BLOG #4 FINANCIAL INSECURITY SERIES: MARTY MILES
FEBRUARY 13, 2018

“Our best job retention comes from those who have engaged in our financial coaching services. They have a financial goal fresh in mind and someone to hold them accountable.” Ben Rogers, Financial Coach — CitySquare, Dallas, TX

If you talk to anyone providing workforce development services, you quickly hear their strong desire to make a difference. They are passionately focused on better results for the individuals they serve — skills, credentials, job readiness, long-term employment in quality jobs, family-sustaining wages.

With the many issues and challenges faced by job seekers or those in low-paying jobs, providing workforce services is hard work! Integrating financial coaching and related services into existing programs — and the time and learning curve associated with that — can appear daunting. Naturally, and understandably, it begs the question: Is it worth it? Does it really make a difference?

The data show that it is and it does! Corporation for a Skilled Workforce’s (CSW) most recent national Workforce Benchmarking Survey indicates that community-based workforce programs offering financial services to their participants had better workforce outcomes that those not offering those services[i]:

  • 7% higher job placement for program completers
  • 18% more placements in full-time jobs
  • 25% more placements in jobs with health benefits
  • 12% higher job retention at six months

Equally important, workforce practitioners emphatically say that it makes a difference! Issue Brief #4: Is the impact Worth It?, by CSW and The Financial Clinic, highlights results experienced by organizations that are part of the Clinic’s WorkBOOST NYC ecosystem in New York City. Workforce practitioners in the Dallas-Ft. Worth region are participating in a similar initiative to integrate services sponsored by the Communities Foundation of Texas — the Working Families Success Network of North Texas[ii]. They echo the positive WorkBOOST NYC experience, with such first-year results as a 76% higher average starting wage for those receiving the most intensive integrated or bundled financial services.

But HOW does the integration of financial security and workforce services lead to better workforce outcomes, while building participants’ financial security? Since many of the Working Families Success Network organizations are also part of CSW’s Workforce Benchmarking Network, we asked two of them! Here are the reflections of Celena Fannin from The Women’s Center in Ft. Worth and Ben Rogers from CitySquare in Dallas:

  • “When we’re able to approach our relationship with participants from the perspective of their financial goals, it’s the best of motivators when they get bogged down in their job search. It really grounds them in the WHY they want or need to work.”
  • “Finances are the great equalizer. Everyone can relate to having financial concerns and can celebrate making progress toward financial goals. It helps to build a spirit of camaraderie and support among both participants and staff that is empowering when faced with job challenges.”
  • “The deeper relationship that financial coaching allows you to build — and the value add of ongoing financial services after employment — allows us to get much better follow-up response to our participant outreach for job search and job retention.”
  • “Our own staff are experiencing the benefit of using the financial coaching tools. They are improving their own credit scores and even buying new homes! This helps their own motivation to stay engaged and work harder for their clients.”

As Celena pointed out, integrating financial coaching into their workforce services has changed her organization’s whole view of “are we making a difference?” It’s not enough to know that someone has obtained or stayed in a job. They’re also now focused on what it will take to help that participant gain the tools for a lifetime of financial security.

“Change is always hard when you’ve been doing workforce services for 30 years. We’re still learning and working to become more confident with financial coaching tools. But it is the right thing to do — and definitely worth it!” Celena Fannin, Assistant Director of Workforce Services — The Women’s Center, Ft. Worth, TX

To learn more about this topic, see Issue Brief #4: Is the Impact Worth It?

To read the full series, see Full Series Issue Briefs

Join the discussion on twitter, @skilledwork_org, @financialclinic #morenotextra #finsec4change #integrate

*This blog is the fourth in a five-part series co-written by Corporation for a Skilled Workforce and The Financial Clinic. Stay tuned for subsequent blogs in this series. www.skilledwork.org www.thefinancialclinic.org

[i] The survey collected aggregate data on demographics, services and outcomes from 259 programs. See http://skilledwork.org/publications/apples-to-apples-2016/

[ii] Established in 2014, the WFSN includes the Communities Foundation of Texas and nine community-based organizations from the Dallas-Ft. Worth region who are committed to aligning services and programming so that families can achieve lasting economic outcomes. See http://wfsnorthtexas.org/

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