When Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska (BCBSNE) employees asked for more learning opportunities, the human resources (HR) department made it happen by expanding internal program offerings.

“In 2019, employees provided feedback through a company-wide survey,” said Liz Brumels, BCBSNE organizational development manager. “We saw a need to add to our learning and career development opportunities, which is exactly what we did by creating the LEAD and GROW programs.”

LEAD, which stands for Leadership Exploration and Development, offers quarterly education and development trainings to managers. While building the program, HR considered which skills and abilities leaders need to succeed.

“As the research will tell you, if leaders are really healthy, they have the most impact on your employees,” Brumels said. “They’re right there in the trenches with them.”

HR designed the LEAD sessions for new and seasoned managers alike. Topics include intellectual curiosity, problem solving and more. Holly Kovy, BCBSNE major accounts manager, attended a session on trust, feedback and coaching and said she found it beneficial.

“LEAD taught me the importance of feedback and coaching and provided the tools and techniques to do so effectively,” Kovy said. “As a newer leader, I appreciate the opportunities that BCBSNE provides to help me hone my skills.”

Kovy also said she enjoyed spending time with other leaders during the session and appreciates having room to grow.

“It’s important to me that I work for a company that supports my development,” Kovy said. “These opportunities help me to become a stronger leader, which allows me to bring value back into the company.”

GROW, the second learning program, is open to all employees and provides bite-sized e-learning sessions clocking in around 20 minutes a piece.

“We know our employees work hard and have very busy days,” Brumels said. “It can be difficult for people to get away from their desks and come to an in-person training, so we designed the program to offer fast, virtual sessions employees can tune into.”

GROW features two topics a month, and HR records the sessions, so employees who are unable to attend can watch them later. Topics include owning personal growth, valuing diversity of thought and building relationships and communication skills.

Makayla Redwing, a BCBSNE medical programs training documentation specialist, has attended several of the sessions and said they enabled her to quickly and easily learn new skills.

“In each session, you are asked to think about one thing you have learned that you can begin using right away,” Redwing said. “This has been really helpful in getting me to implement just one thing from each session into my current role.”

She has also enjoyed attending the sessions.

“They have been engaging and interactive,” Redwing said. “It’s definitely worth your time to attend.”

Overall, Brumels said implementing GROW and LEAD enables the company to meet employees’ needs and grow internal talent.

“We know that we have amazing people in our building,” Brumels said. “It’s our responsibility as an organization to grow that talent. We get better as an organization when we give people an opportunity to learn and try new things, and it makes our teams stronger.”

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