MANSFIELD — Asking an employee to “leave their problems at the door” just isn’t feasible in Steve Cummins’ eyes.
“You can’t expect people to leave their troubles at the door,” the vice president of Mansfield Engineered Components said. “Everybody eventually faces some challenge that they need help with.”
Thanks to Catholic Charities’ 3E Project, employees at Mansfield Engineered Components and other Richland County businesses have found support and assistance that’s helped them through challenging times.
“Through this 3E program they’ve been there for quite a number of our employees,” Cummins said.
That includes assembly assistant Stacy Price.
“I was having some financial difficulties — I got a little behind in my rent and they were able to help me get my rent caught up,” she said. “They also have classes for budgeting and I went to several of them.
“I think it’s a really good program, and it really did help me out.”
Launched in 2016, the 3E Project provides information and referral services to employees about community resources to help overcome barriers and achieve workforce stability. The objective is to encourage, empower and engage individuals to become self-sufficient, and provide services at the worksite.
A 3E Project case manager visits participating employers weekly to meet with employees.
One of Famico Williams’ goals since taking over the program six months ago has been to expand its reach and increase its presence at local worksites.
“We’re trying to combat turnover by being onsite and providing resources through 3E to employees,” said Williams, community engagement coordinator at Catholic Charities. “We want to get them the information they need so they can make informed decision and be empowered.”
Another goal is to help employers understand that their employees may be faced with difficulties that could impact their work performance.
“We’re not trying to come up with excuses, but help them realize (their employees) are dealing with different things,” Williams said.
Individuals are enrolled primarily via referrals, whether by employers or social service agencies. Participants meet one-on-one with a case manager to discuss what obstacles they may be facing.
These obstacles could stem from what are known as “Adverse Childhood Experiences.” Williams and other staff at Catholic Charities sat in on a workshop on ACE prevalence and risk outcomes, which can include missed work, depression, drug use and alcoholism.
“We want to try to get to the core of the issue, so if they’re having trouble paying rent, maybe they need help budgeting,” Williams said.
The case manager makes referrals based on the participant’s needs for services. Some needs may be met through Catholic Charities which offers several services, such as financial education, crisis navigation and the HOPE Food Pantry, while other needs may be met with the help of agencies like Richland County Job & Family Services.
“It becomes like a one stop shop, if you will, because we want to be able to meet individuals’ needs holistically,” Williams said.
Participants’ involvement in the program is ongoing, though more intensive the first three months.
“Once they’ve enrolled we don’t ever turn our backs to them,” Williams said.
There are currently over 60 people enrolled in the program who hold jobs at manufacturing, healthcare, hospitality and services industries throughout Richland County, according to Williams.
“Right now have a pretty broad clientele base,” Williams said. “We’ve focused on manufacturing, hospitality and healthcare because those areas tend see a greater turnover.”
From a business perspective, reducing absenteeism and turnover has been one of the program benefits, Cummins said.
“Is turnover still a struggle for us? Yeah, it can be, but these efforts have helped to reduce that,” he said.
“But I think equally important, we’re a family business and we try to maintain a family atmosphere, so (3E) is another way that hopefully our employees understand that we care about them, that they’re important to us.”
Case matters are confidential.
“We’re not trying to meddle in our employees’ lives but provide an opportunity onsite without people having to leave work to be in touch with one of the case managers,” Cummins said.
One employee openly shared about her experience in the program with Cummins.
“She shared with me that her monthly medical bills just on pharmacy needs alone were pretty significant, and she was able to meet with a caseworker,” he said. “Just by coincidence I was in the hall when she came out and she was in tears. I’m a natural worrier, so I said, ‘What’s wrong?’ and she said she went in to meet with them expecting to give her some advice and what they did was help her for a short period of time to cover some of the costs of her medications.”
Williams, a Mansfield native with a long work history in workforce development, is excited to see individuals get the help they need and looks forward to continued progress with the 3E Project.
“We want to just be able to, you know, be that conduit if you will, and connect people with the resources they need,” he said.