Published on 2014/07/31

Talent Education and Development: Four Ways to Connect ROP and ROI for C-Suite Audiences (Part 2)

Talent Education and Development: Four Ways to Connect ROP and ROI for C-Suite Audiences (Part 2)
A long-term partnership between a higher education institution and an employer demands that the institution be attuned to the needs of their corporate client and constantly be evolving their product.
In the first article of this two-part series, Maldonado discussed a trend in the corporate space that’s seeing employers dedicate more funds to employee development. She also outlined the first of her four strategies geared toward helping higher education institutions better interact with potential corporate clients and help them connect their understanding of return on investment (ROI) to a return on people (ROP); ensuring that administrators speak the language of their customer. In this conclusion, Maldonado outlines her remaining three points.

2. Data May Be King, But What Exactly Are The KPIs for ROP?

Many organizations measure the value of their talent investment by considering the following key performance indicators (KPIs):

  • Enhanced employee engagement, retention and performance;

  • Strengthened leadership pipeline and identification of top talent;

  • Increased organizational agility and efficiencies;

  • Enhanced risk mitigation;

  • Increased revenue generation and market share;

  • Training and development cost savings;

  • Academic resources (at course, certificate and degree levels) that align with the organization’s mission and are tied to employee’s role and function; and

  • Direct integration of talent development projects within hiring and on-boarding practices as well as daily work assignments that support broader organizational strategies and objectives.

Speaking of connecting the dots to show bottom-line success, the above statistics raise another important point. For many, part of the challenge with determining ROP has been a historical failure to effectively address talent engagement and culture formation issues. In fact, Gallup’s 2013 “State of the Workplace” study reported that more than 85 percent of worldwide employees (71 percent for U.S. workers) are disengaged in the workplace, while the 2013 Adecco Staffing U.S. Report found that 44 percent of senior executives surveyed indicated that soft skills make up the largest competency gap among American workers.

Arguably, there are many complex and moving parts to assessing the ROP. However, these recent studies show that talent engagement, key skillsets and organizational culture play a critical role in producing the revenue streams and other results senior leaders seek. That means any measurement system must adopt an integrative approach to various forms and types of KPIs — e.g., including soft skills such as emotional intelligence, integrity, accountability, etc. — to bring about holistic and sustainable performance results. For a quick way to measure your ROP quotient, Laurie Bassi and Daniel McMurrer offer an interesting assessment framework in their Harvard Business Review Article, Maximizing Your Return on People.

3. Collaborate, Collaborate, Collaborate: Alliances Are Key

Everyone knows alliances are key to getting things done across matrixed organizations. The trick is to make sure you define an “ally” broadly enough to capture even your most critical opponents and not simply your friends and supporters.

Collaboration with a cohort of allies, who offer a diversity of thought, helps ensure your strategies are well thought out, analyzed and executed in a way that intelligently addresses the needs and outcomes of the organization as well as the teams that will be impacted. Without a diverse ally pool, plans often fail during implementation — or don’t make it to the implementation stage at all. Showing a positive ROP is based, in large part, on the existence and demonstration of key collaboration and alliances.

4. Continuously Assess, Fine Tune and Evolve

There are many organizations we can look to that are educating their employees through key academic resources and making the connection to their bottom line and the health and wellbeing of their people, such as Proctor & Gamble, Google, Dollar General, The Container Store, LinkedIn and UPS, among others. Those that are doing this in a sustainable manner keep one golden rule in mind: to maintain competitiveness, they must continuously assess, improve and evolve their people, processes and strategies through relevant academic resources, formal and informal learning opportunities, training, etc.  They know there is no single or final ROP destination. Once you achieve your goal, there’s always more.

A research paper investigating employer perceptions of continuing higher education

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Readers Comments

John Edwards 2014/07/31 at 1:44 pm

Great follow-up to the last piece about ROP. I’m curious about the part about fine-tuning and regularly assessing/evaluating. What are some of the indicators you use for that? What is the process for suggesting changes and how formalized is it?

Interested in reading other people’s thoughts.

Nancy Rodriguez 2014/07/31 at 3:33 pm

Interesting conclusion to this series examining ROP and the new realities of the workplace. Regarding Maldonado’s point about the need for institutions to evolve their product offerings for business, I would add that it’s not so much the product that has to change but the format in which it’s delivered. There have been innovative efforts by many institutions to offer job-site training or hybrid learning for employees. We’ve also heard about high-profile MOOC partnerships recently. There’s a lot that can be done to grow this field for the benefit of the institution and employer.

John Saunders 2014/08/01 at 9:28 am

There needs to be commitment at the upper levels of an organization to make lifelong learning and skills development a part of its organizational culture. I wonder if institutions have a role to play in helping to develop this as they partner with organizations to deliver training. Something to think about.

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