Are we underselling the value of employment services?
Deakin University Associate Professor of Human Resource Management, Jo Ingold, has spent decades researching employment services in the UK, Australia, Denmark and around the world.
With a focus on increasing employer engagement with employment services, as well as how employment services can foster that engagement, she is a true trailblazer of the future.
And the future, in her eyes, should be much more human.
Jo Ingold spoke with ReadyTech CEO Marc Washbourne on the Ready Podcast about some of the problems faced around the globe with today’s Active Labour Market Programs.
Here are six suggestions from the conversation that you can take as an employment services provider or employer - to both improve provider outcomes, and create better work opportunities for the unemployed.
1. Focus on relationships
The very human relationship triangle that exists between employment services providers, employers and candidates is crucial to success. While this may sound obvious, the human connection can be overlooked in policymaking or the building of service models.
Moving from transactional, instrumental engagement of employers to more in-depth, sustainable relationships that build trust is key. This involves better a understanding the employer’s organisation and industry, and not overpromising and underdelivering.
2. Engage your employers
The bulk of employers do not know about employment services or about the value it can provide. Thy can also be overwhelmed by the number of different programs and providers, or may have had historical bad experiences that have tarnished their views of the service.
Employment services providers can mitigate this problem by building trust with employers, but also focusing more on the real value they provide employers, by taking a strengths-based approach to candidates rather than one highlighting deficits.
3. Sell candidate strengths
The recruitment and talent acquisition approaches of employers often focus on what candidates don’t have, rather than what they do. Likewise, employment services providers are not adept in uncovering and selling the hidden talents their clients may possess.
By moving towards a focus on strengths rather than deficits, the employment services and employer market in Australia can better support employers in need of critical skills, and support employees to achieve their potential.
4. Build systemic trust
Active Labour Market Programs, both in Australia and in countries like the UK, have resulted in some cases in employees being repeatedly churned through low value jobs that do not offer good chances of security or progression, which ends up tarnishing the whole system.
To combat this, some employment service providers in Denmark have chosen not to work with some employers, as they take the view not just any job is good enough; a job needs to align better with candidate values and the aim of dignity, hope and purpose in work.
5. Watch your language
Are you still calling your caseloads 'jobseekers?' Employment services providers and policymakers should consider whether the language being used to describe job candidates is a label attached to them that does not their support success.
Many providers have moved towards recognising their caseloads culturally as their clients, or their customers. Such a move, in addition to a focus on their strengths, supports the provision of services that treat people with the dignity they deserve.
6. Foster dignity, hope and purpose
Jo Ingold thinks that, if she could change one thing about the world, it would be to create the conditions where we could enable everyone to realise their potential in work, whether that is in employment services, or more broadly, more inclusive workplaces in general.
To ReadyTech, this comes down to ensuring dignity, hope and purpose in work. Rather than creating low value employment outcomes, she argues we could work together to offer alignment with talent strengths and better environments where talent can flourish.