Employment and Jobs

Job Quality Narrative Research- Community Engagement Memo

October 17, 2023  • A - B Partners & Economic Opportunities Program

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The COVID-19 pandemic marked an inflection point in the way we relate to work. Americans’ collective reassessment on the purpose of work — and the role it should play in life — inspired record numbers of people to change jobs, start new businesses, and organize within a resurgent labor movement, and it left business leaders and commentators struggling to understand these changing workforce and cultural dynamics. Workers and customers alike are gravitating toward businesses that prioritize job quality and afford employees stability, mobility, and respect.

Against this backdrop, growing numbers of business leaders — especially those in small- and medium-sized businesses, who employ about half the US workforce — increasingly recognize that improving job quality is critical both to building a more equitable economy and to bolstering their own success. To that end, the Economic Opportunities Program collaborated with A—B Partners to understand business perceptions of job quality, identify strategies to encourage adoption of job quality elements, and define recommendations to involve financial intermediaries in this process. This memo, generated as part of EOP’s Shared Success project, lays out the contours of this research, including context, opportunity, approach, findings, and recommendations.

Here is the Shared Success – Job Quality Narrative Playbook.

About Shared Success

From stagnant wages to low access to benefits, poor job quality affects millions of workers in the US and disproportionately impacts BIPOC workers — millions of whom are employed at small- and medium-sized businesses. To improve job quality for these workers, while simultaneously helping owners strengthen their businesses, the Aspen Institute Economic Opportunities Program launched the Shared Success project. With major support form the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, this initiative will foster new norms and narratives among small businesses, financial intermediaries that support them, and institutions positioned to drive structural changes for a more just and equitable economy. The ten community development financial institutions selected for this project will offer advisory services to improve dimensions of job quality for small business clients. Learn more.

About EOP

The Economic Opportunities Program advances strategies, policies, and ideas to help low- and moderate-income people thrive in a changing economy. Follow us on social media and join our mailing list to stay up-to-date on publications, blog posts, events, and other announcements.