Workforce solutions: Innovative workplace programming
Here’s what the experts had to say
Minnesota business leaders are struggling with workforce challenges, making the engagement of underrepresented demographics in the workforce an economic imperative. As part of the Workforce Solutions Series, a group of business leaders shared information on the workforce barriers they’ve identified and the community partnerships and innovative solutions they’ve developed to attract, support and retain immigrants.
- Amy Delis, VP of Human Resources, Bix Produce
- Lisa Perez, Founder & CEO at Prosperity Ready
- Cathy Rucci, Executive Director at MORE
- Moderated by: Whitney Harvey, Senior Director of Workforce Diversity and Inclusion
Amy Delis, VP of Human Resources, Bix Produce
On forming community partnerships
Amy Delis: How it really started for us at Bix was finding community partners to help us reach the communities in our neighborhood that we wouldn't otherwise be able to reach. Those folks that aren't looking at ads on Indeed but that are using our community partners for support for themselves and their families. That was really the key for me in developing the community partnerships, was to find organizations that help me find potential labor that could get to these folks that I couldn't otherwise get to. It started that way, but it became so much more. You're going to hear about that today, about what our community partners can do for Bix and do for our team members and their family. It's blossomed into one of the most important solutions that we have today to staffing and supporting our team members is our community partnerships.
On offering English classes to employees
AD: We've been offering English classes partnering with MORE for more than four years. We offer classes before and after team member shifts. We do pay them to attend. We found that attendance is much better if we pay them for their time. We have gotten to the place where we have beginner and intermediate-level classes being offered. I think one of the keys or most important things about offering onsite English classes are the instructors. That's really what MORE has been able to offer us is incredible instructors that are clearly passionate about helping our team members to learn English and to be confident with their new language skills.
On offering translation services to employees
AD: Another strategy that's been very effective for us is providing translation. I'm sure a lot of you already do this, but the key for us is that we hire professional translators to come in and provide on-the-job training. We've found translators that will come in and go out onto the floor like you saw in the video where they were cutting fruit and will help do on-the-job training for those that don't speak English, or if we don't have a leader or supervisor that speaks that particular language, they help us with process and policy education. They help us with cultural understanding, both ways, us maybe understanding a new culture of that particular group or culture, and understanding our expectations and our policies and help to provide performance feedback of our leaders. It's important for that translation service, but it also helps the team member, again, to feel valued and feel confident in their work.
Lisa Perez, Founder & CEO at Prosperity Ready
On the work of Prosperity Ready
Lisa Perez: We connect talented immigrants directly with employer partners who are serious about developing a culture that will help advance the careers of the people that we have connections with, very much as Bix Produce is doing.
On creating a talent pipeline
LP: Once word gets out in the immigrant community that you are a great place to work. It's the best free talent pipeline strategy ever. We've got other employer partners, Japs-Olson Company is an employer partner of Prosperity Ready. Word is out in the Afghan immigrant community that they're a great place to work and they have this like Bix does, it's a talent pipeline that's constantly streaming into the organization. So I would say in terms of impact on company culture, and just how your business runs and your talent acquisition strategy, it's a huge positive impact.
Cathy Rucci, Executive Director at MORE
On advice to create inclusive workplaces
Cathy Rucci: There's something that we do here at MORE. We have seen it time and time again where really good-hearted people come to MORE and because their participants aren't able to communicate with them and speak English, they start to kind of treat them like children. We have really worked on our culture here at MORE to come from a place of what we call presumed competence, where these folks have been through a lot and they have gotten themselves here to this point, and they are smart and savvy and strong, and let's treat them like that.
On the work of MORE
CR: I happened to come into MORE and heard one of our more beginning-level students trying to tell her teacher that she wasn't going to be able to come to class anymore because she had to go back to work. That kind of queued me up and I asked, where do you work at? And she told me, and I was like, we should be providing English classes there. So we reached out to that company and had a meeting with them already...We can really individualize the curriculum for the employer.
Interested in workforce issues?
Minnesota’s workforce is growing increasingly diverse, making workplace inclusion a business imperative. Workforce inclusion goes beyond hiring diverse candidates. In this series, we will provide practical solutions to making your business a place where employees’ unique strengths contribute to the organization’s culture. The upcoming Workforce Solutions Series on August 10 will delve into the importance of setting the tone at the top and provide tips and tools for leading inclusively