WorkLab Innovations, LLC has received a $775,000 grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to replicate its Sustainable Workforce Model in three major U.S. cities. Through the grant, the national nonprofit will leverage its successes in its founding member sites to implement its groundbreaking program in Chicago, Cincinnati, and Detroit.
The Model allows businesses to rethink their benefits offerings to frontline workers, leading to lower rates of absenteeism, better worker retention, and improved job quality. A reoccurring worker issue—finding affordable child care for working parents—will be explored through this grant in partnership with Care.com.
“After eight years, reaching 44,000 workers operating the model in Denver under WorkLife Partnership to our employer membership, we are excited to be able to support the replication of this work so that other working families can find dignity and opportunity in their jobs,” said Liddy Romero, founder and executive director of WorkLife Partnership, and managing director of WorkLab Innovations.
“We are bringing a different kind of benefit into the workplace that focuses on the exact needs of frontline workers. By addressing the total well-being of struggling workers, we help improve retention, productivity, and engagement while also supporting self-sufficiency through improved job quality.”
The Sustainable Workforce Model is a fee-for-service program, and centers on the work of resource navigators, who provide confidential, one-on-one assistance to employees of member employers. These navigators help employees gain greater personal stability, connecting them with community resources related to childcare, transportation, housing, food assistance, and career and financial counseling.
“For a frontline or low-wage employee, an unexpected medical expense, broken-down car, or shift change at work can completely disrupt a person’s life—even jeopardizing one’s ability to make a living,” Romero said. “This also affects employers, who must deal with low retention rates and high training costs for frontline positions. Our program gives workers the resources and capacity to overcome life’s challenges and stay employed, eventually moving up within the businesses that employ them.”
WorkLab Innovations was initiated through a Clinton Global Initiative Commitment to Action in June 2015. Its four founding members—Connect for Success, The SOURCE, Working Bridges, and WorkLife Partnership—have a combined 30 years’ experience in operating the model in local markets. The new grant represents a significant step forward in developing a national network of practitioners and employer members.
The W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF), founded in 1930 as an independent, private foundation by breakfast cereal pioneer, Will Keith Kellogg, is among the largest philanthropic foundations in the United States. Guided by the belief that all children should have an equal opportunity to thrive, WKKF works with communities to improve conditions for vulnerable children so they can realize their full potential in school, work, and life. The Kellogg Foundation is based in Battle Creek, Michigan, and works throughout the United States and internationally, as well as with sovereign tribes. Special emphasis is paid to priority places where there are high concentrations of poverty and where children face significant barriers to success. WKKF priority places in the U.S. are in Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico, and New Orleans; internationally, they focus especially in Mexico and Haiti.
WorkLab Innovations supports local community-based organizations across the U.S. to partner with business to scale innovative talent strategies that improve retention, attendance, engagement, and productivity; collectively, they contribute to a thriving workforce that benefits employers, employees, and the community alike. Our activities are to share best practices for implementing the Sustainable Workforce Model through our Community of Learning, and help communities form, successfully launch, and grow employer-led collaborative efforts using the approach. Replication sites are underway at Chicago’s OAI, Inc., Cincinnati’s Workforce Connection, and Goodwill Industries of Greater Detroit.