by Mark Mahoney, an EO Charlotte member and president of Jackrabbit Technologies, Inc.
With Jackrabbit Technologies at its 10-year milestone and exceeding 40 full-time employees, I found myself brainstorming on ways to manage our culture as we grow.
Since the beginning, my partner and I have modeled the company’s benefits after what helps us live full lives. In light of that, we felt that lifelong learning should somehow be involved. We just weren’t sure how.
No matter how successful you are, you need to keep learning – and not just job skills. You need to soak up information that can help you be a better team member or simply a better person.
A lifelong learning focus is one of the things I love about EO. I continue to learn along with my fellow EO Charlotte members, and I feel like it helps me keep a fresh perspective. I’ve never had a greater desire to improve myself and my abilities. I want to share that feeling with my employees. I believe that fun, useful learning experiences can boost employee’s individual self-confidence and keep them excited about delivering value to others – which is Jackrabbit’s goal at its most basic level.
So the question was – how could we offer this to our employees?
With the help of our HR Director, I identified an online network of learning curriculum with an incredibly diverse topic list. The “video courses” offer everything from developing healthy work habits to improving Excel skills. They also transfer an amazing amount of knowledge in short doses.
We branded the learning portal “Jackrabbit U”. We send out fun, attention-grabbing emails to alert employees to new content and launches contest to boost use. We’re excited about this because “Jackrabbit U” puts content at employees fingertips 24/7. They can take in videos if they are at their desks, waiting on a flight or sitting in the carpool line. The contests actually create a frenzy around learning since the entire team is really competitive.
Jackrabbit U fits beautifully with our virtual workplace model. The learning has to be web-based so it is accessible to everyone around the company’s headquarters in Charlotte and across North America in Boston, Columbus and Vancouver. HR also leverages the online model to perform HR training – virtually onboarding new employees.
The quality of content is fantastic. Our employees have access to the same level of content as much larger companies. Accessing content like this individually would be expensive – but it is an investment we want to make. Offering this sets us apart and it’s instrumental in reducing employee turnover and producing a more productive, cohesive and engaged team.
Jackrabbit’s most virtual employees get a feeling of team cohesiveness from the program. I’ve learned that many begin with topics specific to their job areas but move on to other topic areas because doing that helps them learn more about what their co-workers do. They also expand to learning topics that support personal improvement.
The content is presented in helpful ways – sharing both sides of scenarios or using vivid illustrations to drive points home. The Telephone Doctor, for example, is one of our support team’s favorites because it provides insight into how the team might be perceived by clients. I think that is just awesome.
I’ve been thanked repeatedly because employees see this as a commitment to furthering each employee’s personal growth. And it is true because we do truly care about each of our team members and are thrilled that we’ve found a means for them to further educate themselves on topics they are interested in.
But I won’t deny that it is also a big win for Jackrabbit because it creates better, more productive, loyal and passionate employees.
Our team remains close and engaged with each other, even as the company grows. The lifelong learning shows employees their value to the company and inspires them to set their own course for continuous learning, continuous self-improvement and a greater level of personal investment in the company’s success.
Mark has been involved in organized youth sports since 1973 and in computer technology for 22 years. He has instructed and coached young athletes and owned sports facilities. Mark developed a class management system in the 80s and sold it to another company. The tremendous interest in the development of an online system by a large number of previous clients inspired Mark and his partner, Mike Carper, to cofound Jackrabbit which celebrated its 10th year of service to class-based businesses in 2014.