Collaboration, job retention goals of Workforce Development Center

Effective, efficient and productive.

Miami Valley business leaders hope their operations can be described in these terms. If they can’t, leaders from the Center for Workforce Development at Wright State University may get a call.

“What we do is work with organizations to grow them from the inside out,” said Sandra Kennedy, director of the Center for Workforce Development.

The center just received another $90,000 from the Ohio Department of Development for a continuing grant. It’s money that’s been put to work locally for the last two decades, touching over 550 organizations.

Kennedy says the grant is worth more now than ever.

“We strive to help avoid layoffs. It’s job retention. It’s all of the things that we are looking to try to do to regain our economic footing,” said Kennedy.

Kennedy says through the years the center has worked with big corporations like Delphi and the GM truck and bus plant in Moraine, but also many small businesses, like the tool and die shop she began working with two months ago that employs just five people.

Whether five or 5,000, Kennedy says collaboration is the key to success.

“Once you begin to collaborate in an honest way, then you have more of a joint commitment. And that means more people are coming into work trying to solve problems instead of giving each other headaches,” said Kennedy.

Kennedy says recent success includes working with the Dayton VA hospital and the City of Dayton finance department.

Kennedy’s group has been working with the VA since 2005 to get management and the union to work together.

At the City of Dayton finance department, it was all about customer service and call wait times.

When the project started in 2002, Kennedy says the finance department wasn’t the best with customer service. “One person said they called and waited 20 minutes. The longest wait-time now is a minute and a half, “said Kennedy.

Though it may be hard to measure, Kennedy says improving work relationships and customer service in these examples and others helps protect jobs and attract them in the future.

“It’s important that the City of Dayton grow. The customer satisfaction, the reputation, can play a role in whether or not people choose to move here and feed the tax base, or for companies to move here,” said Kennedy.

With the help of the Center for Urban and Public Affairs (CUPA) at Wright State, tracking is being done on who is leaving the Miami Valley, who’s coming back and why.

“And that’s where CUPA comes in, because they keep records on all of that, the surrounding communities and the entire state,” said Kennedy.

Local organizations often learn about the resources at the center through Kennedy’s presentations to small business associations and entrepreneurial groups.

One of the presentation topics that’s getting the most attention is about communicating and motivating different generations of employees in the work place.

“You don’t motivate a boomer in the same way, with the same language as you would a GenX,” said Kennedy.

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