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The Importance of Communication in Employability Projects

 

Every employability project involves various partners. They help to surround the person with all the tools necessary for a successful job integration and retention. However, each partner possesses different expertise and has a different relationship with the job seeker. In a context where a thorough knowledge of the individual, the needs of the employer and the tools available is crucial, how can we encourage communication between all the stakeholders? How can we achieve it in a way that each person benefits optimally from the expertise of everyone, and more importantly, according to the most accurate needs assessment, at every stage of the journey? Here are some possible ideas…

Communication with the Job Seeker

Some partners are very close to the person, beginning with the employment counsellor or support worker. Let’s call them field partners. Field partners are in the privileged position to assess the employability needs of the job seeker through direct contact. At this stage, and before anything else, it is important that the communication between the individual and their counsellor or support worker builds trust. By removing filters, trust will be how we get as complete a picture as possible of the obstacles that may arise on the person’s path toward employment. Everything should be spelled out, even the most sensitive things (e.g., eating disorders or mental health problems). The person must be confident enough to feel everything can be said: the more you know, the more you can help.

Communication with Peripheral Partners

Other partners have joined the employment projects. They are called the peripheral partners: personal services, adaptation, health, training, as well as support organizations (e.g., SPHERE). To provide the best possible services or support, the peripheral partner must be able to fully understand the individual’s needs. Extensive dialogue between partners in the field and peripheral partners is necessary, because it is crucial to finding the best solutions.

It is also essential to keep in mind that each partner is in the best place due to their expertise to develop an offer of service or support adapted to the individual. Thus, it is important in communication between partners to develop every time the reflex to question, explain needs and be aware of the human tendency to fall into certain automatic responses. Approaching such issues with great openness and curiosity will often make it possible to dispense with commonly used support tools in exchange for more innovative strategies, adapted to the individual.

Communication with the Employer

We must not forget the employer is also an important partner in the person’s employment project. Because of their daily contact with the employee, they are one of the best stakeholders to note any needs requiring attention for a successful hire. Encouraging communication with the employer is above all reassuring: the employer does not know the challenges ahead, may have difficulty assessing needs, and may experience stress over their willingness to help the employee. Good communication should ensure that the employer feels supported and that solutions are readily available; that they can usually adjust and adapt, as well as observe the employee in action to identify new needs. Flexibility will ease the stress of thinking that everything needs to be in place from the start, reduce anxiety and lead to a healthy relationship with the new employee.

Taking the Time to Communicate

During the entire employability project, a central factor must also be considered: meeting moments, dialogues and discussions. Each project is different, thus, it is important to be vigilant in recognizing key moments. Some projects will require meetings or dialogues at the beginning of a project, the mid-point and project end. Some will require weekly meetings. Notes should be taken to maximize the knowledge acquired. Meetings, dialogue or contact should not be seen as a burden, but part of the tools to be put in place to promote successful employment integration.

Communication within an employability project also means taking the time to address challenges, identifying roles for more collaborative work (avoiding “silo work”) and determining above all, the key steps to good communication within each project. Similarly, it is possible that dialogue may need to be refocused on the project’s main objective, namely, employment. Each partner, through the support offered, also has their own objectives to achieve their mission.

Communication Summary

In the end, communication in employability projects can be summed up by a few essentials, as follows:

  • Building trust with the job seeker
  • Including the employer and showing support
  • Sharing complete information to maximize the use of expertise
  • Avoiding pitfalls such as automatic tendencies and loss of focus
  • Organizing communication and determining its importance.

However, these essentials will not be enough to make a project successful. First and foremost, partners must be flexible and adaptable with their communication. Each person is unique and so is each project. Making room for personal adjustments as a project progresses is most of all, regardless of the outcome of the project, a guarantee of human success for any employment integration project.

A post from Caroline Pouliot, Communications Coordinator, SPHERE, in collaboration with Marie-Lou Gallichan, Project Officer, SPHERE.

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(crédit photo : Tim Marshall – Unsplah)