#1: Design a cohesive business services model that employers value.
The report examined a host of secondary research that concluded employers want:
- a cohesive menu of services that are easily understandable;
- follow-through by representatives from the system; and
- results in meeting their needs with well matched candidates.
The report builds a clear business case to create an integrated business services delivery system that brings together all service providers that work collaboratively in the best interest of the business (customer-centric model) versus the requirements of the funding stream (funding-based model). FCM has worked in Oklahoma with their system and they have made excellent strides in bringing a customer-centric model to fruition.
The National Civic Review released an insightful report, Involving the Public in Measuring and Reporting Local Government Performance, which details findings of some 47 government organizations that engaged citizens in developing performance measurements and reporting. The report reveals a number of differences in how the public judges local government performance and how local governments tend to measure and report about their performance. Here are the highlights.
- People expect services to be coordinated even if they are delivered by different agencies, governmental bodies, and contractors hired by government.
- They think that government employees must exhibit knowledge in their area of work, be helpful and responsive, take initiative to solve problems, and give timely responses.
- The public is interested in outcomes and the quality of work performed.
Speaking of outcomes, here’s the second takeaway.
#2: Measure your workforce programs’ economic impact from both the supply side (job seeker) and the demand side (employer).
Coburn’s report states that the U.S. Department of Labor Inspector General (OIG) found that “WIA (Workforce Investment Act) does not allow the Employment and Training Administration (ETA) to establish any new performance measures apart from the core employment indicators required in WIA Section 136. Therefore, ETA could not use data it collected on training-related employment through its Workforce Investment Act Standard Record Data.”
Just because it’s not required by ETA doesn’t mean that workforce investment boards (WIBs) can’t adopt measuring economic impacts as a core strategic practice. A key barrier to WIA reauthorization has been the workforce system's lack of ability to report a collective cost-benefit analysis of its programs and services. The National Association of Workforce Boards (NAWB) conducted a 2011 survey in which the top challenge reported by WIBs across the country was demonstrating cost-benefit metrics to funders and elected officials (55%). Only 58 percent of surveyed WIBs actually perform cost-benefit analyses on Workforce Investment Act (WIA) and/or non-WIA funded activities. In order to position the workforce system for continued funding, WIBs need to produce a collective, replicable analysis on what WIA activities generate economic benefits, and the costs of delivering these services, so that legislators can make informed funding decisions.
In March 2012, the NAWB, FCM, and Economic Modeling Specialists designed a national workforce scorecard model that reports the benefits and costs of WIA programs, along with the unique economic impacts of WIB operations on regional income and jobs. The development of the WIA Scorecard was piloted with the South Central Michigan Works! WIB (SCMW) with several goals in mind:
- an understanding of the types of data local workforce boards need to collect, or are willing to collect; and
- a WIA Scorecard that contains the benefits and costs of WIA programs that was vetted by NAWB’s chosen team of respected economists.
Part II of the project has just been released, a Business Services Scorecard assessing the regional economic impacts of the WIB's services to employers. FCM evaluated SCMW's business services model to examine core elements of data collection and the ability to build relationships with employers. "In this model, the business services team literally has to engage businesses in the data collection process," said Celina Shands Gradijan, President of FCM. "This means that teams have to have a broad-based approach to serving businesses that moves beyond just placing a job order."
#3: Support the economic impact data with a bank of customer success stories that demonstrate actual customer impact.
Coburn quotes a story in his report about a 16 year old that entered a Workforce Center requesting work during the Summer 2010.
“He was eligible [for the program] and very excited about working. He started working at the local grocery store…and enjoyed all the work experience and the people skills he has gained from the program.”
Coburn asked, “Is it necessary to pay somebody federal taxpayer money to train someone to bag groceries, and will those skills help teens become more competitive in the workforce?” Our response to Coburn is “yes”; investment to help youth gain access to entry-level jobs, especially youth with multiple barriers, and gain the necessary soft skills and work experience to be successful is a worthwhile investment . However, this falls woefully short of a viable success stories that needs to contain three key components 1) what’s the issue for the customer; 2) what solution was implemented; and 3) what were the tangible results.
The National Association of Workforce Boards has developed a national story telling website for workforce stakeholders at www.WorkforceInvestmentWorks.com. Register for free and download their how to develop a story toolkit. NAWB uses the following as an example of how to tell a succinct, powerful story.
Submitted By: McHenry County Workforce Network
Customer: Joule Technologies
Like so many small manufacturing firms, Joule Technologies (Joule) found itself at a competitive disadvantage when training their small number of employees. While both costly and time consuming, the company needed training to keep its employees competitive in the market.
Fortunately, Joule received an Incumbent Worker Training Grant in the fall of 2009 from the McHenry County Workforce Network. The company shut down for three days for an extensive on-site training in Lean Enterprise.
Outcomes & Benefits
The grant money gave Joule Technologies the knowledge and confidence to completely restructure their production processes and philosophies. They have reduced lead times for their products by 60%, increased their on-time delivery to 100% and reduced customer returns by over 80%. Their workforce is confident and is now taking ownership over their products and customer relationships in a way that they could not have imagined twelve months ago.
Too bad Coburn didn’t have a bank of stories like this one to examine. Make sure that your workforce organization understands the core principles of storytelling, and then upload them as part of the national campaign to build value and support of the workforce system at www.WorkforceInvestmentWorks.com.
States and state associations have the option to tailor the campaign site specifically for their needs; take a look at www.WorkforceInvestmentWorks.com/California. Success stories, innovations and customer testimonials that are published on the state campaign websites automatically flow to the national website, so that there is no duplication in entering data. This allows the NAWB to continually build the national database of successes and innovations, which in turn, builds a stronger business case collectively for workforce funding. Contact Josh Copus at email@example.com
No logo or tagline is going to fix these communication issues. Workforce professionals have to become ruthless at managing their brands and communicating effectively question, “if our funding went away would our community care?” Not sure how you are doing with brand management, click here to take FCM’s Brand Audit online assessment.