What Information/Data Needs to be Collected and Used?
Data and information are said to be the "Breakfast of Champions." In the complex world of VR, data may well be breakfast, lunch, and dinner! How we manage information can mean the difference between success and failure in engaging businesses.
Information management concerns a cycle of organizational activity: the acquisition of information from one or more sources, the keeping and distribution of that information to those who need it, and its ultimate disposition through archiving or deletion (Wikipedia).
The following discussion provides guidance on the use of information to build and strengthen VR-business relationships. When planning information systems, state vocational rehabilitation agencies (SVRAs) need to think of the path that the information or data must travel to accomplish intended objectives, the variety of users and their needs, and the ease of access for each of the user segments. Read our ReviewVR brief from the Business Engagment Data Community of Practice that outlines solutions and strategies from state VR agencies discussions including: key data elements, strategies for data collection, and lessons learned.
While technology serves as a vehicle for data collection, storage, and access, it is not the whole story of information management. The people and decision-making processes tell the rest of the tale.
What information is mission-critical?
- Labor market and economic indicators
- Needs & goals of business customers
- Activities and outcomes of SVRA-business relationships
- Needs & goals of VR consumers
- Business customer satisfaction data
Who needs it?
- Think of multiple users/audiences
- SVRA administrators & managers
- SVRA direct service staff
- Consumers & business customers
What will they do with it?
- Make decisions
- Act on it to meet needs & achieve goals
Creating Business Accounts
The 23rd Institute on Rehabilitation Issues, Developing Effective Partnerships with Employers as a Service Delivery Mechanism (June 1997) provides recommendations and specific content for establishing business accounts and tracking outcomes.
The development of a business account system is both a symbolic and a practical step in recognizing the employer as a customer in need of development, maintenance, and care. The relationship with a business should be documented as conscientiously as the VR consumer case record. Each business record should contain all pertinent information needed to develop, maintain, and grow the partnership.
It is important that this information is easily accessible and continually upgraded. This upgrading will ensure timely and accurate service, while demonstrating VR's attitude toward the employer's importance in the partnership.
The ability to post and share vacancies with other offices throughout the state demonstrates your willingness to serve the best interest of the business. Additionally, VR represents a national resource. Sharing listings with VR agencies from other states serves to enhance viability to the employer (see Talent Acquisition Portal).
The business account starts with the names of the company and VR account representative, and contains all relevant information.
The account representative operates as the primary conduit of information between the VR system and the business. Any changes in the plan or additional moves not dictated by the employer account should be cleared with the account representative. Changing account representatives requires the same transfer of information as the changing of a consumer's VR counselor.
What is a NAICS code? The North American Industry Classification System is the federal system for categorizing businesses by industry. The first two digits of a NAICS code indicate a firm's broad industry, and the full six-digit code defines a more detailed industry cluster. Because it is used by many federal agencies, the NAICS code is a popular classification used by many private organizations as well.
Business contact information
The names of all business contact people, their positions, phone numbers, fax numbers, e-mail addresses, and other relevant data will help keep the company accessible for future correspondence. Indicate the primary contact person for the business and preferences related to availability.
Positions within the company
A listing of all positions/ job classifications within a company will help consumers prepare for employment in the future. If your agency already has placements established with organization, tracking these job titles could be helpful for your business account managers. In addition, you may wish to list high demand positions as identified by a given employer. This information will also help VR staff counsel consumers about potential openings.
Salaries and benefits offered
A simple listing of all benefits and salaries will help in the referral process. This information is valuable as employment opportunities are compared.
Work schedules available
This information will inform job seekers of the hours of operation and work shifts at the business. Notes may be included about entry level hours and preferred schedules for tenured employees.
Demographics of employees
Employee demographics give VR staff and consumers a quick look at the type of individual being hired by the company. This information will help prepare the VR staff to understand the culture of the company. This understanding may also be helpful as the VR staff offers additional services and consultations.
Names of VR clients hired with the business
Names of past employees with disabilities, referred by VR, serve as a demonstration of value when the client was successful and a demonstration of what to avoid when the client was not successful. VR's willingness to learn from past mismatches may be as valuable to the employer as a history of success. Previous hires may also be able to serve as references for clients or provide first-hand information about the company and its culture.
Services provided/nature of the partnership
A listing of all services provided or planned to help grow the partnership is important. A successful partnership is based on more than a few placements; VR can provide significant information and expertise that can benefit the employer. ADA and Family Medical Leave Act information, diversity training, reasonable accommodations, and other human resource functions as they relate to disabilities are areas where business can benefit from VR expertise.
A system established to remind VR staff about necessary correspondence and follow-up activities demonstrates organization and follow-through to the business. Included in this section should be a narrative regarding conversations requiring follow-up or response.
A section listing personal data that may help break the ice in future conversations is extremely helpful. Sales people often note personal information that they go back to for use in future conversations. Hobbies, interests, family information, difficult situations, and successes will demonstrate to the business that the account representative is listening and interested. It is also valuable to save any relevant articles from newspapers, magazines, or other sources that demonstrate knowledge of the company.
The Business Account System is an excellent tool for maintaining and growing a successful partnership with potential or current employers. A well-maintained and upgraded system will serve as a valuable marketing tool for future services and client information. Employers have stated that maintaining accurate, timely, and efficient contact is essential to a lasting relationship. A successful partnership requires an organized approach, with upgraded data used effectively. Kevin Red, Information Systems Manager at the University of Arkansas, developed and shared an Excel spreadsheet template that can be stored in Google Docs as a tool to collaboratively edit and track business data. As many SVRAs were looking at ways to show that they are currently doing business engagement activities using a low- or no-cost tool, several agencies adapted this spreadsheet to help manage the information they intended to collect. Users commented that they found it helpful as a beginning effort to develop a more robust system for collecting and analyzing business engagement data.
- Download the original tracking tool template
- View the tracking tool as adapted by:
An example of another business accounts tracking tool is demonstrated by Vermont Salesforce. A number of states across the country are using technology to track information acquired from business customers. Some SVRAs use a commercial software product, others develop their own databases or simple spreadsheets, and some create a hybrid of customized commercial options. Two examples are provided here.
SalesForce Demo with Hugh Bradshaw from VT DVR
Texas Workforce Commission VR Business Relations Tracking Demo
Remember, though, that technology is only part of the solution. People and processes determine whether a business account tech solution works for an agency or not. Decisions about who enters and has access to the information, what information is gathered, and how it is used must be aligned with the agency's vision, values, and structural model.
Some recommendations for the content of a business account record are presented in the Models & Functions section.
Case Management Systems
Every SVRA is required to keep case documentation for each applicant and client receiving VR services. There are common data elements necessary for federal reporting, but no requirement to track qualifications and availability for work. This is where consumer information becomes critical to maintaining reliable relationships with business.
If a potential employer needs workers with specific skill sets in a particular location, the SVRA must be able to refer applicants quickly – or to let the business know honestly, in real time, that none are available. An efficient process and accurate, timely information about qualified, available potential employees will contribute to a respected reputation in the business community. We must create systems and processes that provide truthful supply data to meet labor demands.
Does your agency’s website provide information about services VR can offer to businesses?
Consumer Talent Banks
Without an intermediary like a VR counselor, consumers can use established networks such as Monster, CareerBuilder, or Indeed for independent job searches. But while that might meet the consumers' needs, it does little to enhance the SVRA's relationship with businesses, and it does not provide one location for employers (such as federal contractors) to find applicants with disabilities. An alternative might be using the Talent Acquisition Portal (TAP) to track job-ready consumers.
The TAP was developed by the Council of State Administrators of Vocational Rehabilitation (CSAVR) to connect vocational rehabilitation job-seekers with businesses looking to hire qualified candidates. Through TAP, businesses can post open positions, search candidate resumes, capture job metrics, generate compliance reports, interview candidates, hold online career fairs, and have their jobs seen by individuals with disabilities across the country.
TAP: Inviting, Re-inviting and Checking the Status of an Invite with Kristopher Corso
Perhaps just as importantly, SVRAs that take full advantage of the TAP resources can quickly search their job-ready consumers and respond quickly to potential employers about whether they can refer any applicants with the appropriate skills and experience. By assisting qualified candidates to enroll in TAP, VR will support consumers to position themselves to meet the talent needs of business and satisfy dual the dual customers of the VR system.
Webinar View ExploreVR webinar, How Does the Dual-Customer Approach Support VR Employment Outcomes? to learn more about how the National Employment Team and Talent Acquisition Portal are building relationships with businesses that contribute to career planning and VR employment outcomes.
Agency Performance Measures
Certain measures of SVRA performance have a direct bearing on relationships with businesses. As the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) identifies allowable services to employers, SVRAs will begin to document such services and evaluate their effectiveness. Download the fact sheet, Effectiveness in Serving Employers: A Crosswalk for WIOA Title IV Employer Services [PDF].
BUSINESS ENGAGEMENT PERFORMANCE ACCOUNTABILITY
The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) identifies the importance of agencies serving job seekers while also meeting the needs of businesses. In other words, a main agency role is to provide skilled workers to a wide array of industry sectors, while building consistent service relationships. Here is an example of a business customer service satisfaction survey [DOC].
WIOA has established performance accountability indicators and reporting requirements to measure outcomes across the six core workforce partners serving job seekers, including state vocational rehabilitation agencies (SVRAs). This means that states will need to adopt specific measures to determine their effectiveness in working with the business community. Collectively, these efforts are known as “business engagement.”
The criteria to be used in measuring business engagement efforts are included in RSA-TAC-17-01, Performance Accountability Guidance for Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) Title I, Title II, Title III and Title IV Core Programs: https://rsa.ed.gov/display.cfm?pageid=420. This RSA Technical Assistance Circular (TAC) provides detailed guidance of the criteria to be used for measuring each state’s business engagement efforts.
States have some latitude in determining what aspects of their business engagement efforts they will track, but they must choose two of the following three criteria (pages 20–25 of the TAC):
- Retention (with the same employer): The percentage of participants who exit and are employed with the same employer in the second and fourth quarters after exit.
- Repeat business customers: The percentage of repeat employers using agency services within the previous three years.
- Employer penetration rate: The percentage of employers using agency services out of all employers in the state.
Each approach is calculated as follows (methodologies and data reporting elements are defined in the TAC):
- Retention (with the same employer): Percentage of participants with wage records who exit and were employed by the same employer in the second and fourth quarters after exit.
- Repeat business customers: Percentage of employers who have used WIOA core program services more than once during the last three reporting periods.
- Employer penetration rate: Percentage of employers using WIOA core program services out of all employers in the state.
In addition, governors have the discretion to choose a third, state-specific approach to measure their workforce system effectiveness in terms of business engagement. Please see Attachment 4, Table B of the TAC for more details. These three approaches are outlined in the WIOA joint reporting requirements found in RSA-TAC-17-01.
Since these metrics are new to WIOA core programs, the Department of Labor and the Department of Education have developed options by which states can pilot two of the above approaches to measure effectiveness in serving employers. States must select two of the approaches, and also may develop, at the governor’s discretion, an additional state-specific approach. States must implement their chosen approaches and develop an initial report to be included in the first WIOA annual report, due in October 2017. The departments understand that because there will be a lag in availabile data for the first and third approaches, complete data will not be expected for the October 2017 report.
The departments believe that these options give states flexibility in selecting the approaches that best suit their needs, while providing partner agencies the opportunity to evaluate states’ experiences in using these approaches during Program Year (PY) 2016 (7/1/16 – 6/30/17) and PY 2017 (7/1/17 – 6/30/18). This pilot program also allows the departments to obtain employer feedback regarding the extent to which these indicators measure effectiveness in serving employers.
For states that choose to develop an additional approach, the outcomes for that approach should be reported in the Statewide Performance Report Template for Effectiveness in Serving Employers Section C.4. A brief definition of the calculation should be included in Section D.1 of the same report template.
The departments will evaluate state experiences with the various approaches and plan to use the results of that evaluation to identify a standardized indicator for implementation no later than the beginning of PY 2019 (7/1/19).
The following websites contain information relevant to the Effectiveness in Serving Employers requirements within WIOA and the amendments to the Rehabilitation Act of 1973:
- RSA-TAC-17-01 Performance Accountability Guidance for Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) Title I, Title II, Title III and Title IV Core Programs December 19, 2016: https://www2.ed.gov/policy/speced/guid/rsa/subregulatory/tac-17-01.pdf
- Training and Employment Guidance Letter No. 10-16 Performance Accountability Guidance for Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) Title I, Title II, Title III and Title IV Core Programs December 19, 2016: https://wdr.doleta.gov/directives/attach/TEGL/TEGL_10-16.pdf
- Department Of Labor Employment and Training Administration; Performance and Results, Performance Reporting: https://doleta.gov/performance/reporting/eta_default.cfm
- WIOA Statewide And Local Performance Report Template; includes the WIOA: Effectiveness In Serving Employers Report Template, June 2016: https://www.doleta.gov/performance/pfdocs/ETA-9169-WIOA-State-and-Performance-Report-Template.pdf
- Attachment 4 – Table A Effectiveness in Serving Employers Data Elements and Specifications and Table B Effectiveness in Serving Employers Specifications; Employer Repeat Business Customers and Penetration Rate: https://wdr.doleta.gov/directives/attach/TEGL/TEGL_10-16_Attachment_4.pdf
23rd Institute on Rehabilitation Issues, Developing Effective Partnerships with Employers as a Service Delivery Mechanism, June 1997.