What We Are Learning2018-11-26T20:16:14+00:00

Resources and Publications from CWFA and our Partners:

Dawson has written a set of six “opinion briefs” on improving the quality of jobs for low-income workers. Topics range from employer engagement to re-designing workforce intermediaries. We recommend starting with Paper #1 and Paper #6. The six briefs are at: {www.thepinkertonfoundation.org/paper_type/job-quality-series}

Also, the National Fund has built upon the job-quality framework proposed in Paper #6 for a “dynamic definition” of the many ways in which frontline jobs can be improved: https://nationalfund.org/job-quality-resource-center/.

The Aspen Institute and PHI argue that the workforce field should focus not only on “supply-side” strategies of training, placement and career development, but also “demand-side” strategies of helping employers improve the quality of frontline jobs. Access the paper at: {www.aspeninstitute.org/publications/raise-the-floor-and-build-ladders-workforce-strategies-supporting-mobility-and-stability/}  A companion paper, Restore the Promise of Work, can be found at: http://www.aspenwsi.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/Restore-the-Promise-of-Work-The-Aspen-Institute-2016.pdf

Joe Baumann, of JNB Brand Growth Consulting, authored this National Fund report, which outlines key insights of behavioral economics and applies them to situations of workforce development and business leaders working together. Access the report at: {https://nationalfund.org/learning-evaluation/publications/behavioral-economics-workforce/}

This Time Magazine editorial, written by Maureen Conway of the Aspen Institute, makes a strong argument for why the workforce field must look beyond training strategies alone, to interventions that include “the nature of work, and the kind of opportunity a job offers.” This brief Time editorial can be found at:


The Stable Scheduling Study – Joan C. Williams, Susan J. Lambert, et al.

Many workforce practitioners are assisting retail businesses—and have quickly come to understand that scheduling practices are a prime factor in destabilizing both work- and homelife for frontline retail staff. This study is a disciplined analysis of scheduling practices at national retail store, The Gap, and how certain interventions, such as tech-enabled shift swapping, impacted both workers and Gap stores.

A brief introductory article can be found at the Slate website: https://slate.com/human-interest/2018/03/new-study-examines-schedule-instability-in-retail-jobs.html

Additional Workforce Development Resources:

Ton researched how certain large retail companies create a competitive business advantage—not only by investing in their frontline workers, but also by focusing on “operational excellence” to leverage that investment. Introductory article: “The Good Jobs Solution” Full book at Amazon:  {www.amazon.com/Good-Jobs-Strategy-Companies-Employees-ebook/dp/B00DZQE31I/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1525112739&sr=1-1&keywords=good+jobs+strategy}

The premise of Robinson and Schroeder is that “80 percent of innovation should derive from frontline workers, not managers.” They frame this approach as a strategy to maximize business profitability, but the result clearly is also better jobs for frontline workers. Introductory article: “How to Unlock Employee Ideas to Power Your Organization” Full book at Amazon: {www.amazon.com/Idea-Driven-Organization-Unlocking-Power-Bottom-Up-ebook/dp/B00GT486TS/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1525112972&sr=1-1&keywords=idea+driven+organization}

FSG is a “mission-driven” consulting organization that, among other strategies, works with businesses to strengthen their talent pipeline. They reviewed a broad range of “workforce retention” strategies, and then prioritized those by the strength of evidence documenting effectiveness. This frame is now widely used within the field. FSG’s introductory paper can be downloaded at: {www.fsg.org/publications/investing-entry-level-talent}

PCV, based in Oakland, California, is a nonprofit community development finance institution (CDFI) that invests in small businesses in low-income communities. There are over 1000 CDFIs in the U.S., and several are now pursuing job-quality strategies—combining business investment with workforce development. PCV’s report offers a CDFI perspective on these initiatives. Here is the executive summary to the “Moving Beyond Job Creation: Defining and Measuring the Creation of Quality Jobs” article.

The full report is at: https://www.pacificcommunityventures.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/6/2016/04/Quality-Jobs_Moving-Beyond-Job-Creation.pdf

In promoting job-quality strategies, Zeynep Ton urges employers to treat frontline workers as “assets to be leveraged, not costs to be minimized.” This article by Jeffrey Pfeffer, though 20 years old, is an excellent description of how labor costs are so often misconstrued—even by employers. Find this Harvard Business Review article at: https://hbr.org/1998/05/six-dangerous-myths-about-pay

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