*Update: The Richland County Employer Resource Network has been rebranded as the Associate Support Network.
North End Community Improvement Collaborative (NECIC) announced the launch of the Richland County Employer Resource Network (Richland County ERN) in conjunction with their NECIC Staffing workforce development program.
An employer resource network is made up of a group of businesses that share the cost of an on-site success coach to provide job retention services, work supports, and training opportunities to employees. The goal of the Richland County Employer Resource Network is to stabilize the area’s workforce and support businesses and employees.
Stabilizing the workforce by reducing turnover
The project is the result of extensive study and analysis, explained NECIC Executive Director Deanna West-Torrence. “In our research, we discovered there were three main things that were detrimental to employers: the increased training cost of high turnover, high turnover itself, and reduced productivity during these changes with employees.”
She said that by addressing the data contained in the NECIC North End Community Economic Development Plan, NECIC was able to see what was happening with families, that they simply didn’t have the resources to maintain employment. Among the many issues they face, childcare, transportation, and housing presented barriers that residents struggle to overcome.
“Because the nonprofit sector is already used to navigating those things and addressing barriers, this was a good way to marry that information with resource referral and tie it to people who are working,” said West-Torrence. “Utilizing a success coach, and placing them on-site with employers, will prove to be a valuable service to employers and employees in equal measure.”
Working equally with employers and employees is imperative to stabilizing the workforce, noted NECIC Director of Operations Beth Reitler. “NECIC Staffing launched February 1, 2016. The idea behind the launch of NECIC Staffing was to have a staffing agency that was serving the businesses and associates equally. The Richland County ERN is exactly that. It is an employer resource network, because by supporting employees, you are helping the employer. We knew from day one that NECIC Staffing needed to focus on stabilizing the workforce, and the ERN is a tool to do that.”
Employee turnover can be detrimental to a company's bottom line, she continued, costing an organization $3,500 to $5,000 per termination for each full-time, salaried employee.
“The reason we focused on this ERN model is because it’s self-sustaining. It’s something businesses can relate to because it’s about a return on investment,” said Reitler. “It isn’t a social service thing. It isn’t donation or grant funded. It is a business model that we feel should and can succeed because of the return on investment.”
The Success Coach is key
“Statistically, people walk away from jobs for reasons that they didn’t need to lose their job over,” said Reitler. “One particular case comes to mind, of a young woman who was within a week of being hired in to a full-time, permanent position. It would have meant a significant raise, job security, benefits, and more. But personal issues prevailed – she received custody of her child and didn’t know how to find childcare. Instead, she didn’t call in or show up, and she burned a bridge with an employer for that. The success coach could have walked her through the childcare selection process, as well as applying for childcare assistance, and she needn’t have walked away from that chance at success. That is what the ERN is for, to make sure people know what their options are before they lose their job.”
The success coach will also assist employees with navigating positions and promotions, and improve chances of advancement, said West-Torrence.
“We looked at the success coach as a coaching function as opposed to case management. It’s important for an employee to have someone to walk alongside and coach them, which fits really well with our asset-based strategy of dealing with someone’s strengths as opposed to deficits,” she explained.
Amanda Cooper is new to NECIC, and will serve as the NECIC Staffing business development coordinator as well as success coach during the launch. She attended North Central State College with a focus in Human Services, and brings 20 years of combined staffing and sales experience.
“She has a great, diverse background. She not only understands the needs of businesses from managing her own business, she has provided training and coaching-type services along the way,” said Reitler. “We feel she will represent both the business and the employee, which is key to the success coach position.”
“I’m excited to be a part of such a visionary organization,” said Cooper. “I understand the problems that businesses are facing right now with their turnover and finding people, and I’m really excited we are taking this approach.”
A key factor in the on-site success of the program lies in the hands of employers, said Reitler. They must inform staff of the success coach’s purpose and provide access, encouraging employees to take advantage of this valuable asset.
“It is extremely important that every employee understands that a visit to the success coach doesn’t go on their personnel record. This is a private matter between the success coach and the employee. They can come and talk about anything going on in their life, not just things related to work, and have someone that can provide resources and guidance in coaching them,” she explained.
This project, Reitler noted, needs to be business-led, and will be guided by an advisory council made up of local businesses. “Anyone that would like to participate in the advisory council could seek to do so,” she explained.
All businesses that are paying to participate in the Richland County ERN are automatically a part of the advisory council. But, she added, some businesses may prefer to sit-in and see how things work before taking part, or businesses that are too small to have a success coach may appreciate the resource of hearing the ideas and having a networking opportunity.
“Businesses right now, regardless of industry, are experiencing some of the same problems in turnover and staffing, and the idea of the advisory council is to have a very diverse panel from different industries and settings, and then finding the commonalities and addressing those issues,” said Cooper.
The Richland County ERN will serve all employees at each participating business, not just the NECIC Staffing associates. “In fact, our first Richland County ERN client is not a business that we work with on the staffing side of things,” said Reitler. “Any business in Richland County may choose to be part of the ERN, even if they choose not to utilize our staffing services.”
Interested businesses may request additional information by contacting NECIC Staffing through their Richland County ERN link or by calling Amanda Cooper at 419-522-1611, extension 100.
“I think we can fill up the Richland County ERN fairly quickly. Get on board quick before all the slots fill up,” said Cooper.