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A quick scenario. Thanksgiving dinner, around a big table with family. A lot of cheerful chatter, clinking of silverware. A distant cousin you don’t see often leans over to you and asks, “So, what exactly is it that you DO?”
How you answer this question is an important indicator of how well you’ve thought through your messaging and sales pitch. Can you describe what you do as a Rapid Responder in ways that make sense to the questioner? Is your answer clear enough to be understood? Does it hit the right notes to demonstrate that Rapid Response is meaningful and important? And perhaps most crucially, is it succinct enough to hold your cousin’s attention despite all the distraction?
Rapid Response has one overarching goal: “to…enable dislocated workers to transition to new employment as quickly as possible.” This deceptively simple statement is the foundational principle of Rapid Response—it tells you what your outcome has to be, and it opens the door for all the flexibility that you will need to achieve that goal. (Here’s a link to the full text of the regulations, in case you are interested—click on Sections 665.300 through 665.340 for specifics.)
The primary purpose of Rapid Response is a new job—the purpose is NOT simply to sign workers up for UI and enroll workers in One-Stop programs. The core of Rapid Response is to complete essentially a transaction—to move a worker from a job that is going away to a new job. While certainly there are many services, activities, benefits, etc. that can facilitate the outcome, it is important to remember that the ultimate result is a job. The outcome is more important than the process.
Celina Shands Gradijan – President/CEO
Full Capacity Marketing, Inc.
Can you recommend cost-effective ways for employer outreach? This was a question posed by the Rapid Response Workgroup in a recent online meeting. The answer? Your website is one of the most important storytelling and engagement tools in your outreach arsenal. Yet, many workforce organizations are falling short in terms of harnessing the power of the Web, especially utilizing social media that can enhance collaboration and outreach efforts.
The gold standard for venture capitalist is a 10x return on investment. What this means is for every dollar invested you get $10 back. The Santa Cruz California WIB beat that goal with a $50,000 investment in Layoff Aversion.
Working together, David Lundberg and the staff at the Santa Cruz County WIB, and Teresa Thomae and her group at the
What the WIB did was establish a working partnership with the SBDC. Through a $50,000 contract the WIB engaged the SBDC to help small businesses in their community weather the economic down turn and avoid the need for layoffs. From the project inception in January 2010 to today it has preserved 87 jobs, preventing the need for an equal number of layoffs.
As our regular participants will note, much of the great content that appears in this Rapid Response community focuses on innovative ideas, unique approaches, and strategic partnerships. These are, of course, all things that make Rapid Response the incredibly valuable to workers, businesses, and communities across the country. But I wanted to talk for a bit about something else that can make or break your Rapid Response system—it’s not as exciting, but it’s critical. I’m talking about “infrastructure.” Without an infrastructure that encourages innovation, that promotes consistency, that strives for aversion, that is based upon concrete principles, strategies, policies and procedures, a high-functioning Rapid Response mechanism is difficult to achieve.
Effective infrastructure can, of course, take a wide variety of forms, and I’m not promoting any particular method, structure, format, etc. What I am suggesting, though, is that continuous review of infrastructure, and continuous improvement where necessary, ensures that your foundation for success is always strong.
By Tim Theberge
In 1989, I was in 6th grade. You could buy a 25 MHz computer with a 250 MB hard drive for $6,500 (your eyes aren’t failing you, those are both only “megas”). That same year, Mikhail S. Gorbachev was named Soviet President, tens of thousands of Chinese students took over Beijing's Tiananmen Square in a rally for democracy, the Berlin Wall was opened to the West, US troops invaded Panama seeking capture of General Manuel Noriega, and the ruptured tanker Exxon Valdez sent million of gallons of crude oil into Alaska's Prince William Sound. Those were all memorable events…
Something else was significant that year… or at least interesting to those of us in the workforce investment system. It is a something I found stuck to the back of a binder shoved into the shelves in my cube, “Rapid Response Under EDWAA: ETA Perspectives and Expectations,” which was prepared for Multi-Regional Rapid Response Workshops for State Dislocated Worker Units.
Can you tell your story? Can you quantity your efforts to tell a compelling account of your efforts to benefit workers, businesses and your community?
Being able to present a convincing argument of the value you provide is important in many ways. It helps in efforts to promote Rapid Response to employers, stakeholders, elected officials at the local and state level, and the even the resident of your Governor’s mansion. It also helps you define what you are doing well and what areas may need improvement.
So, what information do you need to tell your story? Rapid Response touches on so many elements of the workforce system and the economy – layoff aversion/business retention strategies, job training, talent management, reemployment, and others – there is a lot to consider.
In keeping with February’s theme of entrepreneurship, below is information regarding the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Community Advantage loan program for small business owners and entrepreneurs in traditionally underserved communities. Since they often face challenges gaining access to the capital they need to succeed, having this kind of resource available is often what separates a successful enterprise from one that struggles or fails.
Programs like Community Advantage can be a valuable tool to put in the Rapid Response toolkit. They can assist in layoff aversion and reemployment efforts.
by Pam Oliwa
Rapid Response Coordinator, New Hampshire
New Hampshire’s Rapid Response and Layoff Aversion Programs have been focusing on partnership development with the Human Resource Association Chapters (Affiliates of the Society for Human Resource Management) since 2009. Our goals were to increase education and awareness, as well as stakeholder utilization of Layoff Aversion and Rapid Response programs and services. Partnership activities included presentations at Chapter meetings throughout the state; participation at the annual State Human Resource Conference; and inclusion in various media outlets for members. This work has not occurred quickly or without challenges. However, with leadership and direction of the Employee Retention Project Manager, Fran Allain, strong partnerships were developed and continue to serve the businesses and workers of New Hampshire.
New Hampshire’s efforts blended traditional methods for partnership building along with a customer-centric model. Initial outreach was directed to state and chapter-based leadership with offers to speak at chapter meetings to provide program overviews and literature. Networking and personal connecting to learn about the organization and the needs of its membership occurred as well. The result was a two-part strategy focused on efficient transfer of information and building relationships for the long-term.
Throughout the economic turmoil of recent years, we’ve been inundated with news about companies laying-off employees in well-meaning attempts to quell red ink and save the company, or worse, closing. With the lingering specter of lost jobs and shuttered buildings, business/plant closings can have a profound negative impact on lives and communities. Whereas layoffs can be temporary, shutting down operations is very often final. However, there is an alternative to consider before the doors are locked, an alternative the takes advantage of the knowledge, experience and expertise of the employees: employee ownership or Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOP).
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