How to Break Down Barriers to Professional Training

R+K Summer School enabled each team member to earn a digital certification

Professional training is universally valued; it helps us brush up on industry trends, provides an opportunity to hone our skill set, and inspires us to take our work to the next level. So why do so many professionals fail to prioritize it? We recently polled our network to identify the biggest hurdles to completing skills-based professional training. More than half (59%) of respondents said time.

With mounting day-to-day client responsibilities, it can be difficult to press pause to focus on ourselves. Rhea + Kaiser wants to change the way we perceive professional training – from a growth opportunity we give to ourselves to something we owe clients and ourselves as an agency: to always be learning.

Introducing: R+K Summer School

Training has a way of reenergizing the professional mind, ensuring that curiosity has greater purpose, our questions stay rooted in strategy, and those reinforced questions lead to better solutions. For Pathfinders, training is part of the adventure! That’s why this summer we launched R+K Summer School.

Our annual training goal for agency employees is 40 hours: one-third agency driven, one-third supervisor driven, and one-third employee driven. While we offer opportunities that appeal to many different learning styles, we know everyone learns differently. That’s why we left R+K Summer School up to each team member, with only one requirement: each employee must earn a digital certification.

Taking a Time Out for Training

As an agency, we host bi-weekly Thought Leadership Thursdays, an all-agency meeting time for employees to share learnings from a variety of experiences including client challenges, new channel executions, training opportunities, and others. Trusting the curiosity and drive within our team, we elected to pause our agency’s bi-weekly Thought Leadership Thursday during the summer months and have every employee use that time to secure a valued digital certification on their own schedule by Labor Day. 

We challenged our full staff to research digital skills training opportunities and select one that would be most valuable to them. Nearly our entire staff is currently enrolled and earning certification through one of the following providers: Google (Analytics, Campaign Manager, Ads), Hubspot, Content Marketing Institute, Hootsuite, Facebook, Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) and Dirty Planning.

Turning Training into Transformation

As we all know, a new skill is only as valuable as its execution, so we got to work applying what we’ve learned immediately. Smaller teams are sharing their learnings to date, some team members have applied their new tools to bolster existing and prospective client work, and virtual watercooler conversations are lighting up with new resources employees feel inspired to share.

After Labor Day, our traditional Thought Leadership Thursdays will resume, but our culture of learning continues. Our expectation is that R+K Pathfinders are always learning and evolving. So while we’ll share out critical learnings and implications from each R+K Summer School certification in the near term, we also continue our long-term traditions incorporating learning expectations in annual performance reviews and providing bi-weekly summaries of training opportunities available to employees. 

If the year and a half navigating the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that our world is always changing. Never press pause on your personal journey to learn about your profession, and look for opportunities to turn changes into catalysts for creativity and exploration.

Stay tuned for a follow-up post after Labor Day, where we’ll share some of what we learned in R+K Summer School.

R+K’s Stephanie Heusuk, Chief Executive Officer, contributed to this post.

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