For our next installment of “Pennrose Pillars,” we sat down with Michael Pico, Chief Human Resources Officer. We spoke with Michael about our award-winning training program and why employee development is a top priority at Pennrose.

Has employee training always been important to the Pennrose mission?

Absolutely. The focus on professional development primarily comes from the support and buy-in from company leadership. They are truly invested in the development of employees and see why it’s valuable. After all, our employees are the foundation of our mission to transform communities. We want to support them however possible so they can excel and grow in both their professional and personal lives.

In addition, our commitment and continued investment in employees has positively impacted attracting and retaining top talent even in tough job markets. This has been evidenced through Learning and Employee Development’s role in achieving business results and positive employee feedback. Notably, we were named by the Philadelphia Business Journal as a 2017 and 2018 “Best Places to Work” based on private employee feedback.

Can you tell us what makes Pennrose’s training program unique?

At Pennrose, we pride ourselves on our innovative, impactful and business-focused learning practices. Pennrose Academy has continued to grow and evolve over the years with new curriculum and offerings, but one of the biggest advances we made recently was directly aligning the training program to the strategic objectives of the organization. This really sets us apart as an industry leader in learning and employee development.

We wanted to ensure that each program is connected to at least one of our key organizational goals. This allows us to better showcase return on investment and value, while also ensuring our employees are receiving training that is impactful and meaningful to them. The key to successfully aligning training programs with strategic objectives is identifying the measurement and goals of the curriculum in advance. Another important component is employee engagement. While we want to focus on accomplishing business goals, keeping our employees engaged throughout the process is critical.

Can you name a few strengths of the training program?

We invest heavily in technology and have a robust platform. However, if you leave people untrained, the technology can easily fall by the wayside. There needs to be an equal emphasis on both leadership and technology training. Because both are extremely important, we also always look to ensure the same standards are applied and we have excellent trainers.

Over the past two years, we have really built out and created an advanced leadership curriculum. The program includes both front line and senior leadership workshops as well as high potential succession planning.

You mentioned senior leadership. Are there different training programs for different staff and management?

We’re particularly proud of our program because all employees have individual development plans by role. The plans provide them with a training roadmap beginning at onboarding and continuing for multiple years. All employees are required to take relevant curriculum and it is tied into our evaluation and bonus structure. Aside from the performance management plan described above, we also work closely with individuals on personal development plans based on their needs and goals.

How do employees complete the curriculum? Is there online training?

Yes, Pennrose offers several eLearning platforms: Yardi Voyager, Grace Hill, and webinars. We provide hundreds of courses available to any employee, regardless of tenure or job function and provide online tools rather than requiring employees to travel. Because technology is always evolving, we are consistently implementing new technology products and initiatives to help employees be more productive.

The Pennrose Academy training program was recently recognized by Training magazine in their 2019 Training Top 125 Awards. Read more about the honor here.

The Pennrose mission is to create high-quality, affordable housing that improves lives and transforms communities for the better. Our blog series “Pennrose Pillars,” explores the guiding principles that help us achieve this goal.