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6 min read

What is the business case for career advancement?

What is the business case for career advancement?

In this blog series, Arthur Ransier, Director of Business Strategy at nTech Workforce, explores the transformative impact of career advancement. 

Beyond his work at nTech, Arthur has always felt a deep connection to the intersection of economic opportunity and the power of work. As a board member at Byte Back and Economic Opportunity Fellow of the Aspen Institute, he continues to dedicate his career to bridging the gap between potential and opportunity. Arthur is a Certified Contingent Workforce Specialist (CCWP) and Senior Professional in Human Resources® (SPHR®). 

Join us as we delve into the business case, metrics, employee engagement, real-world examples, and actionable steps to unlock human potential and drive economic prosperity.

“Imagine a world where investing in your workforce yields significant financial rewards, reduces employee turnover, and boosts engagement. This is the reality when businesses prioritize career advancement,” Ransier says. Read on for the compelling business case for nurturing and empowering your most valuable assets – your employees. We'll explore how investing in their growth translates to tangible benefits for your bottom line, creating a win-win situation for both individuals and organizations.

 

How can investing in career advancement programs benefit businesses financially?

 

Investing in career advancement programs isn't just about doing the right thing; it's about making a smart business decision with clear financial benefits. Ransier lays out just how you might benefit financially from the right employee development programs:

  • Reduced Operating Expenses: Internally developed talent saves on recruitment and onboarding costs, whether hiring is done internally by a dedicated Talent Acquisition team or externally by a staffing or recruiting company. This includes advertising, agency fees, training new employees, lost productivity during the transition, and time to market. Investing in existing employees who are already familiar with the company culture and operations leads to smoother transitions and greater return on investment.
  • Improved Employee Retention: When employees feel valued and see clear growth opportunities within their company, they're more likely to stay. This reduces costly turnover, which drains resources and disrupts operations.
  • Increased Productivity and Performance: Employees who are invested in their own growth are more engaged and motivated, leading to increased productivity and improved performance. This translates to higher output, better quality work, and ultimately, increased profits for businesses. A 2023 meta-analysis on the case for good jobs by the Center for American Progress reveals that “job training opportunities and better working conditions increases worker productivity and decreases turnover.”
  • Enhanced Innovation and Problem-Solving: Ransier says, “When businesses invest in their employees' skills and knowledge, they foster a culture of innovation and creativity. This leads to improved problem-solving, better decision-making, and the development of new ideas that can drive business growth.”
  • Attract and Retain Top Talent: By offering attractive career advancement programs, businesses can attract and retain top talent in a competitive market. This allows them to build a strong and stable workforce with the skills and expertise needed to succeed in the long term.
  • Enhanced Brand Reputation: By investing in their employees' well-being and career development, businesses demonstrate a commitment to social responsibility and ethical practices. This strengthens their brand and attracts customers with shared values.
  • Reduced Government Spending: When businesses invest in their workforce, they contribute to a more skilled and employable population, which benefits all parts of the workforce ecosystem and improves the financial security of communities.

By taking a proactive approach to employee development, businesses can create a win-win situation where both the organization and its employees thrive.

 

What are the key metrics used to measure the ROI of career advancement initiatives?

 

Quantifying the return on investment (ROI) of career advancement initiatives goes beyond financial gains. While financial metrics like increased revenue and profitability are important, they only tell part of the story. A holistic approach requires considering the long-term viability of your business, which demands consideration of macro impact, agility, and diversity. Here are some key metrics Ransier recommends that you consider:

Financial Metrics

  • Revenue: Track changes in revenue generated by employees who participated in career advancement programs. This may involve comparing revenue generated before and after program participation or comparing similar groups of employees with and without access to such programs.
  • Profitability: Measure the net income increase attributed to improved employee performance and cost savings from increased retention and internal talent development.
  • Operating Expenses: Track the decrease in recruitment and onboarding costs associated with external hires due to increased internal promotions and talent development.

Performance Metrics

  • Efficiency: Measure changes in individual and team productivity and efficiency, including output, quality of work, and time spent on tasks.
  • Problem-Solving: Assess the number of new ideas generated and successful implementation within the organization. Measure the ability of the workforce to adapt to changing market conditions and technological advancements.
  • Employee Development: Track the acquisition of new skills and knowledge by employees through training and development programs, and their application to real-world projects.
  • Customer Satisfaction: Monitor changes in customer satisfaction levels, which are attributed to employee performance and skills gained through career advancement programs.

Resilience and Long-Term Viability Metrics

  • Talent Pipeline: Assess the depth and diversity of talent within the organization and its preparedness for future needs. Monitor the increase in the percentage of diverse candidates hired and promoted into leadership positions.
  • Employee Net Promoter Score: Measure employee willingness to recommend the company as a great place to work, reflecting overall satisfaction with career development opportunities.
  • Employee Engagement: Conduct surveys to measure employee satisfaction with career development opportunities and their overall engagement within the company. Track the percentage of employees who remain with the company after participating in career advancement programs.

Companies gain a comprehensive understanding of the true ROI of career advancement initiatives by looking beyond quarterly performance. This allows you to refine your programs, maximize impact, and reap the benefits of a talented, diverse, and engaged workforce that drives long-term performance and sustainability.

 

How does career advancement contribute to employee retention and engagement?

 

The workforce is not only an organizations greatest asset but the cornerstone of success. A thriving workforce is the backbone of any successful organization. Investing in career advancement programs isn't just a good deed; it's a strategic investment that demonstrably improves employee retention and engagement.

  • Increased Employee Satisfaction and Motivation: “When employees see clear pathways for growth within their company, they feel valued and invested in their future,” Ransier claims. This leads to increased satisfaction, motivation, and a sense of belonging to the organization. A 2017 LinkedIn study found that 94% of employees would stay longer at a company that invests in their career development.
  • Enhanced Skills and Expertise: Investing in employee development through training, mentorship, and skill-building programs equips them with the necessary skills and knowledge to excel in their roles and take on greater responsibilities. This not only benefits the individual but also strengthens the overall capabilities of the organization.
  • Improved Decision-Making: As employees develop their skills and expertise, they become more confident and capable of making informed decisions and solving complex problems. This empowers them to take ownership of their work and contribute more effectively to the team's success.
  • Stronger Talent Acquisition: Companies with well-established career advancement programs attract and retain top talent. A survey by Glassdoor found that job seekers strongly consider career development opportunities when evaluating job offers.
  • Increased Collaboration: When employees feel supported and valued, they collaborate openly and share ideas. This leads to a more innovative and creative work environment, fostering the development of new solutions and strategies for business growth.
  • Positive Workplace Culture: A strong culture of learning and development fosters a positive and supportive work environment where employees feel encouraged to learn, grow, and contribute to the team's success. 

By investing in career advancement programs, companies reap the benefits of a loyal, engaged, and high-performing workforce. These benefits translate to increased productivity, improved decision-making, enhanced innovation, and ultimately, long-term organizational success.

 

What are some real-world examples of businesses that have successfully implemented career advancement programs and reaped the benefits?

 

Don’t only take it from Ransier, who says, “Investing in career advancement isn't just theoretical; it's a strategy many of the highest-performing companies in the world have successfully implemented and executed to unlock employee potential and drive business growth.” Here are some examples:

  • Toyota: This global automotive leader boasts a renowned apprenticeship program that combines classroom learning with on-the-job training. This program has contributed to Toyota's reputation for quality, innovation, and employee loyalty. In 2022, Toyota announced a $100 million investment in their apprenticeship program, further demonstrating their commitment to developing their workforce.
  • Starbucks: This coffee giant launched the Starbucks College Achievement Plan in 2014, partnering with Arizona State University to offer a full-tuition online degree program to eligible employees. The program has seen incredible success, with over 10,000 employees graduating and many advancing their careers within Starbucks. This initiative has attracted top talent and fostered a culture of learning and development within the company.
  • IBM: This technology giant has a long history of investing in its workforce through training and development programs. IBM's apprenticeship program provides employees with access to over 25 registered apprenticeships and opportunities to acquire new skills relevant to emerging technologies. This proactive approach has helped IBM stay competitive in the rapidly changing technology landscape while fostering a culture of continuous learning within the organization.
  • CVS Health: This healthcare company has partnered with community colleges across the United States to offer registered apprenticeships in pharmacy technician and other healthcare-related fields. This program provides individuals with paid on-the-job training and a pathway to well-paying careers without the burden of student debt. These efforts have helped address the shortage of skilled healthcare workers while providing career opportunities for individuals from diverse backgrounds.

These examples demonstrate the diverse ways companies are implementing career advancement programs and reaping the benefits. From registered apprenticeships to tuition reimbursement programs, these initiatives are not only enriching individual lives but also contributing to the success and sustainability of organizations. By prioritizing career development, businesses can unlock their full potential and drive positive change in the workforce.

 

Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

 

We noticed in 2020 that the contingent workforce, representing at least 30% of the workforce, has been excluded from traditional “workforce development” opportunities. Considering our relationships, position, and access to jobs, we launched LEVEL-UP – like apprenticeships for outsourcing – to increase the quality and efficiency of hiring for frontline workers, while forging a reliable and adaptable talent pipeline for niche jobs in alignment with strategic workforce planning. 

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