Originally posted: May 11, 2020
Last updated: September 22, 2023
The Job Quality Tools Library offers actionable tools, resources, and guidance for leaders to improve jobs in their communities. Below is a list of tools for economic development.
↓ Tools and Resources Below the Box ↓
- Job Quality Tools Library Homepage
- Index of Tools by Field
Tools for Economic Development (Alphabetical by Source)
What’s It For: This organizational self-assessment can be used to measure staff competencies and awareness of racial inequities in your organization. The assessment includes questions related to competencies as well as organizational operations. The resulting racial equity score corresponds to potential next steps and tools that can help support your organization wherever you may be on your racial equity journey.
What’s It For: To make the business case for improving retention, employers can use this simple calculator to get a ballpark estimate of hard costs of turnover. Partners can complete this exercise with businesses to show the value of their services or talent management practices that reduce turnover. Unlike many other turnover calculators, this tool includes both direct costs, such as the cost of hiring or orientation, and indirect costs, such as lower employee morale or poorer customer service.
What’s It For: This statement emerged from the collaborative work of the 2017-2018 Aspen Job Quality Fellows, innovators from diverse sectors who are working to expand quality jobs. It includes a list of key job quality attributes and a stated commitment to advance job quality. The statement offers a useful example for practitioners across fields seeking to define the elements of a quality job and publicly commit to job quality efforts.
What’s It For: This detailed assessment is a tool to help employers generate a report about their social and environment impact, including impact on workers, and to benchmark against peer companies. It includes measures of job quality, including compensation, benefits, safety, and worker ownership. Practitioners who work with businesses could direct them to this tool or even walk them through it.
What’s It For: This set of equity tools is designed to help organizations and individuals operationalize equity. Included is an equitable hiring tool, equitable workforce plans, and equity analysis tools. Tools focused on policy and budgeting provide a framework for users to consider whose voices are at the table when designing policies and regulations, who is likely to be impacted, and if the policy outcomes would lead to a more or less equitable environment. While designed for local government, these tools have broad relevance for a wide audience, including employers, policymakers, workforce development professionals, and others interested in centering equity in their policy and programmatic work.
What’s It For: This is a framework for helping business owners understand three main ways to transition a business to employee ownership: worker cooperatives, employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs), and management buy-outs. This tool may also be used by practitioners who work with businesses — especially small businesses — to increase awareness of employee ownership as a tool for transitioning businesses as owners retire. It can also help inform employees seeking to join or push for values-based workplaces.
What’s It For: This toolkit complements the Democracy at Work Institute’s “Becoming Employee-Owned” guide. It provides a basic overview of employee ownership and its benefits, including brief examples of businesses that operate under various forms of ownership. A checklist allows owners to self-assess their progress toward moving a business to employee ownership, from the exploration phase to the completion of the transition.
What’s It For: This is a high-level, generalist guide for starting a worker cooperative or transitioning an existing business. In addition to providing an overview of the principles and function of cooperative ownership, the guide provides an explainer on developing business ideas and decision-making processes. This guide is useful to workers, advocates, and those engaged in outreach to existing values-based employers.
What’s It For: If a business owner is retiring or leaving the organization, transitioning to employee ownership is one avenue to sustain the business and workers’ jobs while strengthening job quality. This highly technical guide provides information for owners interested in selling their business to employees through an ESOP or co-op. Included are details about conducting a landscape analysis, legal rights, tax policy, and valuation of your business.
What’s It For: This brief provides an overview of the role of impact investing for employee ownership, including the role of community development financial institutions (CDFIs). It shows how employee ownership transitions advance environmental, social, and governance (ESG) principles and should therefore be supported by impact investors. Case examples model the effectiveness of CDFIs in financing employee ownership.
What’s It For: This simple, user-friendly calculator serves as a tool to measure the income needed by a family to maintain an adequate standard of living in a specific community. It can calculate costs based on all counties and metro areas in the US and for 10 family types (one or two adults with zero to four children). Family budgets are calculated using seven components: housing, food, transportation, childcare, healthcare, taxes, and “other necessities.”
What’s It For: This assessment is a tool to help employers (primarily >150 employees) benchmark their talent management strategies against those other employers are undertaking and to determine where to focus practice change efforts. The topics covered in the survey include recruiting, hiring, retention, advancement, and more. A separate resource section also provides a variety of business-facing tools. Practitioners who work with businesses could direct them to this tool and even walk them through it.
What’s It For: The Good Jobs Institute created this scorecard to assess how well a business is delivering value to customers, employees, and investors. The employee scorecard measures performance across 9 “essential elements” of a quality job (see the framework included in Section 1). Employers and their partners can use this scorecard to build the case for practice change and set targets and track progress towards goals.
What’s It For: MIT’s Good Jobs Institute created this framework to help employers seeking to improve worker experience, retention, and productivity to assess their performance across nine “essential elements” of a quality job. These include meeting an employee’s basic needs, such as through fair wages and a flexible schedule, and meeting “higher needs” such as personal growth, belonging, and recognition. While designed for employers, the framework has relevance for all practitioners seeking to define and assess job quality in an organization.
What’s It For: Workers report that their managers are a key contributor to job quality. This toolbox includes resources to train and support managers, including a manager feedback survey, new manager training materials, and templates for meetings with employees. While this tool is designed for businesses, other practitioners could share it with their business partners to encourage more supportive supervisory practices.
What’s It For: HCAP Partners – a fund providing debt and equity growth capital to lower-middle market companies – has developed this operational impact approach to assess job quality standards and improvements in portfolio companies through a quantitative measurement system. HCAP has identified five key attributes of job quality that fall within the categories of economic opportunity and health and wellness. HCAP engages with businesses to collect data, develop a baseline assessment, and build a strategic roadmap to implement and improve workplace initiatives for creating and maintaining high quality jobs. While this bespoke measurement system is designed to meet HCAP’s needs, other investors, lenders, and practitioners who work with businesses to improve job quality may find HCAP’s job quality definition and measurement framework useful in developing their own tools.
What’s It For: The Innovative Finance Playbook provides an overview of the financial fundamentals of an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP) conversion. Users can access case studies of capital funders and companies that underwent transition. The playbook also lays out what criteria a company should meet to be viable for employee ownership.
What’s It For: This employer toolkit is designed to engage employers in building pathways and opportunities to support career progression for workers, including by creating a supportive work environment through job redesign and supportive management. The toolkit includes information that can help employers make a business case, as well as embedded tools and case studies highlighting employer efforts. This toolkit is well suited for businesses, in particular HR professionals or other stakeholders involved in building internal career ladders. It also has applications for practitioners supporting employer practice change.
What’s It For: The Management Center created this library of tools related to equity and inclusion aimed at addressing internal practices and management approaches of organizations. Included are worksheets, resources, and case studies that are have application for organizations seeking to further equitable opportunities and outcomes.
What’s It For: This calculator is a tool for estimating the living wage by U.S. metro area, county, state, region, or at the national level. The living wage is defined as the wage needed to cover basic family expenses including housing, food, childcare, transportation, health, and other necessities, plus relevant taxes. The calculator estimates the living wage needed to support families of 12 different compositions (one to two adults with up to three children). Practitioners across fields can use this tool to benchmark compensation in local communities or firms against a wage rate that allows residents to meet minimum standards of living. Because the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is a nonpartisan research institution, practitioners report that this tool has credibility with a range of audiences including businesses.
What’s It For: This toolkit is designed to equip organizations and businesses with strategies to support employee mental health during the coronavirus pandemic. The guide can be used as an informational document or as a presentation to leaders and managers, including human resources teams and organizational leaders. Included are recommendations to build a culture of empathy and support, links to external resources, and examples of company practices. Individuals supporting businesses or workers may also find the toolkit useful to share with employers to encourage practices that support employee mental health.
What’s It For: This interactive guide helps business owners understand the role an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP) could play at their company. It provides a general overview of the structure of ESOPs, links to external resources, and describes the nuances of ESOPs in different corporate structures (C-Corp, B-Corp, or other form). Users of the tool are able to customize the path through the guide in accordance with the type of corporation they want to transition to employee ownership.
What’s It For: This resource includes research summaries related to potential effects of employee ownership on firms and workers. Research includes studies conducted by NCEO as well as academic research from a variety of sources. Areas explored include firm performance, employment stability and survival, and employee financial well-being. This resource may be particularly useful for employers exploring employee ownership business models as well as advocates and employee support organizations working with either business owners or workers interested in employee ownership.
What’s It For: A directory of key organizations and working on employee ownership. It includes governmental and nongovernmental organizations, including at the state, national, and international level.
What’s It For: This six-step guide can help employers assess their employees’ financial stability and make an actionable plan to strengthen financial wellness. The foundational step includes assessing employee wages and benefits to ensure workers are earning a livable wage. The following steps guide employers through various financial wellness solutions, including how to implement and evaluate strategies and solicit feedback. This guide is written for employers, it but could also be used by workforce development professionals or worker advocates who work closely with employers.
What’s It For: This framework can help employers and their partners define job quality and design high-quality job opportunities in collaboration with workers, based on a menu of components of a quality job. The tool is built around three pillars that can help to attract and retain talent: foundational elements of a quality job such as wages and benefits, support elements such as training, and opportunity elements such as recognition.
What’s It For: This tool is designed to guide workforce practitioners through the development and growth of industry partnerships that bring together employers, service providers, and workers. While industry partnerships may form to address talent needs, as the National Fund notes, these partnerships can become an important avenue for addressing job quality and workplace inequities over time. The toolkit includes an assessment to help strengthen partnerships as well as guidance and resources related to five areas: employer and industry engagement; stakeholder engagement; data-informed strategy and continuous learning; operational capacity; and racial equity and inclusion. Workforce and economic development may find the toolkit useful to embed job quality in industry partnership approaches.
What’s It For: This chapter in Good Jobs, Good Business – a toolkit for small business owners seeking to improve job quality – promotes strategies to strengthen employee engagement and create a strong workplace culture. Tactics include creating a culture of respect and trust, emphasizing company values, and allowing employees to participate in decision-making. This resource is designed for small business owners but can also been used by partners (including lenders and workforce development organizations) to coach businesses on job quality improvements with potential business benefits.
What’s It For: This chapter in Good Jobs, Good Business – a toolkit for small business owners seeking to improve job quality – includes an overview of the legal requirements of health benefits, the business case for providing them, and options for structuring these benefits. Designed for small business owners, this resource has also been used by partners (including lenders and workforce development organizations) to coach businesses on job quality improvements. It has applications for a range of organizations interested in adding or expanding health benefits, including nonprofits.
What’s It For: This discussion paper is designed to help Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) define and measure job quality. It defines a quality job as one that contains most (if not all) of five elements: a living wage, basic benefits, career-building opportunities, wealth-building opportunities, and a fair and engaging workplace. The paper offers impact measurement practices to assess and report on job quality to help CDFIs encourage and support their business borrowers to enhance the quality of jobs they offer. While this resource is written for lenders, it has applications for all practitioners seeking to define and measure job quality within a firm.
What’s It For: This chapter in Good Jobs, Good Business – a toolkit for small business owners seeking to improve job quality – provides guidance on supporting employees to save for retirement. It makes the case that having an employer-sponsored retirement plan can increase employee job satisfaction and retention and provide tax benefits for the business and its employees. This resource is designed for small business owners but has also been used by partners (including lenders and workforce development organizations) to coach businesses on job quality improvements with potential business benefits.
What’s It For: This chapter in Good Jobs, Good Business – a toolkit for small business owners seeking to improve job quality – focuses on the importance of stable and flexible scheduling in retaining a high quality workforce. It makes the business case for stable scheduling and provides practical instructions on crafting and implementing a scheduling policy. This resource is designed for small business owners but has also been used by partners (including lenders and workforce development organizations) to coach businesses on job quality improvements with potential business benefits.
What’s It For: This framework is a guide to creating an agreement between community organizations and real estate developers to help meet local needs and hold developers accountable over time. Community Benefits Agreements can include job quality specifications, such as stipulated wages and expectations of hiring community residents. These agreements can also include job quality benchmarks in the selection of tenants for a new development. As legally binding commitments, CBAs can be a useful tool in setting and enforcing long-term expectations for job quality.
What’s It For: This issue brief by PHI analyzes the impacts of recent policy changes in New York state impacting home care aides and defines what a quality job looks like for a caregiver. The elements of a quality job in this occupation are organized in three categories: compensation, opportunity, and supports. While designed for care workers, the framework has relevance across industries and application for all practitioners seeking to define and assess job quality in an organization.
What’s It For: This toolkit includes a primer to workplace financial wellness services, questions to consider when exploring these services, and employer experiences with provision of these services. These supports can contribute to job quality when paired with adequate compensation by helping employees manage finances and build assets. This resource includes descriptions of common services, such as financial counseling and coaching, debt management, savings products, and online financial management tools. This tool is most useful for businesses interested in adding or expanding financial wellness benefits. Partners could also share this tool with businesses or could use it to strengthen their own organizations’ financial wellness supports.
What’s It For: This tool provides step-by-step guidance for economic and workforce development agencies to think through implementing an employee ownership strategy. It details the different forms of employee ownership, linking out to resources that allow readers to deepen their understanding. It also contains a repository of resources and case studies for interventions to support employee ownership that economic and workforce development agencies are uniquely positioned to make.
What’s It For: This toolkit provides leaders in the restaurant industry with practical resources for assessing, planning, and implementing steps to embed racial equity in workplace practices. Through partnerships with two restaurants, the toolkit highlights skills and tools critical to supporting restaurants on their racial equity journey and provides tangible examples to support implementation. This toolkit can help employers and their partners identify where racial bias may be operating in a restaurant’s policies and practices and implement solutions.
What’s It For: The Racial Equity Toolkit provides a process and set of questions designed to analyze how policies, initiatives, programs, and budget issues benefit or burden communities of color. The toolkit can be used to guide the development, implementation, and evaluation of strategies and solicit input from community members and staff. Although the toolkit includes some information specific to the City of Seattle, it can be adapted by a range of stakeholders within and beyond local governments interested in centering racial equity in job quality strategies.
What’s It For: The Employee Ownership Toolkit is a step-by-step guide for transitioning a company to cooperative ownership. The experience of Smith Mountain Company is described in detail, helping bridge the gap between theory and practice. Definitions of certain technical terms, particularly concerning finance, are also provided.
What’s It For: This white paper provides a primer on open-book management, an approach to sharing financial information with workers to strengthen decision-making. Topics covered include the basics of open-book management, benefits and challenges associated with this strategy, and actionable steps that companies can take to apply open-book management in their business. This resource may be particularly helpful for employers and business support organizations interested in strengthening employee engagement and involving workers in a broader range of decisions.
What’s It For: This step-by-step guide by Upskill America, an initiative of the Economic Opportunities Program, and the Institute for Corporate Productivity details the steps to change an organization’s tuition assistance program to a tuition disbursement program, providing financial support for education up-front rather than offering reimbursement after a worker has completed a program. This simple change to the structure of a tuition assistance program has important job quality and equity implications; it can make education and upskilling accessible to workers who are eager to learn but lack access to resources to pay for school. This tool is useful for employers and all practitioners who work with them to strengthen job quality.
What’s It For: This calculator can help a provider or individual assess how a family’s change in income could affect public benefits from safety net programs (also known as the “benefits cliff”). This tool allows users to test scenarios at different earning levels and show results for all U.S. states. Businesses and their partners might use this tool as they consider the appropriate wage and benefits mix to enhance job quality and ensure economic stability for all workers.
What’s It For: This tool is designed to help policymakers and practitioners understand the extent of the pandemic’s effects on communities and inform race-conscious policies for an equitable recovery. The tracker uses the federal Household Pulse Survey to connect policymakers and practitioners to various data (e.g., on employment income loss, food insufficiency, mental health) that can be disaggregated by geography and race/ethnicity. Policymakers as well as practitioners in economic development, workforce development, and worker advocacy may find this tool useful to design strategies for an equitable recovery.
What’s It For: This toolkit by the Department of Labor provides steps and resources to start and register an apprenticeship program. When delivered appropriately and connected to advancement opportunities, apprenticeships can strengthen job quality by increasing worker stability and mobility. This toolkit could be particularly useful for a business or labor organization, a workforce intermediary, a community-based organization, or an education institution developing an apprenticeship program.
What It’s For: This self-paced, mobile-friendly online training module is designed to provide frontline managers with guidance to develop, support, and retain young adult workers remotely. The module includes a remote work checklist to assess employees’ work-from-home needs. While this training is designed specifically for business managers of frontline talent, workforce and economic development organizations may find it useful to share with employers they work with to encourage more supportive and equitable supervisory practices. To download the module, you will need to complete the sign-up form.