The study showed an increase in use of the program of 58% in the Portland area, and 100% outside of Portland by employers over a 12 month period. Work Share is a program that gives employers during a time of economic downturn, an alternative to laying off staff. Through Work Share, an employer may reduce staff work hours, saving labor costs, and the affected workers in turn can receive a partial unemployment benefit payment to help cover lost wages. The major barrier for employers using the Work Share Program, the study confirmed, is being unaware of its existence.
More than 8,400 jobs have been saved by the Work Share program since it began in 1983. Many different types of businesses use the program and experience a variety of benefits through their participation, such as the retention of skilled employees, preservation of quality and efficiency, and an ability to go back to full-time operations as soon as the market allows. Since its inception, the Work Share program has helped more than 1,700 employers avoid layoffs in Oregon.
The Chief Evaluation Office (CEO) of the U.S. Department of Labor (U.S. DOL) contracted with Westat and its subcontractors, the Upjohn Institute for Employment Research and Social Dynamics, to evaluate the effectiveness of informational campaigns designed to increase employer awareness and use of the Work Share Program, also known as Short-term Compensation. The study covered the programs in Oregon and Iowa.
Throughout the process, the Oregon Employment Department engaged employers around the state through webinars and in-person presentations.
“We understand that government programs are often seen as cumbersome,” said Salena De La Cruz, Work Share Project Manager. “We’ve reduced the paperwork and made the program very accessible. The enhanced program provides a good option for businesses to consider when facing market fluctuations.”
Partnering with the Oregon Employment Department, a 12-month informational campaign was designed to educate employers in the Portland area and targeted treatment areas around the state. The campaign included informational mailings, presentations, and internet postings. Throughout the campaign, feedback on Work Share was gathered from employers. Incorporating this feedback, the Oregon Employment Department worked to streamline the application process and promote the program statewide.
In addition to an increased use of the Work Share Program, the study found an increased awareness of the program by employers of more than 30%. Companies interested in the program can contact a program specialist at 503-947-1800, toll free 1-800-436-6191 or by emailing OED_WorkShare@Oregon.gov.