Employee Voice: Untapped Resource or Social Media Time Bomb? Net Present Value (NPV) / MBA Resources

Introduction to Net Present Value (NPV) - What is Net Present Value (NPV) ? How it impacts financial decisions regarding project management?

NPV solution for Employee Voice: Untapped Resource or Social Media Time Bomb? case study

At Oak Spring University, we provide corporate level professional Net Present Value (NPV) case study solution. Employee Voice: Untapped Resource or Social Media Time Bomb? case study is a Harvard Business School (HBR) case study written by Sandra Jeanquart Miles, W. Glynn Mangold. The Employee Voice: Untapped Resource or Social Media Time Bomb? (referred as “Voice Bomb” from here on) case study provides evaluation & decision scenario in field of Leadership & Managing People. It also touches upon business topics such as - Value proposition, Motivating people, Social platforms.

The net present value (NPV) of an investment proposal is the present value of the proposal’s net cash flows less the proposal’s initial cash outflow. If a project’s NPV is greater than or equal to zero, the project should be accepted.

NPV = Present Value of Future Cash Flows LESS Project’s Initial Investment

Case Description of Employee Voice: Untapped Resource or Social Media Time Bomb? Case Study

The venues by which employees can voice satisfaction, dissatisfaction, and their experiences with the organization have traditionally been limited to internal communication systems that are orchestrated and sanctioned by the organization. However, social media such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, as well as blogs and instant messaging, now enable employees to deliver messages to hundreds or even thousands of people with a few keystrokes. . .messages that may or may not be desirable to or sanctioned by the organization. Under these circumstances, employee voice can be an untapped resource for enhancing the organization's public image or a bomb waiting to explode with devastating impact on the firm's reputation. Effective management of employee voice begins with understanding its purposes: contribution to management decision making, demonstration of partnership, articulation of individual dissatisfaction, and expression of collective bargaining. These expressions of voice can be guided and managed to a strategic advantage when organizations provide a proper organizational context along with the appropriate mechanisms for employees.

Case Authors : Sandra Jeanquart Miles, W. Glynn Mangold

Topic : Leadership & Managing People

Related Areas : Motivating people, Social platforms

Calculating Net Present Value (NPV) at 6% for Employee Voice: Untapped Resource or Social Media Time Bomb? Case Study

Years              Cash Flow     Net Cash Flow     Cumulative    
Cash Flow
Discount Rate
@ 6 %
Cash Flows
Year 0 (10011350) -10011350 - -
Year 1 3450681 -6560669 3450681 0.9434 3255359
Year 2 3979409 -2581260 7430090 0.89 3541660
Year 3 3953763 1372503 11383853 0.8396 3319656
Year 4 3228545 4601048 14612398 0.7921 2557310
TOTAL 14612398 12673985

The Net Present Value at 6% discount rate is 2662635

In isolation the NPV number doesn't mean much but put in right context then it is one of the best method to evaluate project returns. In this article we will cover -

Different methods of capital budgeting

What is NPV & Formula of NPV,
How it is calculated,
How to use NPV number for project evaluation, and
Scenario Planning given risks and management priorities.

Capital Budgeting Approaches

Methods of Capital Budgeting

There are four types of capital budgeting techniques that are widely used in the corporate world –

1. Net Present Value
2. Profitability Index
3. Internal Rate of Return
4. Payback Period

Apart from the Payback period method which is an additive method, rest of the methods are based on Discounted Cash Flow technique. Even though cash flow can be calculated based on the nature of the project, for the simplicity of the article we are assuming that all the expected cash flows are realized at the end of the year.

Discounted Cash Flow approaches provide a more objective basis for evaluating and selecting investment projects. They take into consideration both –

1. Magnitude of both incoming and outgoing cash flows – Projects can be capital intensive, time intensive, or both. Voice Bomb shareholders have preference for diversified projects investment rather than prospective high income from a single capital intensive project.
2. Timing of the expected cash flows – stockholders of Voice Bomb have higher preference for cash returns over 4-5 years rather than 10-15 years given the nature of the volatility in the industry.

Formula and Steps to Calculate Net Present Value (NPV) of Employee Voice: Untapped Resource or Social Media Time Bomb?

NPV = Net Cash In Flowt1 / (1+r)t1 + Net Cash In Flowt2 / (1+r)t2 + … Net Cash In Flowtn / (1+r)tn
Less Net Cash Out Flowt0 / (1+r)t0

Where t = time period, in this case year 1, year 2 and so on.
r = discount rate or return that could be earned using other safe proposition such as fixed deposit or treasury bond rate. Net Cash In Flow – What the firm will get each year.
Net Cash Out Flow – What the firm needs to invest initially in the project.

Step 1 – Understand the nature of the project and calculate cash flow for each year.
Step 2 – Discount those cash flow based on the discount rate.
Step 3 – Add all the discounted cash flow.
Step 4 – Selection of the project

Why Leadership & Managing People Managers need to know Financial Tools such as Net Present Value (NPV)?

In our daily workplace we often come across people and colleagues who are just focused on their core competency and targets they have to deliver. For example marketing managers at Voice Bomb often design programs whose objective is to drive brand awareness and customer reach. But how that 30 point increase in brand awareness or 10 point increase in customer touch points will result into shareholders’ value is not specified.

To overcome such scenarios managers at Voice Bomb needs to not only know the financial aspect of project management but also needs to have tools to integrate them into part of the project development and monitoring plan.

Calculating Net Present Value (NPV) at 15%

After working through various assumptions we reached a conclusion that risk is far higher than 6%. In a reasonably stable industry with weak competition - 15% discount rate can be a good benchmark.

Years              Cash Flow     Net Cash Flow     Cumulative    
Cash Flow
Discount Rate
@ 15 %
Cash Flows
Year 0 (10011350) -10011350 - -
Year 1 3450681 -6560669 3450681 0.8696 3000592
Year 2 3979409 -2581260 7430090 0.7561 3009005
Year 3 3953763 1372503 11383853 0.6575 2599663
Year 4 3228545 4601048 14612398 0.5718 1845931
TOTAL 10455192

The Net NPV after 4 years is 443842

(10455192 - 10011350 )

Calculating Net Present Value (NPV) at 20%

If the risk component is high in the industry then we should go for a higher hurdle rate / discount rate of 20%.

Years              Cash Flow     Net Cash Flow     Cumulative    
Cash Flow
Discount Rate
@ 20 %
Cash Flows
Year 0 (10011350) -10011350 - -
Year 1 3450681 -6560669 3450681 0.8333 2875568
Year 2 3979409 -2581260 7430090 0.6944 2763478
Year 3 3953763 1372503 11383853 0.5787 2288057
Year 4 3228545 4601048 14612398 0.4823 1556976
TOTAL 9484079

The Net NPV after 4 years is -527271

At 20% discount rate the NPV is negative (9484079 - 10011350 ) so ideally we can't select the project if macro and micro factors don't allow financial managers of Voice Bomb to discount cash flow at lower discount rates such as 15%.

Acceptance Criteria of a Project based on NPV

Simplest Approach – If the investment project of Voice Bomb has a NPV value higher than Zero then finance managers at Voice Bomb can ACCEPT the project, otherwise they can reject the project. This means that project will deliver higher returns over the period of time than any alternate investment strategy.

In theory if the required rate of return or discount rate is chosen correctly by finance managers at Voice Bomb, then the stock price of the Voice Bomb should change by same amount of the NPV. In real world we know that share price also reflects various other factors that can be related to both macro and micro environment.

In the same vein – accepting the project with zero NPV should result in stagnant share price. Finance managers use discount rates as a measure of risk components in the project execution process.

Sensitivity Analysis

Project selection is often a far more complex decision than just choosing it based on the NPV number. Finance managers at Voice Bomb should conduct a sensitivity analysis to better understand not only the inherent risk of the projects but also how those risks can be either factored in or mitigated during the project execution. Sensitivity analysis helps in –

What are the key aspects of the projects that need to be monitored, refined, and retuned for continuous delivery of projected cash flows.

What are the uncertainties surrounding the project Initial Cash Outlay (ICO’s). ICO’s often have several different components such as land, machinery, building, and other equipment.

What will be a multi year spillover effect of various taxation regulations.

Understanding of risks involved in the project.

What can impact the cash flow of the project.

Some of the assumptions while using the Discounted Cash Flow Methods –

Projects are assumed to be Mutually Exclusive – This is seldom the came in modern day giant organizations where projects are often inter-related and rejecting a project solely based on NPV can result in sunk cost from a related project.

Independent projects have independent cash flows – As explained in the marketing project – though the project may look independent but in reality it is not as the brand awareness project can be closely associated with the spending on sales promotions and product specific advertising.

References & Further Readings

Sandra Jeanquart Miles, W. Glynn Mangold (2018), "Employee Voice: Untapped Resource or Social Media Time Bomb? Harvard Business Review Case Study. Published by HBR Publications.