs of their team.

In years past, the employer-employee relationship was often viewed through a transactional lens: work hours traded for monetary compensation. While financial stability remains crucial, today’s professionals are looking at their careers as more than just a means to an economic end. They’re seeking work that aligns with their values, offers challenges that foster growth, and provides a supportive environment where mentorship and learning are integral parts of the culture.

This is why purpose has become such a buzzword in the modern job market. Employees are more engaged and productive when they feel that their work contributes to a greater mission. Whether that mission is client satisfaction, technological innovation, or social impact, a clear sense of purpose motivates team members to bring their best selves to work each day.

But purpose alone isn’t enough; mentorship plays an equally crucial role in this new professional landscape. Employees, particularly younger ones, are seeking leaders who can offer guidance, share wisdom, and help navigate the often complex trajectories of their careers. They want bosses who are also coaches, advisors, and advocates—people who can help them not just succeed in their current roles but prepare them for the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.

Additionally, the modern workforce values the room for both personal and professional growth. This encompasses not just upward mobility, but also lateral growth that allows employees to acquire new skills, switch specialties, or take on different kinds of projects. It’s this multi-dimensional growth that adds depth and richness to an employee’s career, making them more versatile, adaptable, and ultimately, more satisfied in their work.

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