Established in 1946, CH2M HILL is an employee-owned, $4.5 billion global company in the full-service engineering industry. Throughout its history, it has experienced significant sustained growth in both its revenue and workforce. Today, more than 19,000 employees work for the firm, with more than 240 offices around the world.
How does a company continue to grow so significantly and still have the skilled workforce necessary in the competitive, knowledge-based engineering services industry?
For CH2M HILL, employee development is part of the culture that attracts new employees and differentiates it. Gary Landrum, manager of enterprise learning, said the mission of the learning and organization development group is to enable enterprise excellence by growing the people who grow CH2M HILL.
“We have tremendous support for employee development at every level of the firm,” Landrum said. “As a result, we are able to provide our employees with a wide variety of learning and development opportunities at every stage of their careers. These opportunities include learning programs that are being designed for college interns, competency-based career development frameworks for more experienced employees who are choosing their primary career path and employee development programs that support our leadership development pipeline.
“In addition, hundreds of webinars are offered each year, where senior technology leaders share their expertise with other employees. We also provide more than 60 core courses in categories such as management and leadership development, project delivery, construction management, technology and business development. The firm was founded with a heavy emphasis on lifelong learning and mentoring, and we continue that tradition today.”
Landrum said CH2M HILL builds this high-impact portfolio of learning programs annually, and the process starts in June with a learning-needs assessment that identifies the employee development and training needed to support the firm’s strategic plan. This gives CH2M its aggregate pool of potential training programs.
From there, the learning and development department evaluates programs based on several criteria. First and most important is alignment with and support of the company’s business objectives. Other criteria CH2M looks at include the potential impact of each program, audience size and the breadth and sustainability of the training.
All programs are carefully evaluated using an online course evaluation and follow-up evaluation process, which enables CH2M to identify the potential positive financial impact courses might have on business.
Another critical element of the program is the CH2M HILL enterprise learning steering committee, which is made up of representatives from each of CH2M’s 12 business groups, as well as regional operations and other functional areas within the company.
“This group helps set priorities for the annual learning budget and determines course delivery frequency,” Landrum said. “Having input from across the firm gives us a balanced perspective on the value of our training projects and helps us provide training that has the greatest business impact.”
CH2M HILL’s learning program operates in both a centralized and decentralized manner. The enterprise learning and organization development department identifies and delivers employee development programs that have enterprisewide, cross-group impact.
Front-line leadership, business development and project delivery courses are good examples. Technical training that is specific to an individual business unit or engineering discipline typically is developed and delivered by the subject-matter experts in the business units.
“Many of our leaders are recognized experts in their field, with experience teaching at both the corporate and university level,” Landrum said. “This allows our younger engineers the opportunity to learn from the best, and it also helps us attract the best college graduates to meet the growing demand for engineering expertise around the world.”
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