Employment and Jobs

Reimagining Employer Engagement Toolkit

August 8, 2019  • Amy Blair & Jenny Weissbourd

On behalf of our partners in Chicago, we’re pleased to share the new Reimagining Employer Engagement toolkit, which provides workforce professionals with information and tools to expand their work and demonstrate the value their services bring to employers. Resources in the toolkit can help workforce service providers build their capacity to work more collaboratively with employers toward jobs that attract and retain talent, increase employee motivation and productivity, and enhance the quality of work life for frontline workers and their managers.

About the Toolkit

The Reimagining Employer Engagement toolkit is structured to mirror the progression of engagement between an employer and a workforce organization—from recruitment, to first contact, to deepening the relationship. It covers three primary areas:

  1. Research and planning to develop a robust network of employer contacts;
  2. Contacting employers and pitching your services; and
  3. Deepening employer relationships.

Download the Toolkit

This toolkit draws on three years of partnered work in Chicago, where 12 workforce organizations have embraced a shared strategy to improve retention and advancement for workers in retail and related sectors. Reimagine Retail Chicagoland is part of the Economic Opportunities Program’s national Reimagine Retail initiative, supported by the Walmart Foundation. We’ve worked closely with our Chicago partners as they’ve deepened employer relationships and built a practice of coaching businesses on strategies to improve worker stability and mobility. This toolkit documents their learning through practical guidance that workforce professionals in Chicago and across the country can apply in their work.

Launching the Toolkit

In late July, the Economic Opportunities Program joined Reimagine Retail Chicagoland, Chicago Jobs Council, and a packed room of more than 70 workforce professionals to launch Reimagining Employer Engagement: A Toolkit for Providers.

“Over the past couple of years, we realized that in order to create systemic change around job retention, we need stronger engagement between workforce development practitioners and employers,” Cyndi Solitro, Director of Reimagine Retail Chicagoland, explained at the launch event. “Conversations with employers need to go beyond the basic question of ‘How can we help you fill your jobs?’”

During the launch event, attendees shared that in today’s tight labor market they see an opportunity to “be bold and be brave” in their employer engagement. Workforce professionals talked about going beyond transactional relationships with employers to develop more reciprocal relationships that respond to the needs of business and workers.

After having the opportunity to walk through the toolkit and to apply materials in the toolkit to their own work, attendees noted a number of ways they would use this new resource. Several talked about using it for onboarding new job developers and job coaches. Others spoke about its usefulness as a reference because it contains information on topics ranging from labor market research to developing new employer contacts to messaging about and marketing program services (and more!).

We hope you will find this toolkit helpful in your work. Please reach out to us to share your experiences and feedback!



Developing a strong and stable frontline workforce offers a competitive advantage for retail employers. The #ReimagineRetail toolkit provides practical insights to advance this goal. @ReRetailChicago

To create systemic change around job retention, we need stronger engagement between workforce development practitioners and employers. The #ReimagineRetail toolkit offers a step in that direction. @ReRetailChicago

The #ReimagineRetail Toolkit provides practical information and tools to help your employer partners recruit and retain a high-quality workforce. @ReRetailChicago

Working collaboratively with employers can help them create better jobs, increase employee motivation and productivity, and enhance the quality of work life for employees. #ReimagineRetail @ReRetailChicago


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Reimagine Retail is a project of the Aspen Institute Economic Opportunities Program. Learn how EOP is helping low- and moderate-income Americans connect to and thrive in a changing economy. Follow us on social media and join our mailing list to stay up-to-date on publications, blog posts, and other announcements.

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