A new grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will identify the key motivations for small businesses to design better jobs for their workers
WASHINGTON, D.C. – In today’s tight labor market, employers compete for talent and jobs are plentiful. And workers have choices. Historically, two out of three jobs are created by small and medium-sized businesses. With funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the National Fund for Workforce Solutions will work in five U.S. communities to identify the main factors that influence small and medium businesses to design better jobs that improve workers’ economic mobility and also deliver business benefits.
“Too many workers are stuck in jobs that can’t support a family,” said Fred Dedrick, president and CEO of the National Fund for Workforce Solutions. “Across the country, many employers are taking concrete steps to improve their jobs. But to scale these practices and move more workers into good jobs, we need to understand the key motivations for employers to make changes. This new investment from the Gates Foundation will allow us to do just that.”
Under the 18-month, $2.1 million dollar grant, the National Fund will work with five partner communities to make job design changes, learn how best to evaluate the impact of these changes on businesses and workers, and identify the factors that influence employers to prioritize this work.
“A ‘good job’ takes many forms, and varies across business size, industry, and geography. It includes things like wages, scheduling, coaching, child care, training, and recognition,” said Janice Urbanik, senior director for innovation and strategy at the National Fund for Workforce Solutions. “Given that about half of the U.S. workforce is employed by small and medium businesses, understanding why some of them choose to make their jobs better—or why they don’t—could be transformative.”
The five communities are Baltimore, Chicago, Cincinnati, Hartford, and Wichita. Employer partners represent a range of industries, from restaurants and hotels to long-term care providers and advanced manufacturers.
Among these small and mid-sized employers, some will take a human-centered design approach to job quality. Human-centered design puts the people you are trying to serve at the center of the process and includes their perspective at all stages of decision-making.
The National Fund will partner with Washington University in St. Louis and Design Impact in Cincinnati. Community partners include Baltimore Workforce Funders Collaborative, Chicagoland Workforce Funder Alliance, Partners for a Competitive Workforce (Cincinnati), Workforce Solutions Collaborative of Metro Hartford, and Preparation for Advanced Career Employment System (Wichita).
About the National Fund for Workforce Solutions
The National Fund for Workforce Solutions invests in a dynamic national network of 30+ communities taking a demand-driven, evidence-based approach to workforce development. At the local level, the National Fund’s partner organizations contribute resources, test ideas, collect data, and improve public policies and business practices that help all workers succeed and employers have the talent they need to compete. Learn more at www.NationalFund.org.