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Employee Assistance/Support Programs

What is it? This approach aims to minimize work disruptions and absenteeism and improve workers’ financial stability by offering confidential and customized support around life issues that interfere with work. Employee assistance programs have only recently become part of local workforce system services. 

Who provides it? Nonprofit organizations in partnership with employers. 

One of the first employee support organizations to implement this approach was the SOURCE in Grand Rapids, Michigan, which began when a group of manufacturing employers came together to address the child care needs of entry-level employees. Several similar efforts were later developed in communities across the country and called the “sustainable workforce model.” In 2015, four nonprofit organizations—the SOURCE (Grand Rapids, MI), WorkLife Partnership (Denver, CO), Connect for Success (Seattle, WA), and Working Bridges (northwest Vermont)—came together to form a replication network called WorkLab Innovations, with support from the Rockefeller Foundation and the consulting firm FSG.

Why is it important? Entry-level and low-wage workers can face many barriers to performing in and maintaining their employment. Simultaneously, key issues for employers include absenteeism and turnover, which can affect the bottom line. Employers may not be able to identify the issues that cause problems like absenteeism and turnover, nor may they be positioned to provide the kinds of support workers require to overcome these challenges. The sustainable workforce model is designed to bring a third-party nonprofit provider that is better able to help employers reduce workplace issues and increase productivity.