How our employees are career entrepreneurs

Progressive career paths are adventurous, winding roads

3 min read

November 2019

Two Progressive employees showing entrepreneurial skills while working together in conference room on laptops

As unexpected as they seem, career paths at Progressive are just a small sample of the magic that happens in a culture focused on development and career progression.

  • The next step for a customer service rep could be a corporate writing job, which propels them to a marketing specialist position.
  • An emergency medical technician could start as an analyst and make the leap to product manager.
  • A naval officer beginning as a process consultant might evolve into a business leader and even a chief human resources officer.

You might be wondering, “How do career paths like this happen?” As unexpected as they seem, they’re just a small sample of the magic that happens in a culture focused on development and career progression.

At Progressive, our focus on growth and improvement is part of our unique culture. A culture rooted in our Core Values, open communication, coaching, and continuous improvement. During back-to-back years of tremendous growth, we focused on maintaining our culture and supporting our people in ways that matter to them. That’s in large part because we take a unique approach to development

My path at Progressive has been a journey through different business areas, career levels, and roles. And that’s not uncommon here.

Hiring from the outside, promoting from the inside

For decades, we’ve been developing claims reps, call center reps, analysts, and product managers into talented business athletes that rise to our executive ranks. This talent pipeline has produced our current executive team, a tenured group with a deep understanding of our business and culture.

But feeding our talent pipeline starts with external hiring. In recent years, our growth has required us to onboard more than 20,000 new people. But, the real advantage for us comes from our ability to retain, develop, and promote our people. I want Progressive people to be entrepreneurs of their careers, charting their own paths. Our leaders support them in their efforts, but the responsibility lies with each of us to pursue our ambitions. We empower our people to create their own development opportunities by providing an array of unique tools. Here are a few examples:

  • Exploring potential career paths using an internal site where our people can learn about what it takes to succeed in different roles.
  • Spending time in a “loan-in” position, temporarily working in another role to understand if it’s a good fit.
  • Engaging in a job swap, switching roles with another high performer to expand the breadth and depth of business knowledge.
  • Taking advantage of our Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) designed to enhance social and cultural awareness and provide professional growth. Over 13,000 Progressive people belong to an ERG and these members are significantly more likely to apply for a promotion than non-members.
  • Applying for our Multi-Cultural Leadership Development program, designed to develop future leaders and accelerate career growth. (More than 65% of graduates of this 18-month program have been promoted into new positions.)

Finally, we’re transparent about career opportunities. Almost all of our jobs are posted internally and anyone who’s qualified for a role can apply. With more than 5,000 internal transfers and promotions on average in recent years, I’m excited that so many others have the same opportunities that I did to chart a unique Progressive career.

A view of the Progressive campus

The proof is in our workplace engagement

So how do we know this approach is working for our people? They tell us in survey responses, in focus groups, and during chats in the hallways. In 2020, our annual Engagement & Culture survey results ranked in the 96th percentile of all companies using Gallup’s engagement index. Engagement at Progressive is more than double that of the U.S. working population. Plus, our 8% voluntary turnover rate, in this job market, is further proof that a strong culture that includes development and career opportunities produces better business results.

I believe in the long-term benefits of our talent pipeline strategy. We invest in what matters most—our people—and our returns consistently affirm that our culture and our people are creating a competitive advantage.

Lori Niederst is a 20+ year Progressive employee, with a path from CPA to CHRO. Believer that Progressive's people and culture are our greatest competitive advantages. Paddleboarder, skier, and mom of three teenagers in a household with four generations living under one roof.

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