Goodwill Boosts Retail Employee Performance With New Career Development Program

Goodwill has implemented a pilot program designed to improve retail retention and provide the resources necessary to stimulate workplace growth. The program, called GoodPaths, is being piloted within three local Goodwill locations:

  • Easter Seals-Goodwill Northern Rocky Mountain, Inc. (Great Falls, Mont.);
  • Goodwill Industries of Houston (Texas); and
  • Palmetto Goodwill (North Charleston, S.C.).

As many as 9% of the 289 Goodwill retail employees enrolled in the GoodPaths pilot have been promoted after five months and 85% have received wage increases, according to Jim Gibbons, CEO and President of Goodwill Industries International, in a February 2018 blog post.

GoodPaths provides employees with assessments, career coaching, customized training, mentoring and referrals to support services, giving them the skills and knowledge necessary to improve their work performance. Through a series of examinations, program participants discover their strengths and weaknesses, while managers identify areas for improvement or acknowledgement.


“One element of helping people build their skills is helping them make good, informed decisions about what they’re going to do with their career pathways,” said Wendi Copeland, Senior VP of Strategy and Advancement of Goodwill Industries International, in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “The career navigator better equips people who are incumbent workers within retail who are already working and want to know how to get ahead. This helps them have access to information, skills and the opportunities to move on and move up.”

But employee retention isn’t all about skills and knowledge — retail employees also want to feel valued in their position. The Goodwill team noticed that when select employees at the three local organizations felt more connected to their work, they were more attentive to the consumer, according to Copeland.

“If an employer is listening and hearing the voice of the worker, chances are they can make better course correction and make this a better experience for their customer.”

Walmart Foundation, Hope Street Group Support GoodPaths Launch

The GoodPaths initiative is made possible as part of the Retail Opportunity Initiative, a five-year, $100 million sector-wide effort launched by Walmart and the Walmart Foundation in 2015 aimed at simplifying advancement opportunities for frontline retail workers. The Walmart Foundation has invested $2.5 million in the program.

Hope Street Group, a non-profit organization dedicated to strengthening U.S. education and workforce systems, also partnered with Goodwill to launch GoodPaths. In conjunction with the White House, Hope Street Group launched its own program in April 2016, called the Health Career Pathways Network (HCPN). This program was the inspiration for the GoodPaths project.

“When we had the opportunity to think of another way to equip people to manage their own careers, we looked at their research with the health care industry in Western Michigan,” Copeland said. “It got fabulous results with a structured career navigation process in both retaining workers and advancing workers, so we thought, ‘What would happen if we tried that with retail?’ When you think about the percentage of this country’s workforce is connected to retail, this could make a very big difference in workers’ lives, the industry and also in career navigation in general.”

Depending on the continued success of GoodPaths at the three local organizations, the Goodwill team plans to refine the platform before extending it across other locations nationwide. Copeland noted that the company is presently expanding the GoodPaths pilot to approximately 10 more organizations in Q2 2018.

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