We are standing on the precipice of a great opportunity. Together.
That may seem like a bold statement in the wake of a pandemic that sent the economy into a tailspin. COVID-19 has accelerated many future-of-work challenges, and exacerbated numerous inequities in our workforce. This is evident in the unfortunate statistics regarding frontline and low-income workers, and people of color. In fact, economists are predicting a K-shaped recovery where the economically and technologically powerful get richer, and underserved workers and local businesses get poorer. That is a frightening scenario for most Americans, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
At Jobcase, we see the opportunity to come together as a community – of workers and employers – to emerge stronger than before we ever heard the term COVID-19. This is an excuse to step outside ‘business as usual’ to reexamine ourselves, and reimagine what’s good for all stakeholders.
Community Makes for a Better Labor Market
We gain so much when we listen, engage, and work together to solve challenges. That’s why Jobcase is both a leading platform for workers searching for jobs, and a community of “people helping people.” Building relationships helps individuals share knowledge, develop empathy, and gain self-confidence. Jobcase helps employers leverage these relationships to drive business success – like growing brand awareness, attracting applicants, and hiring talent – in order to provide good jobs for our members. People in our community support each other, and are an excellent resource for employers to learn from. When employers engage with these workers, they help set expectations, provide knowledge, and prepare them to be successful applicants.
Community Drives “Worker-centered” Actions
At Jobcase, we view the workforce through the eyes of the diverse people in our community – such as hourly employees, nurses, aging workers, retail managers, tradespeople, truck drivers, single parents, and medical billing specialists. More than ever, many of these 110+ million members on our platform are struggling. Now is the time to look to their perspectives to inform our solutions and affect change.
The following “worker-centered” ideas – inspired by the Jobcase community – can advance the recovery of working people and strengthen the employers who support them:
Working Parents Need Employer Support Like Never Before
Having to choose between your job or your kids is a harsh reality for many Americans right now. This is certainly one of the reasons why women have dropped out of the workforce about four times more than men in recent months. Employers can help in a couple of important ways.
- Create safe, on-site childcare facilities.
According to the Census Bureau, 1 in 5 working-age adults is unemployed due to a loss in childcare arrangements. Employers could relieve a huge burden for these parents who work outside of the home if they had this option.
- Expand the benefits of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.
The FFCRA provides two-thirds of salary for 10 weeks of leave, but it ends on Dec. 31. Employers who could add to or extend programs like this would retain and provide peace of mind for talented workers.
Workers Need Pathways to a Living Wage
While it’s not always feasible to pay a living wage for every type of job, it is possible to provide a pathway to reach a living wage. Try offering a combination of tangible, worker-centered options to help employees get to where they need to be.
- Start by identifying your “living wage” jobs.
Employers can determine if jobs deliver take-home wages that meet local cost of living standards. MIT has developed a Living Wage Calculator that can suggest good benchmarks.
- Offer as many living wage jobs as possible.
This increases the likelihood that employees will be able to support themselves with less outside distractions. Workers can be more productive, and companies benefit.
- Establish opportunity pathways for “non-living wage” positions.
Provide options for roles that are not designated as living wage jobs – such as promotion paths, access to training and predictable, worker-friendly scheduling – to give employees the flexibility to pursue a living wage through additional means without fear of retribution.
Access to Opportunity Depends on a Broader, More Diverse Talent Pool
Applicant diversity is one of the most overlooked ways to become more inclusive and improve your hiring. Participation in the workforce is important for everyone, and diversity should be a goal on many levels – race, ethnicity, sex, gender identity, age and disability. However, you can expand your applicant diversity even further by including other types of underserved candidates.
- Deflate degree requirements for certain jobs.
Only 1 in 3 Americans above age 25 have a bachelor’s degree, and many companies often seek applicants with formal degrees for jobs that don’t really need them. Assessing and removing these degree standards can help businesses widen their applicant pool, and support workers that have strong intangible skills.
- Help people overcome their past.
A criminal record can reduce the probability of a job callback by 50%. This means the formerly incarcerated often serve a lifetime sentence absent from the workplace because no one will hire them. Companies like MOD Pizza have found that people with a background often perform well because they are motivated by “more than just a paycheck.” Banning the box can help businesses find these motivated candidates, and reduce recidivism. Employers may even be eligible for tax credits for doing so.
The Jobcase Community is a Holistic Approach to Work-life
Improving access to opportunity and workforce participation requires the access and capabilities to empower workers – jobs, online tools, profiles for those with less traditional resumes, resources, and peer support. That’s what Jobcase does. But most importantly, it requires like-minded employers to come and engage with that community: to hire them, to learn from them, to support them. We also partner with nonprofits and government groups to foster upskilling and job placement programs for displaced or disadvantaged workers. This is one of the reasons why Jobs for the Future recently named Jobcase as one of “18 Innovators to Watch,” and why Tim Sackett called us one of “the strongest recruiting technologies in the game right now.”
Join us in this great opportunity. Together, as a community – workers, employers, non-profits, the public sector, and Jobcase – we can make a stronger, more equitable future of work possible.