At Time Warner Cable, continuing education opportunities are inspiring employees to mentor others and guide them through the additional training it takes to earn promotions and reach goals.
One of the largest cable providers in the country, the New York City-based company makes it a point to invest in the career growth of its 52,000 employees, as it offers in-house technical training and supports employees who take courses at colleges and universities.
This emphasis on helping employees reach their educational goals is also prompting some to help others boost their skills and job titles, says Maggie Huffman, the company’s Employee Service Center manager of employee programs.
“Promoting from within is very big for our company,” she says. “But to have the right talent, we have to help them get to the next level.”
Huffman, like other employees at Time Warner Cable, has taken this message to heart. She’s currently mentoring an employee just starting along a career path that looks similar to the one she took. Huffman is guiding Employee Service Center specialist Jason Beane toward professional progression by helping him set career goals and to find the best courses, conferences and webinars that will add to his skill set.
“I am personally invested in and passionate about his growth,” Huffman says.
Mentorship is becoming increasingly important to today’s employees and having someone to guide those seeking to improve their skills can be valuable. A 2013 survey of 1,000 millennial workers and their managers by Millennial Branding, a workplace research and consulting firm, found that 59% of employees believed their managers could offer experience and wisdom to them; 53% say that a mentoring relationship would help them become a more productive contributor to their company.
“Finding someone ahead of you in your career and figuring out how they got there is important,” says Dan Schawbel, founder of Millennial Branding and author of “Promote Yourself: The New Rules for Career Success.” “They can say, ‘I had to get this certification, this type of experience, these skills.’”
That’s in part what Huffman is doing for Beane, who has worked at Time Warner Cable for more than four years. “I’m hungry, so whatever I can do in my current role to support my manager in a better way, I want to do it,” he says. “I want to grow here.”
Time Warner Cable employees often make use of the company’s Education Assistance Program, which helps students pursue classes and degrees with institutions of higher education. In addition, a voucher program with partner colleges and universities ensures that employees don’t have to pay out of pocket or put their progress on hold due to finances.
The company offers other ways of receiving additional training and expertise as well. On advice from Huffman, Beane is taking online courses through Time Warner Cable’s learning management system, learning how to use Excel spreadsheets and the company’s human resources software. He’s also taken face-to-face trainings from in-house analysts and attended webinars and conferences recommended by Huffman. “When you have these benefits and growth opportunities, as well as someone to help you get there, it gives you a different outlook on your company,” Beane says.
Jeanne Meister, co-author of “The 2020 Workplace: How Innovative Companies Attract, Develop, and Keep Tomorrow’s Employee Today,” agrees. With many of today’s younger workers known for changing jobs at a breakneck pace, companies that can find ways to keep employee turnover low with benefits like continuing education and mentorships can cut costs and retain talent, she says.
According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average worker stays in a job for about four years, but younger workers—or millennials—expect to stay in a job for less than three years according to a Future Workplace“Multiple Generations @ Work” survey of 1,189 employees and 150 managers.
Meister adds that millennials “are brought up to be social and to network online, but they still prefer face-to-face professional development. They are seeking out mentors.”
These types of career guides can steer mentees toward a range of formal and informal development opportunities—everything from which degree program to enroll in to which courses to take or which LinkedIn groups to join. It’s this type of continuing education that has made Huffman and others in the company want to help others achieve their career goals. “It promotes a passion for the business,” she says, “and for seeing others succeed.”
Strayer University partners with Time Warner Cable to educate the company’s workforce.