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A shift of responsibility led Digitalent to success

On October 29, all Digitalent employees will attend a full-day training in self leadership. It’s the second day the company has set aside for teacher-led skill development in 2021 and part of an initiative that has proven to be both effective and appreciated.

Digitalent recently made some major changes to their skill development program. Previously, employees were given a sum of money and two days per year to use at their discretion for professional development. According to people partner Jonas Lundmark, they quickly realized that there was potential for improvement.

“We found that the time and the money were not used to a great extent – only about 50 % of our employees used the opportunity we gave them.”

Based on that insight, Digitalent decided that there must be a better way. As a consulting company in the IT industry, it is of great importance to stay up to date on the latest technology and trends. And Jonas is a firm believer in walking the walk.

“Most companies say that they prioritize skill development, but in reality, there is not a lot of action. At least that's my experience. And you know, the product we sell is our consultants' knowledge. So, in terms of product development, that is where we need to put our time and money.” ‏‏‎ ‎ ‏‏‎

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Increasing commitment by reducing the choices

Jonas Lundmark and his colleagues concluded that management needed to take over more parts of the planning process. By setting two dates per year when all consultants were to leave their assignments and participate in training, they hoped to increase employee participation from 50 to 100 %.

But how would Digitalent’s employees react to losing the freedom to dispose of the allocated money and time themselves?

“We understood early that if we are to be able to engage employees in this initiative and ensure that the training is relevant, everyone needs to be involved in the decision-making process. So, each team, or Crowd as we call it, gets to create a priority list of areas they want to develop in. Which, of course, is perfectly reasonable. I can’t tell our front-end developers what they need to learn next, they know that best themselves.”

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Choosing a learning theme

Jonas says that some of the learning themes are technically oriented, while others are more focused on soft skills.

“The choice of themes revolves a lot around us asking ourselves the question: Okay, what's the next iteration in our workflow? How do we get to the next level?”

When focusing on technical competence, all consultants take part and are divided into their respective Crowds: frontend, backend, data, IT management and designers. Examples of techniques and topics they have covered so far are Kubernetes, web performance and user story mapping.

The next training event takes place on October 29, and the theme for the day is self-leadership.

“When planning for this particular event, we put a lot of emphasis on self-reflection. Other buzzwords occurring in the planning process were productivity, prioritization, self-awareness and personal development.”

As self-leadership is considered a soft skill, all employees will take part this time – not just the consultants. The theme has some connection to the ongoing pandemic, but Jonas points out that self-leadership is a constantly relevant topic.

“The tools our employees receive from this training will, among other things, help them prioritize their tasks and work with their own development. We think everyone can benefit from that, regardless of what professional role you have. But if you work remotely, it can definitely be of extra help.”

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And the response?

According to Jonas Lundmark, Digitalent’s new recipe for skill development is so successful that they plan to expand it.

“Overall, we have received a very positive response from employees to the changes we made. So far it has been a huge success, both in terms of commitment and actual results. This year we had two training days, but next year we plan to have three and in 2023 we will extend to four days.”

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