Develop a social and financial support network to break the cyclical patterns of poverty to improve employee productivity and well-being. Download our whitepaper for more details on how to get started at your organization.
What is it?
Working Bridges is a collaborative effort by progressive employers in Chittenden County Vermont to facilitate the development and implementation of innovative workplace practices to improve employee productivity, retention, advancement, and financial stability. Rhino Foods has assumed a leadership role in this collaboration — piloting several workplace practices under the Working Bridges concept that have been extremely successful.
Our efforts have had discernable positive results for our employees and for the company. As important, the word is spreading and more companies are taking up elements of Working Bridges for their companies. In April 2013, PBS’s Need to Know program interviewed Rhinos for a segment on behavior economics. The resulting segment aired April 5th: Need to Know: Working Bridges.
The productivity, retention, advancement ambition, and financial stability of many employees are largely impacted by factors that exist outside of the workplace. While the physical and/or emotional influences (e.g. family, health, financial, etc.) originate outside of work, they readily create repercussions that enter into the workplace. As a result, efforts that aim to help employees manage these factors present an opportunity to empower employees at work by empowering them outside of it.
What did we do?
In 2007, Rhino Foods began work with the United Way of Chittenden County on a new concept called “The Working Bridges Program.” The program was aimed at bridging the communication gap between employers, managers, and employees living at or below the poverty line. Rhino assumed a leadership role in the Working Bridges Program. Several new programs have been created and implemented as a result of the project including an Income Advance Loan program, Financial Literacy training, an on-site Resource Coordinator, and Bridges out of PovertyTM training for supervisors.
- Employee turnover dropped from 37% to below 15% in three years.
- Over 30 Rhino employees attended Bridges out of Poverty training. Developed by Ruby Paine and her company aHa! Process, the training provides a framework for understanding economic class and the workplace. This training has been the critical foundation for the creation of additional programs at Rhino.
- A new Income Advance Loan program was developed and implemented. In the past five years this has resulted in $236,000 in short-term loans to employees to address various needs. The program has also started many employees on a path of building credit and improving their financial stability.
- By late 2012, the Income Advance Loan program has been adopted by twenty-five other Vermont companies and is spreading as a model to other parts of the nation.
- An on-site Resource Coordinator is available weekly to all shifts to connect employees with local and state resources and to assist in completing paperwork. The Resource Coordinator is shared by several local businesses, allowing us to meet on-site needs cost-effectively.