The following is written by Darlene Shopher of Mexico, Missouri.

The Mexico Area Chamber of Commerce’s Workforce Resource Assistance Program (WRAP) is in its second year of providing services to employees at four industries in Mexico, Missouri. The WRAP program is designed to help employees find resources to help with day-to-day struggles. The program includes a workforce specialist being on-site at each of the industries every week, seeing employees who might need to be connected to assistance that is offered by the community, and in some cases, helping them secure an emergency small dollar loan if needed, regardless of their credit score.

The program started with representative of industries that had an interest in having access to the WRAP program being required to attend a workshop on Workplace Stability, given by the author of the book with the same name, Ruth Weirich. The workshop covered the cost of hiring new employees, characteristics of entry-level employees, and how managers can help improve the retention of their employees.

Once the industries signed on to have the WRAP program, management teams were encouraged to hold shorter training courses to cover similar material for all building leaders. In August 2021, two of the four industries had 100% of their management team trained, and two others held smaller versions of the training.

  • During the past year, Mexico has had a lot of success with the WRAP program. While having a resource person in the business is meeting individuals’ needs, a greater impact is made when industries change practices to support all employees.
  • For example, one started providing breakfast food free of charge to their employees as data grew regarding the number of employees who were seen regarding food insecurity.
  • Another changed their orientation from two days at the headquarters to having the second day be at the plant they were assigned to. This saved travel time and inconvenience for employees, as well as giving them more contact with their own plant managers.
  • Two of the four industries have offered financial education classes during the workday to address issues such as debt management, saving, and how to improve credit scores. One of these businesses found the sessions so valuable that they are now offering emotional wellness classes to help employees increase their knowledge about stress and health as well as healthy relationships, anxiety, depression, and substance abuse.
  • The success in one of the Mexico’s plants has encouraged the company to expand these resources to all their plants. They proactively repeated the Workplace Stability workshop for all Mexico leaders to stay focused on its goals, and they sent plant managers from four other sites to hear about ways to improve employee stability. They are also sending their own Mexico, Missouri, plant employee to the aha! Process training so he can provide this training companywide in the future.

During a time when jobs are plenty and workers are hard to find or shift from place to place, this program model holds promise to engage and stabilize employees and their families. Mexico is excited to be on the cutting edge of this approach to employee benefits.