When it comes to scaling an agency, the smartest shops aren’t just focusing on increasing the number of employees on payroll or growing revenue. They’re investing in the people who’ve made that sort of success possible. They are building a culture where ambition is rewarded and potential is met with opportunities to grow.
Over the past 18 months, HZ has launched several professional development programs to strengthen our corps of creatives and strategists. The goal is not only to deepen the skill sets of our employees, but to broaden their grasp of the marketing ecosystem as well—to help Community Managers learn what Email Marketing can do, to help UX Designers think like Content Strategists, to help Project Managers understand the demands of Web Developers, and more.
Here are the first steps we’ve taken to cultivate our in-house talent.
School’s in Session
Taught by hand-picked specialists within the agency, HZ Academy provides a comfortable and casual learning environment where employees are encouraged to broaden their skill set and deepen their understanding of topics ranging from Content Strategy and Design Thinking to Search & Analytics and Influencer Marketing.
The program echoes the structure of college courses, with prerequisites based on levels of understanding. Classes build and expand on previous lessons and embrace hands-on activities. And yes, sometimes there’s homework.
Get Out There and Learn
Raw talent is great. Natural curiosity is even better. Our Ambassador Program rewards employees who express an exceptional interest in their craft by funding professional development opportunities outside of the office.
Here’s how it works: When HZ employees contribute to the HZ brand—say, writing a blog post or live-tweeting from a conference—they are credited with Ambassador points. Employees can cash in these points in to pay for things like online marketing courses or tickets to a panel, industry talk, or meetup. They can even use points to attend major events like CES or SXSW.
Ultimately, the program encourages all employees to stay on top of the latest and greatest concepts, practices, and trends in the industry. HZ wants everyone to keep exploring what’s possible in advertising and media so that we, as an agency, can stay innovative in our approach.
Show Me How It’s Done
While in-house education programs and extracurricular experiences are great for piquing curiosity and build foundational knowledge, we’ve found that some of our teammates prefer direct, one-on-one guidance.
The Mentor program matches motivated junior- and mid-level employees with some of our agency’s most inspiring and talented leaders, inviting Designers to learn from Art Directors, Copywriters to shadow Creative Directors, and everything in between.
Better yet, the program doesn’t limit HZers to their current role or department. If someone is interested in shifting their specialty within the company, the Mentor program offers an opportunity to learn more about a new team or position to see if it is a comfortable fit.