How to Drive Business Success by Investing in Employees

Gerri Knilans
5 min readApr 1, 2024

Businesses that can attract, develop, and retain great employees have a distinct advantage in today’s competitive business environment. As such, when organizations invest in their workforces, they also invest in business growth. Building and fostering an employee-centric workplace can create dramatic and wide-reaching benefits for the company. These impacts include increased productivity, enhanced employee engagement, high-quality talent, reduced turnover, and a strong bottom line.

Six Best Practices for Supporting Your Workforce

Actively investing in your workforce is more important than ever as companies adapt to meet the changing needs of today’s markets. Michelle Arentz, Workforce Development Consultant and owner of Lazarus Learning, offers the strategic mantra: “The only way to achieve sustainable business growth is to fix the people problems that exist in the workplace.” Tackling these “people problems” involves following several best practices that make ongoing “people investment” an integral part of corporate culture.

1. Clearly define and communicate what “success” looks like.

Every business needs clearly defined goals as part of its strategic plan for growth. This can take the form of a company mission, vision, or strategic planning. It could also mean defining metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure success. Establishing objectives is especially important for leadership so standards can be modeled and implemented from the top. “Make sure everyone in a leadership role is held to a standard of excellence that’s clearly defined-consider it ‘the price of admission’ for being a leader in your organization.” Arentz advises. “Get everyone on the same page, regardless of how long they’ve had the title.”

2. Understand employee personalities and behaviors.

Prioritize ongoing communication, employee surveys, and research to thoroughly understand your entire workforce. It’s essential to make strategic choices that adapt to various behaviors and personalities. For example, Brady Mick is an architect, client leader, and workplace strategist who proactively designs workspaces to align with employee behaviors rather than the other way around. “Individuals transition from a fully assigned work environment to a more behaviorally focused and agile space,” writes Mick. “In this way, design value is achieved once sentiments, fears, and expectations are acknowledged and addressed.” Take the time to understand the behaviors of your workforce by communicating frequently, leveraging personality assessments, personalizing roles to their unique strengths, modifying schedules and communication styles for different daily rhythms, and adapting to technologies that match employee behaviors and preferences.

3. Make a plan to manage and embrace change.

While clearly communicating the company’s mission, vision, and strategy is essential, change is also inevitable when working toward growth. Change is a sign of improvement, but organizations need to effectively manage it to maximize benefits and ensure company-wide adoption. While top leadership drives change management, employees play a vital role in executing that plan. Matt Norman, president and CEO of Norman & Associates, a firm that offers coaching and consulting for talent strategy, personal effectiveness, planning, and goal alignment, says this starts with understanding resistance. “While different types of changes bring about different feelings and worries,” writes Norman, “it is possible to lead people effectively through change, starting with understanding the exact reasons they resist change so much.”

These reasons might include fear of uncertainty, perceiving change as a threat to security, or previous negative experiences of changes that have been poorly implemented in the past. “Unresolved feelings such as these lead to stress, which lowers morale and can result in reduced workplace performance,” according to Mick. “Once the underlying reasons for resistance to change are diagnosed, it’s possible to address that resistance effectively.”

4. Facilitate and enable frequent collaboration among teams.

Collaboration is never a given. Unless instilled from the top, it’s easy for individuals and departments to fall into silos, especially when a company is growing. It is important for leadership to create paths for collaboration , whether implementing regular meetings, leveraging project management and communication software, or creating mutual support or mentor programs for employees to learn from each other. This can also arm cross-functional teams with a better understanding of their role and others within the organization’s operations. “The mix of viewpoints and experiences within a cross-functional team enhances their problem-solving capabilities,” writes Robert Coleman, director of research and thought leadership for Dale Carnegie and Associates. “By forming a cross-functional team, leaders harness skills and knowledge from different disciplines, allowing creative solutions to emerge.”

5. Invest in learning and training opportunities.

“It’s never too early (or too late) to give your team leaders the tools they need to drive better business results through themselves and their people,” says Arentz. “Without those tools, your workforce is fighting an uphill battle to achieve the goals and standards set out by leadership.” Armed with an understanding of employee behaviors and abilities, leaders can provide avenues for them to expand their skills, build networks, and learn from new perspectives.

According to a Dale Carnegie study, 39 percent of surveyed employees see an opportunity for their skills to grow within their role. Joe Hart, President and CEO of Dale Carnegie, says personalized training and continuous learning deliver the best results. “Expanding one’s professional capabilities is part of the employee engagement picture in the empowered environment,” Hart says. “When individuals are searching for a new job or for greater satisfaction in a current role, employees view skills training and professional growth opportunities as critically important. Empowered employees value training tailored to their specific needs, and training isn’t a one-size-fits-all initiative.” Take the time to understand what type of upskilling will provide the maximum benefit for individuals and the organization alike. Also, don’t be afraid to give employees autonomy to identify the best opportunities for themselves.

6. Prioritize employee engagement and appreciation.

According to recent studies of more than 600 U.S. businesses, 63.3 percent of organizations claim retaining employees is harder than hiring them. Employee engagement plays a significant role in keeping employees happy with their job and contributing to business growth. Boosting engagement includes a variety of targeted efforts, including employee appreciation. There are countless ways to put employee recognition into action. What works for your company will depend largely on a company’s personality and culture. No matter what your company looks like, a successful program starts with a corporate culture that integrates appreciation into day-to-day activities, internal communications, and organizational goals. A workplace that embraces gratitude fosters a sense of loyalty, authenticity, and mutual respect. This results in higher retention and a workforce committed to achieving the company’s vision and mission.

It’s Always About the People

People are at the heart of every organization. So, empowering the individuals that enable your business helps individuals and the organization thrive and succeed. By prioritizing the ongoing development, well-being, and engagement of the workforce first and foremost, businesses cultivate a positive work culture that fuels continued innovation, efficiency, and adaptability. It’s easy to get caught up in managing the day-to-day operations of a company, but investing in employees needs to be a part of every organization’s strategy to ensure long-term success.

Originally published at on April 1, 2024.



Gerri Knilans

Marketing communications strategist. The right message. The right medium. Guaranteed.