“My mom fires people.”
This is how eight-year-old Hannah Miller described her mother’s job to her third-grade class on career day.
“I was pretty mortified,” Jessica Miller told me later over coffee. “Of all the things I do on a daily basis, that’s the one that she picked as her lead.”
Today’s HR pros are some of the busiest people in the organization. Regulations grow more complex, talent development is a top priority, and a tight job market means that it’s tougher than ever to find great people who are a good culture fit. There are so many things to think about, including:
- Resolving Interpersonal Issues
- Workers Compensation
- Compliance and Reporting
- Talent Strategy
- Training and Development
- Culture Management
The range of tasks and initiatives that fall under the umbrella of Human Resources is expanding, but typically budgets and staffing levels are staying put, leading to a constant sense of too much work and not enough time. It’s always a matter of trying to do more with less, and finding ways to expand service without increasing staff.
Jessica, like most people in the field, took the job because she likes working with people. And most days it’s not the terminations that keep her up at night, it’s the lack of ability to address all the needs that exist.
“I don’t have enough time to do all of the things that are on my plate already,” she says, shaking her head.
For employers with a large cohort of frontline workers, this challenge increases exponentially. When paychecks barely cover the cost of basic needs, low wage workers must patch together other resources to meet their needs, and those of their families. And when those patchwork solutions are stressed, they come apart at the seams, leaving gaps that can have an impact that rebounds into the workplace.
When an employee has an unexpected problem, such as a child care issue or a medical bill, at a minimum the stress of that situation impacts their ability to focus at work. At worst it might cause them to have to miss time or lose their job entirely. These personal issues are technically not the responsibility of HR, but as Jessica has learned, just because it’s not listed in your job description, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t end up on your desk.
“I try to find a way to help,” she says, “but often I don’t have time, or I don’t know how I can help other than to be sympathetic. It’s a fine line because even though I understand that this might not be the employee’s fault, if it interferes with their work, there are still consequences.”
In a perfect world, everyone would make enough money to cover all of their basic needs, and have savings for emergencies. Cars would never break down, and no one would ever get sick. But our world isn’t perfect, so it’s not a matter of whether an issue will arise, but when, and how that issue gets managed.
For people like Jessica, that means trying to find ways to help, even when it means putting one more thing on an already full plate.
As more employers recognize the value of helping their employees meet some of these challenges, new options have emerged to help Jessica and her HR colleagues provide solutions that speak directly to the issues of financial stability. One of the emerging trends for employers of frontline workers is the Sustainable Workforce Model.
The Sustainable Workforce Model provides employers, through a fee-for-service model, with a workplace benefit uniquely dedicated to helping employees find solutions to both work and life challenges which impact their level of engagement at work.
For Jessica, this changes the game.
Maria, a single mother with two kids, works full-time for Jessica’s company. She has been relying on her family to help out with childcare during her shifts, but a recent health issue caused this system to fall apart. Struggling to find a way to make things work, Maria mentioned the challenge to her manager when she had to miss a day of work. Listening with compassion, her supervisor referred her to the Resource Navigator that Jessica’s company recently brought on board through their relationship with Worklife Partnership.
When another employee’s car broke down and she needed financial assistance to cover the loan, rather than having Jessica try to research options, she simply referred the worker to the onsite Resource Navigator.
The Resource Navigator bridges the gap between community resources, such as food banks, credit unions, fuel assistance programs, and other tools, to help find a solution that’s tailored to the individual needs of each person.
“The Resource Navigator connected me with a childcare program, and worked with me to complete the application for financial assistance,” said Maria. “Knowing my kids are safe and well cared-for means I can make sure I’m 100% focused on work.”
By providing these solutions directly, the Resource Navigator helps employees find the resources they need, while also allowing HR professionals like Jessica to keep their focus on their core responsibilities. It creates a win-win by helping employees stay on-the-job through circumstances that might otherwise force them to miss time at work, helping the organization reduce turnover, and helping the HR resources focus on their jobs.
Read our recent case study on how Gorilla Glue is leveraging the Sustainable Workforce Model in Cincinnati!