Survey your workforce policies and practices

Which policies and processes are working? Which are barriers to success?

Hiring policies to consider

Preferential access

Although there may be restrictions around equal opportunity for job postings, often these policies do not prevent measures to ensure that pipeline candidate applications are reviewed. Evaluate your job posting policies and consider what might be feasible to connect pipeline candidates to job openings, and, if possible, implement a policy that sets aside a number of available positions for pipeline candidates or guarantees them an interview.

Background check

Even with ban-the-box in place, barriers to entry can still exist.

Policies such as ban-the-box ensure that candidates are not discriminated against during the hiring process and are an important step in connecting returning citizens to jobs. However, even with ban-the-box in place, barriers to entry can still exist. Evaluate whether there are policies that unnecessarily prevent individuals with criminal backgrounds from working in specific positions. Although there is the perception that working in a hospital with a criminal background is not possible, for certain positions this is not necessarily codified in statute.

Credit check

Some institutions require credit checks for positions that do not involve handling a significant amount of money or expensive goods. This ends up barring candidates with debt above a certain threshold or who may have passed bad checks in the past, regardless of their current financial status or the severity of the misdemeanor. This provision can end up being a major obstacle to strong local hiring efforts, as many administrative positions have to handle smaller financial transactions. New Haven Works, a workforce intermediary based in New Haven, Connecticut, partnered with Yale University to reevaluate these thresholds and refine an overly broad policy so that they were no longer barring qualified applicants from these low-risk positions.1Boris Sigal, interview by David Zuckerman and Katie Parker, New Haven, CT, April 1, 2016, notes. Assessing these policies and determining more reasonable thresholds can help ensure that current practices do not discriminate unnecessarily against candidates with debt.

Hiring practices to consider

Position is posted in accessible format

Where open positions are posted can make a huge difference in terms of whether individuals access them.

Where open positions are posted can make a huge difference in terms of whether individuals access them. Having a job portal that is easy to navigate is an important outreach step. An example of an easy-to-navigate job portal that flags positions being targeted for local hire is the HopkinsLocal website from Johns Hopkins University and Health System.

Hiring manager engagement

Changing the point at which a hiring manager engages with local applicants is a significant step in linking these candidates to job opportunities. If hiring managers assist with pre-employment training, conduct mock interviews, and meet with candidates it can help them to forge personal connections that benefit both the candidate and the manager. Map your current hiring processes and determine whether there are any points at which hiring managers could meet with local candidates. Small adjustments to these processes can make investments and partnerships more effective and efficient.

Training policies to consider

Eligibility for tuition assistance

Access to training opportunities soon after hire not only helps employees build job skills and strengthen performance, but can improve retention and satisfaction. When are employees eligible for tuition assistance at your institution? Although employers frequently wait for a year to allow employees to access this benefit, opening up tuition assistance after three to six months can connect new employees to career pathways right away. Another important factor to consider is what programs are eligible. Ensure that your policies do not only cover degree-granting programs, as these programs are often not the trainings that frontline workers can access right away. Tuition assistance policies that are only for degree-granting programs increase the bifurcation of opportunities between lower- and higher-wage employees.

Eligibility for tuition advancement

Paying for training up-front can be a significant burden to frontline workers that likely have limited savings.

Although tuition reimbursement is an important employer benefit for lower-wage employees, paying for training up-front can be a significant burden to frontline workers that likely have limited savings. Policies such as having a wage threshold for which tuition is advanced rather than reimbursed can help address these financial barriers. Some institutions have paired this with a requirement that the employee given a tuition advance must work at the institution for one year after training. This requirement is designed to reduce the risk that trainings are not finished and to ensure the agreement benefits the institution. Other policy solutions can include: working out payment plans with employees, partnering with educational institutions that allow for delayed payment, or developing partnerships with local financial institutions that can provide short-term, low-interest loans.

Training practices to consider

Release time

Release time for training can also be critical for enabling frontline workers to access career development opportunities. Employees might work multiple jobs or have other time constraints such as childcare. Allowing trainings to be completed on-the-job can help guarantee that they are truly accessible. Since release time is a cost burden, some institutions have used funds from training or human resource departments to pay for this time. Or they have utilized internship programs to help fill the gap created by paid employee training.

Retention policies to consider

Employer-assisted housing

A critical component to any sustainable local hiring program is ensuring that there are affordable housing options near the hospital. This is especially critical in cities with high cost of living or where neighborhoods immediately surrounding the hospital are being redeveloped and lower-wage employees face the risk of being displaced if property values rise. Employer-assisted housing programs are increasingly used to draw investment to a particular place and increase retention. For lower-wage employees, homeownership is a critical tool for building wealth and achieving economic well-being. Intentionally linking local hiring initiatives to an employer-assisted housing program can ensure that a broader range of employees can take advantage of this type of benefit. There are many strategies for structuring such a program, including forgivable loans, down payment assistance, or a mortgage buy-down.2For a chart describing strategies for employer-assisted housing programs, see: Anna Afshar and Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, “New Arguments for EA Housing,” New England Community Developments 1 (2006): 3, www.bostonfed.org/commdev/necd/2006/q1/EmployerAssistedHousing.pdf. One of the most sustainable models for implementing this policy is a community land trust, which provide permanently affordable housing and ownership opportunities to low-income residents. Community development corporations and other affordable housing intermediaries are potential partners for implementing these strategies.

Retention practices to consider

Provide employees with opportunities for other skills development

Practices such as connecting frontline workers to coaches can help increase retention, as coaches are able to work with employees on soft skills development and help navigate issues such as transportation and childcare. By focusing on a wider array of skills, coaches are able to create a more inclusive working environment. Moreover, a focus on outside skills can have a tremendous impact. One such example is financial education. On-site financial education programs provide important information to employees—about banking, home ownership, and general financing planning. Knowledge in these areas can help employees retain or build wealth, which in turn can help improve job stability.

 

What policies might help make the case?

Identify any existing policies and plans that are in line with the goals of your local hiring program. This can help refine initiative goals and make the case for investing in the initiative.

Policy documents to draw from

  • Strategic Plan
  • Sustainability Plan
  • Diversity Plan
  • Mission and Vision Statements
  • Community Health Needs Implementation Plan

Measure your workforce baseline

Key ways to assess your current workforce and existing commitments

Map your community's assets

You know your community needs jobs—but do you know the strengths it can offer?

Identify your partners

A workforce pipeline doesn't have to be built alone—who will be on your team?

Design around data and metrics

What are you going to measure to assess success, and how are you going to measure it?

Plan for sustainability

How do you institutionalize programs and get the whole team on board?

References   [ + ]

1. Boris Sigal, interview by David Zuckerman and Katie Parker, New Haven, CT, April 1, 2016, notes.
2. For a chart describing strategies for employer-assisted housing programs, see: Anna Afshar and Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, “New Arguments for EA Housing,” New England Community Developments 1 (2006): 3, www.bostonfed.org/commdev/necd/2006/q1/EmployerAssistedHousing.pdf.