This lever is focused on how government agencies can ensure workers, partners and customers have avenues for voice, representation, and meaningful opportunities to influence how a workforce or economic development agency operates. This could be related to budget priorities, strategic planning, program design, implementation, policy development, and even certain aspects of agency operations.
Methods for validating empowerment should be fit-for-purpose -relevant and specific to content and target groups. Consider:
Existence of Choice - Is choice both available and accessible?
Use of Choice - It choice consistently and equitably used?
Achievement of Choice - Is the existence and use of choice accomplishing the desired result?
One of the primary ways government economic and workforce agencies can empower workers is to thoughtfully design policies and practices centered on local workers’ experiences and perspectives. A helpful starting point in user design is to develop personas who are fictitious yet realistic representations of target beneficiaries of your programs and policies. They are used to identify the individuals a) you seek to improve job quality with b) would like to hear input and perspectives from, and c) are the focus of policy and practice change efforts.
Human Centered Design: A problem-solving technique that puts real people at the center of the development process, enabling agencies and teams to create programs, services, and policies that resonate and are tailored to the needs of the intended beneficiary, or end-user.
It is important that the individuals developing personas have lived experience similar to those of the target beneficiaries. Agencies can work with individuals from the communities most impacted by low job quality to further develop and sharpen user personas on a regular basis.
After developing one or more personas, the next step is to map the journey of the user to strengthen your understanding of the key opportunities and challenges your target beneficiaries may face moving toward your intended outcome. Ask "How Might We...." questions to think expansively about how each step in the process meets the needs of those who will experience it. Explore whether choice exists and is being consistently and equitably used. This can include everything from who operates each aspect of the program to how success is defined, data is collected, and results are disaggregated.
Once the mapping is complete, make sure to allocate necessary funding to not only carry out the revised process but also build in routine monitoring and evaluation to ensure the changes are having the desired impact. Take time to assess whether the existence and use of choice that you built into the process is accomplishing the desired result.
Tips for Human Centered Design
- Consider who is at the table
- Take time to hear from users/participants directly
- Design personas who provide realistic representations of target beneficiaries of your programs and policies
- Strengthen your understanding of the key opportunities and challenges your target beneficiaries may face moving toward your intended outcome through journey maps