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Employment Services

10 processes of change that get jobseekers into work

Work readiness is not a given for employment services providers in the NESM era. It’s more likely Enhanced Services jobseekers will face a range of complex vocational and non-vocational barriers, making it more difficult to slot them into new roles – and they will be less likely to stick them out.


This is where the transtheoretical model of behaviour change can help.


As Esher House describes in detail here, jobseekers sit on a scale of psychological readiness for work, ranging from being ‘resistant’ (in pre-contemplation or contemplation stages of behavioural change) right through to being ‘actors’, who are fully ready for diving into work.


To get jobseekers into work, it’s necessary to move them towards action (while working with other non-psychological barriers).


But how?


Behind the stages of behaviour change sit 10 ‘processes’ of change. They are the activities that get people moving from one stage to the next (and are some of what Esher House uses to help job seekers make progress, either through in-person workshops or digital activation modules).


Here’s an explanation of these 10 processes.


  • Consciousness raising

Consciousness raising means ‘getting the facts’ about the situation. By gaining increasing information about themselves and their barriers, jobseekers can move forward from a position of understanding. Observations, confrontations, interpretations and bibliotherapy can help.


  • Dramatic relief

Experiencing and expressing feelings about problems and solutions is a necessary step for individuals to change behaviour. Through the likes of psychodrama, grieving losses and role playing, job seekers pay closer attention to the feelings they are experiencing around the situation.


  • Environmental reevaluation

Job seekers often benefit from noticing how they are affecting others in their environment. By considering how they are impacting their physical environment through the likes of empathy training or documentaries, they can increase their awareness of the need for change.


  • Self-reevaluation

Moving from the early stages of behavioural change requires some effort to ‘create a new self-image’. This means being able to assess how one feels and thinks about oneself with respect to the problem or challenge. Value clarification, imagery and corrective emotional experiences can assist.


  • Self-liberation

Self-liberation is about ‘making a commitment’. Jobseekers take the important bridging step of choosing to act or having the belief in their ability to change. This is the realm of decision-making therapy, New Year’s Resolutions (or tiny habits), logotherapy or commitment enhancing techniques.


  • Social liberation

‘Noticing public support’ is equally important. This is a step in which those seeking to change their behaviour increase the alternatives for non-problem behaviours available in society. Some examples include advocating for the rights of the repressed, empowerment or policy interventions.


  • Reinforcement

When behaviours have moved towards the ‘action’ or ‘maintenance’ phases, ‘using rewards’ can help reinforce positive change. Rewarding oneself or being rewarded by others for making change can be supported by things like contingency contracts, overt and covert reinforcement or self-reward.


  • Helping relationships

‘Getting support’ is a big part of the change process. It’s why having a psychologist onsite is very effective. Jobseekers benefit from being open and trusting about problems with someone who cares, and this can come through a therapeutic alliance, social support and self-help groups.


  • Counter-conditioning

Jobseekers can support change by ‘using substitutes’. By substituting alternatives for problem behaviours – like relaxation, desensitisation, assertion or positive self-statements – they can engage in counter-conditioning in ways that support continued positive change.


  • Stimulus control

Stimulus in the environment is very important. By ‘managing the environment’, people can avoid or counter stimuli that elicit problem behaviours. The environment can be restructured to remove temptation and high risk cues. People can gradually improve through fading techniques.


The 10 process of change and employment services


The experienced employment services reader will observe the activities listed above are in some kind of order. From top to bottom, they match the needs of jobseekers as they move from a pre-contemplation phase of behavioural change to where we want them – action and maintenance.


‘Resistant’ jobseekers (pre-contemplators and contemplators) respond better to interventions that areconsciousness-raising’, (finding out new facts, ideas, resources and strategies), and that help them ‘re-evaluate their environment’ (so they can realise the positive impact of jobseeking behaviours and the negative impact of cycles of non job searching). They also respond well to ‘dramatic relief exercises’ (addressing the fears and anxiety associated with changing or not changing behaviour and the positive emotions that accompany jobseeking behaviour).


Contemplators, unauthentic actors and preparers, meanwhile, are more likely to see progress from the likes of ‘self-re-evaluation activities’, as they realise a job or jobseeking behaviour is an important part of their identity. Preparers and actors are most engaged by ‘self-liberation activities’ where they believe in their ability to change and make commitments based upon those beliefs. Action-based activities such as resume writing, interview skills, job search skills and vocational qualifications are most effective here, though preparation participants may need more intense encouragement.


The important thing is to match the activities undertaken to the individual jobseeker's psychological readiness for work.


Interested in learning more about how we help employment services providers activate, support, place and retain jobseekers? Learn more here.