Even in a Pandemic, a Good Job Is Still a Competitive Advantage
The recent outbreak of the novel coronavirus has sent financial markets into chaos and raised fears about the long-term economic impacts of effectively putting the world on pause. Workers in every part of the economy will be affected, and the damage to small businesses will likely outlast the virus. Policies that incentivize employee retention can lessen the economic burden on workers and ensure that businesses survive this crisis. Keeping workers during a crisis not only maintains their economic stability, it builds long term competitive business advantage as well. During the Great Recession, Universal Woods – a manufacturer of hard surface panels (used in flooring and other products) based in Louisville, Kentucky – managed to do just that. With low wage workers and small businesses most vulnerable to the economic impact of COVID-19, employers who maintain their workforce may do better in the long term.
President’s Corner – A Message from Our New President and CEO
I never imagined that I would start my tenure at the National Fund amid a global pandemic and an emerging economic crisis and all-but-certain recession. When I joined the National Fund just four weeks ago, I was particularly excited about the organization’s long track record of forming and scaling industry partnerships, being on the leading edge of job quality, and adopting a new priority around racial equity. Now that we are in the midst of this crisis and facing a new economic reality, these strategies are more important than ever.
We know that industries are being impacted differently by this crisis, and that impact will be felt across different timelines. From all across our network, we have over a decade of evidence showing that when sectors and industries come together around local solutions to labor and workforce challenges, they get better results. We also know that job quality must be an integral part of getting people back to work and getting businesses back up and running. If not, we’ll be back where we were before this crisis started, with far too many Americans working hard and not getting by. Finally, we know that the impact of this crisis won’t be equally distributed. After the 2008 recession, women and people of color became further entrenched in poverty, unable to access resources and programs set up to respond to the economic downturn.
We’ve all been forced to rethink who frontline workers are, but the National Fund’s commitment to these workers—and to the businesses and communities they’re connected to—remains unchanged.
Get to Know Amanda Cage
Amanda Cage officially joined the National Fund as president and CEO at the beginning of March, when we sat down with her for a wide ranging discussion. We covered everything from her background in labor organizing in Chicago, to the current state of television. Take some time to learn about Amanda and her vision for the future of the National Fund.
Meet Janell Thomas, Director of Worker Success
Before working at the National Fund, I worked for a public health organization whose primary focus was to develop people and organizations to produce health through equitable policies, programs, and practices.
I worked with large and small employers to shift their culture into an equitable workplace by understanding the employers’ perspective and the employees’ experience. This involved having tough conversations about existing power dynamics and the actions needed to create sustainable change.
I learned how powerful leveraging a network of experts can be when creating change through my work as a regional team leader for the Office for Victims of Crime, where we provided training and technical assistance.
My vision is to share equitable approaches and new entryways to employers. I am enthusiastic about utilizing the power of the network to break systemic barriers that can often prevent the successes we aim to see. I am looking forward to working with this network and the broader workforce development community.
Peer-Learning in Action
Peer-learning is at the heart of CareerSTAT. It helped to establish the network as a go-to resource for frontline healthcare workforce development. To help organizations in the peer-led network accelerate the adoption of best practices for investing in frontline workers, CareerSTAT launched the Healthcare Workforce Development Academy in 2017. In late January, representatives from 16 healthcare organizations in the newest cohort of the Academy met in Charlotte, North Carolina, to start their Academy journey. Get an inside look at the power of peer-learning and read about the newest Academy cohort.
COVID-19 Resources and Updates
There’s a lot of information out there related to this pandemic and the response. The National Fund has been sifting through it. Here are some top resources and statements from our friends and affiliates.
Good Jobs Institute
COVID-19 worker relief funds, company actions, and impact on frontline workers
The COVID-19 corporate response tracker: How America’s largest employers are treating stakeholders amid the coronavirus crisis
National Skills Coalition
Analysis: Third stimulus package lacks comprehensive strategy to respond to urgent workforce needs today
Business Leaders United
Responding to the crisis before us
National Fund for Workforce Solutions
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