Five regional employers have partnered with Southwest Initiative Foundation to launch Minnesota’s first Employer Resource Network®, an innovative approach to workforce development.
Southwest Minnesota is experiencing a workforce shortage. Unemployment rates are between 3 and 4 percent for the areas this program serves, and the inability to recruit and retain employees is impacting our economy. At the same time, employees face barriers to finding career success and providing for themselves and their families.
ERNs are a solution to both: They assist companies in supporting working families while driving business growth. Southwest Initiative Foundation is using a model developed in Michigan in 2007 called Employer Resource Network® USA. This model combines job retention services, work supports, education and training. It assists employees in successfully navigating work and personal situations and employers in developing and retaining talent. ERNs also work with community service providers like social service agencies, workforce development groups, chambers of commerce, economic development groups and community and technical colleges or other training institutions.
How it works
Employer Resource Network® member companies pay for access to an on-site network Success Coach who works directly with employees as a coach, advocate and connector. Nationwide, member companies average a 500 percent return on their investment based on job turnover rates, the cost of skill building and training and increased productivity.
The Success Coach assists with a wide range of challenges and opportunities—both work-related and personal, which can include:
- Accessing child care
- Dealing with financial pressures
- Budgeting, banking or building a credit score
- Affordable housing options
- Transportation and car repairs
- Applying for other programs
- Locating counseling
- Managing conflicts with family/co-workers
- Training, education or career advancement
Together, the Success Coach and employees set goals, access resources and explore supports that will help them excel at work and beyond.
Meet Our Success Coach
Jean Spaulding is an employee of Southwest Initiative Foundation and spends her time onsite with our current Southwest Initiative Employer Resource Network® member companies. Jean meets with employees in this newly launched network to identify issues they’re facing and make a personal connection to resources and assistance to help them excel at work and at home. She also builds relationships with supporting community organizations and service providers.
A Perfect Match for
Grow Our Own
ERNs match both short- and long-term economic development strategies for our communities, businesses, families and kids—from cradle to career. The model is a great fit for Grow Our Own, our work to ensure that all southwest Minnesota kids can access the opportunities they need to reach their full potential.
We know that one of the things kids need to succeed is stable families and parenting. Through ERNs, workers gain economic self-sufficiency and build wealth for themselves and their families. They also can access the supports they need to provide safe, nurturing environments for the kids in their lives.
Career on-ramps are another key to our kids’ success. ERNs help our southwest Minnesota employers develop and retain talent, ensuring we’ll continue to have strong regional businesses as young people prepare for and enter the workforce.