No business can be successful without acquiring, engaging and developing talented people committed to their work.
Matthew Hirst, senior director of organizational development, talent and learning at GameStop, is responsible for the acquisition and ongoing development of a 25,000-member workforce at a company that puts a premium on employee enrichment and retention.
The Human Equation
GameStop has always been an organization focused on relationships and results, which late CEO Paul Raines described as “protect the family.” GameStop values its relationships with employees, customers and vendors across the organization that contribute to success. “We build businesses and people,” Hirst says. “We also help our people find purpose, balance, and growth.”
GameStop leaders at all levels know employees have specific life goals and need to be supported in achieving them. “I think it’s critical for people within an organization to believe it has their back when it comes to investing in them, their future and their families,” Hirst says. “What’s most important, though, is that GameStop employees realize the company is invested in them for the long haul. Whether they’re thinking about buying a house or having children, the practical things people aspire to do, folks want to be part of an organizational community in which they feel like valued members with a future.”
GameStop is very committed to diversity and inclusion, educational/career mapping, and overall talent strategies. “We want every person to feel like they are part of something remarkable and part of a corporate family as they build their own family and work to achieve their career goals,” says Hirst, who has partnered with DeVry University’s DeVryWORKS program to do just that. DeVryWORKS is DeVry’s B-to-B arm and works with corporate clients to help them understand their training and development needs. Then, they create solutions to help acquire and retain strong talent, plan for succession, and close the skills gap. “DeVry works closely with us, not just as an educational consultant, but as a business consultant. They work to understand how we connect talent strategy to business goals and provide consultative support,” Hirst says.
How DeVryWORKS Works With GameStop
DeVryWORKS puts a number of tools in the hands of Hirst and GameStop: Among them, DeVry University’s certification and degree programs, academic progress, tuition benefits, and ease of enrollment. Information regarding the content and application of those and many others is administered via strategic, problem-solving account executives dedicated to each client.
DeVryWORKS helps prop up, reinforce, and amplify that “We believe in you!” message to GameStop employees by supporting Hirst in his endeavors. “We want to help grow their career, provide them timely resources helping with real, practical business problems they’re dealing with on a daily basis,” Hirst says. “DeVry has been a creative and willing partner in helping us reinforce our mission of caring about our people.”
The team assessed GameStop’s then-current educational offerings and customized them to fit the jobs workers were looking to fill in coming years. “From my perspective, the focus of a DeVry education is on employers. We are a career-oriented school and the ultimate consumer is the employer, the one hiring the students,” says DeVryWORKS Vice President Joe Mozden. “Who better to let us know what students need to be prepared?” Mozden also points out that by bringing employers into the loop, there is constant improvement built into the education process.
GameStop has worked with DeVryWORKS to build capability in other areas and to find creative ways to assist employees in identifying their career path and career mapping, a process to which Hirst says he and GameStop apply a forward-looking approach.
Traditionally, sitting down with human resources to help plan a career path includes poring over an organizational chart to see how many spaces on the chart you have to move over and up, as well as what you need to know and do to get there. Hirst prefers querying employees as to their own preferences. What type of work do they enjoy the most? Analytical? Operational? Creative? Administrative? Whatever the answer, the point is to find talent and put it where it’s most likely to thrive and pay dividends to the enterprise.
“In many organizations someone has to resign or leave for an employee to grow and do larger, more sophisticated work,” Hirst says. He and other GameStop leaders prefer a different, more inclusive path. “If I know what type of work you love to do and what kind of work gives you energy and fuels your passion, I can find comparable types of work in any part of the organization. Now, instead of having a very narrow and limited career path, you have multiple ways to grow your career.”
A True Partnership: GameStop & DeVry
When GameStop began working with DeVry, it was dealing with high turnover rates in its IT department, which is not uncommon in the industry. As with certain other professions, like nursing, demand for good candidates often spurs greater job movement. Thus, offering career-elevating and personally satisfying perks like subsidized and supported academic pursuits can be very beneficial.
“DeVry has historically had a technical direction and an emphasis on IT. We wanted to take advantage of that expertise,” Hirst says. “Most IT professionals want to learn and grow within an organization, so we wanted a partner to help with career mapping and planning for our IT professionals.”
Say you want to become a network architect. Hirst and the DeVryWORKS team would identify the type of education, experience and degrees/certifications necessary, then work to best position learners for success.
This is all part of the plan, says DeVryWORKS Senior Director Duane Glader. “We develop a relationship with the employer to help with recruiting and then also retention, the latter partly by providing a path to the employees’ future educational needs,” Glader says. “We’re a program solution, not a line-item solution.”
Making continuing education work for a majority of employees is important in more ways than one. While some are working toward a degree for the first time, others already have degrees and are interested in building toward an advanced degree.
One Step at a Time
Another example of the customized solutions DeVryWORKS offers clients is the approach to expanding the number of GameStop employees who may take advantage of continuing education as a job necessity and a perk. Only so many people in a given organization are going to be starting or completing a degree, but what about other employees who might also benefit somehow from such an educational partnership? At GameStop, that partnership led Hirst and the DeVryWORKS team to work toward serving the rest.
“That’s where DeVry has come up with creative ways to support that group and evangelize the value of continuous learning and development, challenging the paradigm that education has to be a degree program,” Hirst says. “It’s really the personal pursuit of continuous improvement so you can be a more effective contributor to your organization a couple months from now, as compared to a year from now. I think that’s where DeVry has a real passion, making it convenient to complete an education, and asking, ‘What about the other folks you have, how can we help them?’”
Maybe they’ve completed degrees, or not. Maybe they want to have coaching conversations to figure out their career path, alleviating uncertainty and possibly overcoming other struggles. “They may feel like education is out of their reach, so we’re removing that daunting feeling of having a mountain to climb by teaching them to learn successfully,” Mozden says. “DeVryWORKS can help pull them down the path toward a degree in small, incremental steps, creating people who are confident they can do it.”
It All Comes Back to Talent
When it comes to finding the right person for the right job, it’s important to settle on either sourcing or development. A DeVryWORKS partnership will often entail both, but one will tend to take emphasis over the other based on answers to previous questions. Among the most significant responsibilities of a leader is to ensure they source, develop, engage, and retain the top talent they need to remain successful. In order to weight the scales well toward success, GameStop is doing just that.
“My job is to help guide this organization through those questions and bring the talent strategy together,” Hirst says. That entails finding, developing and engaging the necessary talent to allow GameStop to achieve goals based on its success metrics, or progress grinds to a halt. “Without that talent to execute the plan, it will fail.”
DeVryWORKS: Interested in exploring a partnership with DeVryWORKS for Talent Development, Skills Gap Training and Talent Acquisition for your organization? Let us help you build a brilliant workforce with workforce solutions to attract, acquire and develop the leaders of tomorrow. Please click on https://devryworks.devry.edu/ for more information.