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Learning from Each Other: Xerox Corporation and Re-entry to Work

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Organization: Xerox Corporation and Their Supportive Services Partner Organizations

Challenge

One of the central challenges of the WtW Voucher program is to help participants obtain or retain employment and make the transition from welfare to work. Part of this challenge is in identifying employers that are willing to work with individuals making the transition from welfare to work. Employers that are willing to offer participants jobs and advancement opportunities provide housing authorities and their partners a potential solution. Xerox Corporation is one such company.

Solution: the Xerox Re-entry to Work Program

Xerox works in partnership with several organizations to hire welfare recipients. Partners include community-based organizations such as Women in Community Service (WICS), So Others May Eat (SOME), and government entities including housing authorities and Department of Labor Welfare to Work grantees. These partners are responsible for providing Xerox with work-ready employees who then interview with Xerox Staffing and Development Managers for open positions. After an individual is hired, the partner is responsible for providing a minimum of 12 months supportive services for the employee. Services vary by partner, but typically include transportation and child care as appropriate.

For its part, Xerox hires individuals as temporary employees, provides them with an hourly wage of $8 to $10 an hour, and 10 percent of regular employee benefits for the first 90 days of employment. After the initial 90 days, employees whose placements are working out are hired full time and receive full benefits and appropriate wage increases.

Xerox also has created two programs to assist Welfare to Work employees:

  • Friends at Work provides the employee with a "leader," a fellow employee who volunteers to acquaint the new employee with the workplace and serves as a mentor for him/her. Xerox matches "leaders" with the new employees ("learners") based on several factors, including interest surveys completed by both parties. This program curriculum is available through the Welfare to Work Partnership or by calling 1-888-USA-JOB1.

  • Xerox' Genesis program also provides these new employees with a credit card and a line of credit through the Xerox Federal Credit Union. This program provides financial training to these new employees as well as a toll-free number for them to call for answers to their financial questions.

Implementation

Xerox initiated the program in response to the 1996 welfare reform legislation. It began as a pilot in 1997 and went national in 1998. Xerox representatives designed the program and approached potential partners with their ideas. The company worked with Grant Associates to seek out and develop partnership opportunities and with WICS to design its Friends at Work program.

The Re-Entry to Work program (formerly known as the Welfare to Work program) was designed as a self-sustaining business model. As such, partner organizations refer work-ready (not trained, but work-ready) welfare recipients for interviews at Xerox. Xerox interviews several TANF recipients and hires the most impressive.

Results

In 1999, Xerox hired approximately 180 TANF recipients (6 percent of all new hires). The company's retention rate for welfare to work employees is 65 percent within the first two years. Xerox is committed to expanding the program and its percentage of WtW hires through additional partnership opportunities. Xerox estimates that the program costs the company approximately $20,000 per employee, including wages. These costs are comparable to those for any new Xerox employee. Costs for partners vary depending on the level of supportive services and job readiness training they provide.

Art Corrales, Xerox' Manager, Community Outreach and Business Alliances, attributes the program's success to the following factors:

  • Strong support from company leadership - Xerox' CEO is a friend of former President Clinton and is committed to supporting welfare to work efforts

  • Good community building organizations - partners who are able to provide quality job candidates without significant demands on company staff or time

  • Good mentoring, both through Xerox' "leaders" and through supporting partner organizations.

Sample Tools

Xerox offers two assessment forms that can help PHAs and their partners evaluate participants and other employment organizations.

  • The Performance Assessment Form is a short form used to evaluate Welfare to Work employees each week.
  • The Assessment Model Welfare to Work Self-Evaluation Form identifies organizations that have the capacity to meet Xerox success criteria for preparing and supporting job candidates for welfare to work.

The Memorandum of Cooperation between the District of Columbia Housing Authority and Xerox Corporation describes the nature of their partnership and can be used as a template for other PHAs and partners.

For more information, contact Art Corrales at (703) 287-2635. Mr. Corrales will then set up a meeting between him, your PHA, and local Xerox representatives.

 
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