HOW T-MOBILE REINVENTED ITS CAREER DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMS

As America's Un-carrier, T-Mobile US, Inc. (NASDAQ: "TMUS") is redefining the way consumers and businesses buy wireless services through leading product and service innovation. The company's advanced nationwide 4G LTE network delivers outstanding wireless experiences for customers who are unwilling to compromise on quality and value. Based in Bellevue, Washington, T-Mobile US, Inc. provides services through its subsidiaries and operates its flagship brands, T-Mobile, and MetroPCS.

Just as T-Mobile is innovating to bring exceptional value to its customers, their internal focus to bring value for employees is just as intense. With 55,000 employees, HR is driving career innovation to meet multiple business objectives:

  • Help reduce attrition especially for frontline care and retail. Following the leadership of their COO, they set the goal of 90% internal hires.
  • Increase career transparency so that employees and candidates at all levels can participate in a career journey at T-Mobile.

This case study represents T-Mobile's submission for i4cp's Next Practice Awards. The winners will be announced in March and will share more detail on stage at the i4cp 2018 Conference: Next Practices Now (March 26 - 29 in Scottsdale, Arizona).

Business challenge

In 2016, feedback was loud and clear—employees were unsure of their next career opportunities. The primary confusion stemmed from being unclear about what the career options were, including a lack of awareness of what types of roles exist across the organization.

In fact, T-Mobile has an outstanding track record of internal promotion and career growth for employees. But the perception, especially among frontline retail and care teams, was one of limited opportunities for promotion and career advancement. The primary business challenge/driver for this initiative was to better understand the hurdles preventing positive perception of career advancement opportunities, and to improve access to the numerous career path options that could be in an employee’s future. The end goal was to help employees understand that they can grow their careers within T-Mobile, and T-Mobile is invested in their career success.

Solution

Perception surveys and employee feedback showed a strong need to showcase the various opportunities available across T-Mobile. With more than 4,000 job titles, dozens of job families, and five different operating groups, the need implied a substantial initiative, and required participation from a broad group of functions and roles.

The solution—an intensive Career Success campaign to drive renewed focus on career success opportunities.

The concept took on a rock-star approach to the T-Mobile career experience and become known as “Mainstage Careers.” Mainstage Careers represents T-Mobile's commitment to personal growth and career success for every team member, in an energizing campaign. The campaign highlights the message that "a career at T-Mobile isn't just a job; it's an opportunity to stand in the spotlight as we revolutionize the wireless industry."

The multi-month Career Success campaign was highlighted by CareerFest, a week-long online career event available for all employees to explore career opportunities across the organization.

CareerFest was positioned as an innovative event to provide unprecedented energy and attention to the ways employees can identify options for career growth. The event provided a unique focus on careers at the Un-carrier, including activities focused on:

  • Career guidance and job exploration
  • Career growth and development
  • Chances to meet new career advocates
  • Opportunities to audition for a future job shadow experience
  • Exciting, fun ways to engage with employees across the organization

Keeping in mind that the majority T-Mobile’s frontline employees are in highly scheduled roles in retail and care, CareerFest was developed as a virtual career event to maximize the accessibility for all employees. Through the virtual platform, CareerFest offered a robust on-demand experience.

  • Role Overview Videos: CareerFest offered an innovative look at different roles by featuring employee-generated videos. These videos featured more than 70 employees sharing information about their roles, totaling over four hours of role-specific insight.
  • Career Advice from Leaders and Executives. In addition to these role-overview videos, CareerFest offered over 20 hours of video content featuring insight into roles, departments and career advice from leaders and executives across the organization.
  • Interactive Chat Rooms. During the five-day CareerFest event, live interactive chat rooms were available for 35 hours, led by leaders, recruiters and career development team members across the organization—available to answer any question an employee might have relative to careers in any department.
  • Dream Career Contest. A company-wide contest was hosted to further encourage employees to explore the many opportunities across the enterprise. As employees found a role that piqued their interest, they would record a video of themselves "auditioning" for their dream career. Ten winners would gain the opportunity to travel to experience the role first-hand and network with employees and leaders of their dream career. 

Results

  • Leading into the event, a goal was set for employee participation. After the event, results exceeded the participation goal by 20%. Some of the most impressive outcomes from CareerFest were:
  • Over 9,000 employees attended the inaugural CareerFest event
  • 82% of attendees were entry- or mid-level individual contributors
  • 65% attended CareerFest with the goal of learning about careers in other departments
  • 56% were looking for career advice
  • 38 Dream Career Contest submissions
  • 10 Dream Career Contest winners were selected for on-site job shadows
  • CareerFest participants applied for other internal roles at a significantly higher rate than non-participants
  • Retail & Direct employees who participated in CareerFest applied for other internal roles (28% vs. 13%) and experienced growth moves (7% vs. 4%) at a significantly higher rate than non-participants.
  • 87% of respondents found the online platform easy to use and navigate
  • 82% of respondents were entry or mid-level individual contributors
  • Return on Investment: CareerFest touched a huge chunk of our employee base, with a very minimal cost of $1.86 per attendee.

Conclusion

CareerFest was a huge success, significantly surpassing the attendance goal and revolutionizing what companies have previously known as a “career fair” event. Feedback showed that dedicating specific days to career success and exploration renewed the energy our employees have around their future with T-Mobile. Results include increased social media views, leading to improved brand perceptions; improved employee perceptions related to career growth and opportunities; decreased attrition and increased productivity; and better talent conversations, resulting in improved talent agility to meet business demands.

The inaugural 2017 CareerFest event intentionally limited role representation to high-volume or common internal transfer roles. For the future, T-Mobile is looking to host events where employees get exposure to a broader variety of roles and a more comprehensive picture of potential career options. They are also looking to expand the career path process, including but not limited to assessment of skills and competency gaps, development opportunities to close those gaps, and cultural shifts to encourage leaders to take risks on cross-functional talent moves.