Showing the Value of Supportive Employment

Introduction

This short guide presents approaches to monitoring and assessing the mission-related impacts of providing training and employment opportunities to individuals who face barriers to employment. Rather than present a list of indicators, we present different methodologies for assessing your efforts and impact that can be applied to different types of projects (and budgets!), and links to those resources.   Approaches to measurement in this area include tracking overall job positions, tracking the support that you provide to employees to be successful, and assessing important outcomes such as skills development, personal grown and well-being, health, economic stability and improved social relationships.

 

We present methods for showing the value according to typical questions that you may want to "know and show".

 

Who do you employ?  How do they progress? If they leave, where do they go?

A starting point for being able to understand and show how you are meeting your social mission is to track information relating to the employment and/or training positions that you offer, who fills them and how people progress in them.

 

Basic data should include tracking the types of positions, the number of people employed in them and their duration. This is likely part of your payroll data.

 

You could also track information that would give insight into your who specifically you are reaching through your program and why they may be leaving.  This may include:

  • reasons for entry and departure.
  • number of employees that meet your social mandate (by position), 
  • information that can create picture of the demographic and risk characteristics of these employees.

 

A DV Spreadsheet tool is available to help you  track this information and can be downloaded from the DV Resources Page: Supportive Employment Tracking Tool.

 

REDF, an investor organization is the US, developed a common set of indicators for use by its portfolio investees.This is described in Webtrack and Beyond: Documenting the Impact of Social Purpose Enterprises.

 

What support do you provide? Is it effective?

Part of understanding how employment in the social enterprise makes a difference in the lives of its employees, is to understand the level and nature of the support that you provide to help these employees be successsful.  This can help you improve the effectiveness of this support and is useful to interprete together with the outcomes such as skills development, personal grown and well-being, health, economic stability and improved social relationships.  It can also be useful to be able to articulate what support you provide in fundraising efforts.  Aspects that you may wish to track include:

  • Referalls and connections to other community supports (within and outside your organization)
  • Activities and events.  For instance, do employees complete wellness plans? Is this done in a timely way. Are employees recognized through events or in other ways?
  • Issue areas in which you support your employees to be successful. DV has a spreadsheet tool that can assist a support worker, counsellor or manager to track support, and can allows for an aggregate picture over time. (see Employment Support Tracking Tool)
  • Budget and expenditures relating to this support.  Tracking these expenditures as a unique line item in your accounting can help you understand the financial picture of enterprise, and specific margins needed to adquately support your employees.

 

Are employees developing useful and transferable skills?

A key part of employment experience is skill development, both what's considered 'hard' skills like technical skills needed to do the job like safe food handling, motor vehicle operation, etc., and 'soft skills' like anger management, hygiene, timeliness, etc.  There are different approaches to monitoring how a position enhances the skills of an employee or trainee. 

A simple approach could be to track the certifications and training achievements of employees (and you set out milestones for your particular program). 

 Other approaches could include:

  1. Observing the person in action at regular intervals.
  2. Asking them what they are able to do or what they are passionate about.
  3. Periodically testing how an employee has progressed over a period of training or work experience.

Ideas for specific soft and hard skill development areas can be found in New Economic Foundation's Proving and Improving Toolkit

 

Are employees improving their well-being?

Personal growth and well-being are pretty big impact areas!  Nevertheless, many people have done a lot of thinking about what this means and looks like, and its possible to adopt specific tools out there to see how the well-being of your employees has changed.  Monitoring and assessment approaches include:

  1. Conducting a 'personal well-being survey'. NEF has a practical gudebook on measuring well being with recommended practical tools:  Measuring Well-being
  2. Assessing changes in ‘high-risk’ behaviour.
  3. Keeping track of how a person’s circumstances may be changing and improving through a Sustainable Livelihoods framework that looks at how people’s assets may be growing in different areas. It can help to show where an individual is now, where they want to go, and how they want to get there. The Tamarack Institute has a useful summary of this framework: The Sustainable Livelihoods Framework: An Overview.  Social enterprises supported by Social Capital Partners and  the Toronto Enterprise Fund have used this framework. Note: Many of the other monitoring areas described in this guidance documentation are also intrinsically connected to personal growth and well-being. Demonstrating Value has also adapted the framework in an Excel Assessment Tool: Sustainable Livelihoods Assessment.

There are many personal well-being assessment tools that have been developed. Research those that may be appropriate to the individuals that you work with. The New Economic Foundation's Proving and Improving Toolkit also has a survey tool that may be useful.

 

Do employees have greater access to shelter?

You can monitor how a person’s access to secure and affordable housing may be changing as a result of their work experience. This can be done by observing or directly asking an individual about their housing situation.

 

Are employees more economically secure?

If you'd like to understand whether your employees are improving their economic situation and better accessing community resources, you could:

  1. Summarize payroll data to show income provided to employees.
  2. Track income levels of target employees (from social enterprise employment + other supports) against the relative cost of living in a region (poverty index).
  3. Track personal economic assets of target employees.
  4. Track knowledge and access to community supports, and knowledge and use of supports offered through the social enterprise.
  5. Review economic indicators at a community level (if you think that you contribute improved economic conditions in a specific georgraphic region).  Statistics Canada has National Household Survey Profiles which provide data for small geographic areas (including city neighbourhoods). Two projects that may be helpful for this are Vital Signs and Genuine Progress Indicators

 

Examples of Community-level  Indicators
  • Poverty
  • Income Distribution
  • Unemployment
  • Underemployment
  • Paid Work
  • Household Work
  • Parenting and Eldercare
  • Free Time
  • Volunteerism
  • Commuting
  • Divorce
  • Crime
  • Problem Gambling
  • Educational Attainment
  • Disposable Income
  • Weekly Wage Rate
  • Personal Expenditure
  • Transportation Expenditure
  • Taxes
  • Savings Rate
  • Household Debt
  • Household Infrastructure

 

Are employees developing positive and reinforcing relationships and supports (Social Capital)

Understanding how somebody's situation may be changing is linked to an individual’s development of healthy social networks that may include personal and family relationships, as well as community supports. Assessing the development  of these relationships can be done by mapping changes in personal and community relationships.

Activities to map social capital can be found on the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension Publications website and the Fieldstone Alliance: Tools you Can Use website.

 

Are employees healthier?

This question is closely related to well-being.  Assessing changes in health could be done both at an individual and community level:

  1. Self-reported and directly observed indicators may provide a picture of a person’s physical or mental health.
  2. Monitoring indicators of community health. You can may be able to use statistics that are currently collected by various agencies (for example Statistics Canada, other levels of government, regional indicator projects), or develop your own data through surveying. The later could be done in conjunction with other organizations who may also be interested in the same data.