Hendra, R., Dillman, K.-N., Hamilton, G., Lundquist, E., Martinson, K., Wavelet, M., Hill, A., & Williams, S. (2010). The Employment Retention and Advancement project: How effective are different approaches aiming to increase employment retention and advancement? Final impacts for twelve models. Washington, DC: Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families. [Achieve—Cleveland]
- The study’s objective was to determine the impact of a Cleveland, Ohio, program designed to increase employment retention among low-wage workers in the long-term nursing care industry. Cleveland was one of 16 sites nationwide to participate in the Employment Retention and Advancement (ERA) project.
- The authors randomly assigned 44 firms to either a treatment group, whose employees could receive employment retention services through Cleveland Achieve, or a control group. The authors collected employment and earnings data from state Unemployment Insurance (UI) records.
- Three years after random assignment, the study found no statistically significant differences between the earnings and employment outcomes of employees in Achieve firms compared with employees in firms that did not have access to Achieve services.
- The quality of causal evidence provided in this study is high because it was based on a well-implemented randomized controlled trial. This means we are confident that any estimated effects would be attributable to the Achieve program, and not to other factors. However, the study found no statistically significant impacts.
The Employment Retention and Advancement project, Cleveland
Features of the Intervention
The ERA project was introduced in 1999 as a nationwide exploration of factors that help low-income adults not only find employment but retain their positions and advance in their careers. Cleveland was one of 16 sites across the United States to receive funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to implement a program intended to improve welfare recipients’ employment outcomes.
The Achieve program was designed to increase retention among low-wage employees. Workplace-delivered services consisted of three components: case management, weekly life skills learning sessions, and training for supervisors who worked with predominantly low-wage employees.
Features of the Study
Researchers randomly assigned firms, rather than people, in this study because it was too difficult to keep the experiences of treatment and control people separate within a firm. The authors targeted firms that had hired at least 15 workers who earned less than $13 per hour in the six months before the study began, focusing specifically on the long-term nursing care sector because of that industry’s reputation for high turnover. Of the 44 participating firms, 22 were assigned to implement Achieve and 22 were assigned to the control group. Employees of firms assigned to the control group did not have access to Achieve services but could seek employment support in the community.
The authors estimated program impacts on employees’ employment rates and earnings using UI records for three years after random assignment.
- The study found no statistically significant differences between employees whose firms were assigned to either the treatment or control group on employment or earnings outcomes over the three-year follow-up period.
Considerations for Interpreting the Findings
The authors noted that providing long-term nursing care, the target industry for the intervention, is an intensive occupation that leaves little time to participate in employment-related activities, even when those activities are situated within the workplace. Thus, program staff struggled to maintain engagement among participating employees, which could have limited Achieve’s impact.
Causal Evidence Rating
The quality of causal evidence provided in this study is high because it was based on a well-implemented randomized controlled trial. This means we are confident that any estimated effects would be attributable to the Achieve program and not to other factors. However, the study found no statistically significant impacts.