Go Ahead, Learn Something: How Help Scout Empowers Employee Growth

If you had the time and support to learn something new, develop a skill, and grow in your career in a fulfilling way, what would you do?

Is there a book you just haven’t had the time to read? An online course you’ve bookmarked but keep putting off because, well, time? A conference you’re dying to go to but, again, time (and maybe the price tag)? For so many of us, creating time and space — and finding funding — to learn and grow can seem out of reach. But it shouldn’t be.

Research into the benefits of lifelong learning provides pretty compelling reasons to stay intellectually curious — to read that book, take that class, and connect with others in your field to flex your mental muscles. Learning new things can support mental health, create and nurture social connections, boost professional fulfillment, and support career goals. 

While the last benefit on that list may seem obvious, until recently, professional development was considered a nice-to-have bonus or relegated to necessary training or onboarding at many businesses. But the momentum to promote and enhance learning as a benefit is ramping up. Companies of all sizes and across all industries are listening to job seekers and current employees, who are making it clear that a company’s commitment to their development is a key factor in accepting — and staying in — a job. 

Investing in learning is a no-brainer

“A learning and development program is a need-to-have for companies of pretty much any size today,” said Carrie Tassin, VP of total rewards and people operations at Help Scout. And, for a values-driven company like Help Scout, the “why” is pretty simple. Carrie noted: “It's important for us to provide opportunities for growth and development because it matters to the folks on our team and to prospective employees. People really want to work for companies that invest in and genuinely care about their growth.” 

None of this is breaking news to Help Scout, which has been dedicated to team members’ development through the company’s Learn Something stipend since 2015. The annual stipend, available to all employees after six months of employment, can be used for any learning opportunity. As the internal description of the stipend notes, this might include products, services, and experiences, like “conferences (including related travel expenses), online courses, seminars, and books.” Or, it could mean something less tangible: “Alternatively, if you need a day off to do some reading or study a new skill using resources you already have — things that cost time but not necessarily money. Those count too.” 

People really want to work for companies that invest in and genuinely care about their growth. 

Carrie Tassin
Carrie Tassin

VP of total rewards and people operations

Sounds pretty great, right? But do people actually use the stipend? And is it really that flexible and easy to use? What are folks learning, and how does it help them grow personally and professionally? Read on to hear more from Help Scout employees who are using the Learn Something stipend and thriving as lifelong learners.

Learning happens everywhere: Books, events, and online training 

For technical support specialist Chrissy Chavez, professional development opportunities in the past generally required a lot of prioritizing — choosing one over the other or weighing which option would fit in a limited window of time and space around her work day. The Learn Something stipend has opened up both the range of learning opportunities and the time she needs to dig into development. 

Chrissy uses a portion of the stipend each year for books, relishing the fact that she can truly indulge her curiosity and desire to grow by buying all the titles that spark her interest. “The opportunity to purchase any book I want to learn from feels so freeing,” she said. Also freeing: The option to travel to in-person professional events. “I’m using the stipend to go to the Elevate CX Conference this year, which I’m super excited about. Living in Hawaii, the cost of travel would normally be prohibitive for me to attend events, so the stipend opens up an entirely new category of learning opportunities and the chance to connect with other folks,” she said.

The opportunity to purchase any book I want to learn from feels so freeing.

Chrissy Chavez
Chrissy Chavez

Technical Support Specialist

Pilar Garcia, cloud security and data privacy lead at Help Scout, also appreciates the chance to travel to professional gatherings. She used the Learn Something stipend to attend two conferences last year. “One event was more academic, where I got to learn about the most recent formal research around making privacy and security usable and approachable, and the other was focused on the current industry,” she said. Both offered the opportunity to connect with other privacy and security professionals, which, she said, “is incredibly valuable — especially because I'm currently a department of one. To share with others what we've tried, describe how that has worked, and hear from them about their own efforts was so helpful,” she said. 

To share with others what we've tried, describe how that has worked, and hear from them about their own efforts was so helpful.

Pilar Garcia
Pilar Garcia

Cloud Security and Data Privacy Lead

There’s no question that the learning, connections, and insight available through books, training, and events goes a long way to support growth and learning. But what really sets the Help Scout policy apart is the time and the support from the company and team to make it happen. While every employee can request time throughout the year to dedicate to learning, some teams within the company dedicate specific blocks of time for development.

For Chrissy, who is in the support queue every day as a member of the customers team, the team’s monthly “Learn Something Day” offers welcome, dedicated time to step out of the queue and commit to development. “Right now I’m spending those days taking a JavaScript course and working on other projects,” she said. “It is so helpful to be given the time and space to flex some different brain muscles.”

Values — and feeling valued — are at the heart of Help Scout’s commitment to development

Like Chrissy, Help Scout account executive Haley Plasman had been happy to use a portion of the stipend on books and training courses to boost her knowledge and skills. But this year, she’s digging in deeper, opting to use the stipend on one-on-one coaching. “I’m hoping to improve my time management for work-life harmony since I had a baby in May and am learning to balance all my obligations,” she said. “I also want to learn to prioritize my tasks to make sure that I’m hitting my most important items for revenue generation and efficiency in my role and learn to set appropriate boundaries.”

While Haley has had an interest in coaching in the past, she had never considered it an option given the cost and time commitment. When her manager suggested it to her last year, she was grateful for the nudge and the support to make use of the stipend. “My manager encouraged me to use the benefit because it would ultimately make me more effective in my role. It was really affirming to be reminded that Help Scout wants to invest in me and help me grow personally and professionally,” Haley said. “It also warmed my heart that my manager was looking out for me and encouraged me to take advantage of a perk.” 

It was really affirming to be reminded that Help Scout wants to invest in me and help me grow personally and professionally.

Haley Plasman
Haley Plasman

Account Executive

Account executive Anthony Gass has also used the Learn Something stipend for training and leadership development. “I took a Winning by Design course focused on manager training, and I came away with really helpful insights into how to create collaborative learning environments and why it’s important that management goes beyond just deal status updates,” he said. The course content supported his recent promotion, he added, and “made me measurably better at my job.”

While training and development opportunities are invaluable for individuals and for the company, the people-first approach at the core of the stipend is, for many who use it, the biggest takeaway. As Anthony shared, “The Learn Something stipend reminds me that Help Scout is not only invested in me as an employee and the results I can deliver to the company, but also in my broader professional career and the professional goals that I want to achieve. I think Help Scout leaders have the self-awareness and humility to know that it’s good to learn from external folks as well as via internal coaching.”

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