Proving the ROI of workplace education
As the largest protein company in the United States, Tyson Foods employs more than 122,000 people, many of whom are immigrants or new Americans. Language and cultural barriers, along with varying levels of education and limited access to social resources, have created challenges at home and at work for some of their team members – things like opening a bank account or filling out a form.
To address some of these challenges, in 2016 Tyson partnered with adult education providers and nonprofits to launch a workplace education pilot in two plants near their corporate headquarters in Springdale, Arkansas. This pilot offered team members free access to classes in English, high school equivalency, U.S. citizenship, and training on other life skills.
Initially expecting a small percentage of workers to enroll, they were surprised when nearly half the workforce signed up for the program at one of the pilot locations.
Those who enrolled reported the classes allowed them to more fully participate at work, home and in the community. Upon seeing the success of the pilot, Tyson formalized it into a workplace education program called Upward Academy and is now offering the program in 36 locations in 7 states. In partnership with FSG’s Talent Rewire Innovation Lab and the ROI Institute, Tyson discovered Upward Academy is producing a 123% ROI in terms of employee retention.
FSG helped us articulate the business value of our program while never asking us to compromise on heart or passion. They prove how industry requires both for success.
What would happen in your company if you went back and had the courageous conversations? If you asked the difficult questions, if you wanted to get close enough to your workforce to understand their complexities? It's a vulnerable position to place yourself, to understand the complexities of your workforce, but that's when the best interventions come to light.