Issue: Many low-wage workers have complex needs involving childcare, transportation, housing and health care that could be served by existing service programs, but they don’t know that the programs are available. Additionally, many of these workers qualify for public benefits and need to recertify and meet with multiple case managers.
Possible Solution: Help low-wage workers navigate benefits, childcare logistics, and planning for the future by contracting with a third-party workforce coach to connect them to services, help them manage their public benefits, provide financial coaching and problem-solve around other barriers.
"At Workforce Connection, we help vulnerable employees stay and thrive in the workplace through on-site, personalized coaching and resource navigation. Nine out of 10 employees using this benefit report feeling more stable and secure, and 85% stay on the job a year or more. It’s so rewarding to see an employee successfully overcome their barriers, and to see them transform from struggling employee to high performing employee."
Clean Uniform Requirement
Issue: Clean uniform requirements are a burden on workers who don’t have laundry access in their homes; it can be costly and time consuming to visit a laundromat several times a week and transportation can be an additional barrier.
Possible Solution: Provide an in-house washer and dryer for uniforms, outsource uniform cleaning or provide workers with a week’s worth of uniforms.
Required Safety Gear
Issue: For manufacturing or construction environments, safe, protective footwear, eye protection, and coveralls are often required, but can be expensive for low wage workers to purchase.
Possible Solution: Provide an allowance for workers to purchase necessary and required safety gear or use the company’s purchasing power to provide a discount.
Required Professional Dress
Issue: For more formal office environments, professional dress is expensive to purchase and often requires dry-cleaning.
Possible Solution: Consider providing an initial, small stipend to help with the purchase of professional dress, or connect low wage workers to organizations which help outfit low-income individuals with work-appropriate attire.
Publicize Employee Assistance Programs
Issue: Company Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) already have many services that would be helpful to low-wage workers, but few people know they are even offered.
Publicize the company’s EAP at team meetings and in common spaces like the lunchroom and restrooms. Market the services offered through the EAP at various times throughout the year and emphasize confidentiality so that all employees will trust the process and be more likely to use it.