Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go: The ROI of Conversations at Work

When I read a list of tips from Beverly Kaye's and Julie Winkle Giulioni's Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go: Career Conversations Employees Want, I wondered about the Return on Investment, the ROI, of following these tips vs. the ROI of just doing the work.  Who has time to "Just talk with people"? 

As a business owner, I need to be convinced that the time I take to talk to people will produce more revenue – and therefore guarantee my employees their salaries – than if I and they just buckle down and get the job done.  Intuitively, I believe the authors' tips have merit, but I need to know the numbers in order to be convinced.

I asked Beverly Kaye and Julie Winkle Giulioni about the ROI of employer-employee conversations and they kindly answered:

Beverly Kaye and Julie Winkle GiulioniThanks for the question/challenge.  It's a good one.  While we're not aware of any formal scientific studies that compare the two approaches and then correlate them to sales, there is a research-based breadcrumb trail that may answer your concern.

We know that employee engagement translates into a range of bottom-line results (see this Fierce, Inc. report addresses the connection).

And, we know that there is a clear relationship between career development and employee engagement.  (Employee Engagement Report 2011 Blessing White Research….Beyond the numbers: A practical approach for individuals, managers and executives.) This study conclusively shows that career development and training are top drivers for global engagement. 

Extensive research tells us that employees are highly dissatisfied with the quality of their career development. A report by the conference board “Job Satisfaction” 2012 Edition suggests that only 33.5% of workers surveyed are satisfied with their potential for future growth. 

Yet, Career Systems International clients that train managers in how to conduct effective career conversations enjoy far higher than average (or pre-training) career satisfaction results. For example, a technology company reported increased retention and engagement after experiencing engagement and career development training for managers. (For a full report, see here.) From a research standpoint, the only variable that's changed is that leaders are having the conversations.

As you mentioned in your note, there's face-value or intuitive validity to the connection between conversation and results.  The connection makes sense.  Conversation drives relationships. According to Gallup and others, relationships drive engagement and discretionary effort.  And discretionary effort drives extraordinary results. 

So, from our perspective, it all comes down to conversation.  We hope this makes some sense…and that it prompts a continuing dialogue with you. 

Thanks so much for your question,
Bev and Julie

Thank you, Bev and Julie! 

Here's more about Bev and Julie and their work at their site, Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go.

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  1. Thanks so much for the post. It’s an honor to be included and we hope the information in helpful. Career development may be the most powerful (yet underused) strategy leaders have for driving a range of results. If we can help leaders reframe their role and focus on engaging in conversation with others, we can help employees and the business grow.

    More information is available at and

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