Originally posted: May 11, 2020
Last updated: May 11, 2020
Improving the quality of jobs should be an important goal for anyone trying to connect people to opportunity and strengthen regional economies. Wage and salary income allows American households to pay the bills every month and powers the consumer demand that in turn drives American business. But today, too many working people have earnings insufficient to pay basic monthly bills, leaving too many working families struggling for economic stability and too many regional economies experiencing stagnation.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, roughly a quarter of working adults were paid wages too low to lift a small family above the poverty line. Decades of eroding benefits, declining employment security, increasingly unstable scheduling practices, and limited advancement opportunities have left millions of Americans in unstable jobs. Structural inequality has placed a disproportionate burden on workers of color and women, which the current health and economic crisis is exacerbating.
Americans believe that hard work should be a path to economic opportunity. But to make that belief a reality, hard work is insufficient. We also need quality jobs.
The Economic Opportunities Program developed this Job Quality Tools Library to provide actionable tools – including checklists, instructions, and guidelines – to help leaders adopt practices to strengthen job quality in their own organizations, in the businesses they work with, and across labor markets. The library also includes supplemental resources that provide additional information related to many of the tools.
While some organizations have long focused on improving the quality of jobs, others are just beginning to attend to job quality in their work. This library is designed to support practitioners with varying degrees of experience. It is organized in five sections:
- tools to understand and define job quality
- tools to assess job quality in an organization
- tools to build capacity to engage businesses in conversations about job quality
- tools focused on addressing specific job quality attributes: wages, benefits, scheduling, working conditions, opportunity to build skills and advance, supportive work environment, worker voice, and equity and inclusion
- tools to help institutionalize job quality practices over time
You can approach the library in different ways. You can move through content sequentially. You can start with the section that’s most relevant to your current question or context. And you can sort tools by field or by job quality practice.
A Note About Equity and Job Quality
Equity-focused resources are included throughout the library, reflecting EOP’s belief in the importance of centering equity in all efforts to improve job quality – as well as our conviction that job quality and equity are mutually reinforcing. For example, increasing wages for all front-line service sector workers – who are disproportionately women of color – can help close economic gaps across race and gender. And focused strategies to foster more equitable, inclusive workplaces can strengthen job quality. The library includes resources to help practitioners advance equity across race, gender and gender identity, ability, and other dimensions of identity. In Section 4, you will find a sub-section dedicated to equity and inclusion tools that can be applied to a range of different employment practices and policies.
We look forward to continuing to add tools to the library as the national conversation about equity and job quality – and their interconnectedness – continues to evolve.
Thanks and Opportunities for Ongoing Collaboration
This library would not have been possible without the generous support of Prudential Financial, and without the time and input we received from leaders of a wide variety of organizations—from community-based nonprofits to business to public agencies. The idea for the library was first conceived through conversations with our Job Quality Fellows, 33 leaders from a variety of fields engaged in practical work to advance job quality. Fellows expressed the need for a curated resource hub with tools to help practitioners operationalize job quality work. Fellows told us about the tools they currently use, tools they need, and where they go to find tools.
The enthusiastic response to our Job Quality Field Survey also informed the content of this library. Hundreds of respondents indicated strong interest in doing job quality work – and many shared that they are already taking steps to improve jobs in their own organizations or in the businesses they work with. Survey respondents shared tools they use in their work and many are featured here. But they also expressed a need for more and better data, capacity-building supports, and additional tools.
This Job Quality Tools Library is a living resource! We hope you will continue to engage by contacting us or using the comment box on each page to tell us how you’re using these tools in your work and what you’re learning. In addition, you’ll notice sections of the library that have only a few tools. We hope you will reach out to share additional tools to strengthen the library.
To learn more about EOP’s other recent job quality work, please visit our Job Quality in Practice page (coming soon). Here, you’ll find our Job Quality in Practice webinar series, which shares how leading organizations are using some of the tools in this library, information about our Job Quality in Practice survey, and a link to a special section of the library with tools and resources related to promoting job quality during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Job Quality Tools Library Homepage
- About This Library (you are here)
- Special: COVID-19 Response Tools and Resources
- Index of Tools by Field