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The paid work experiences are delivering tangible benefits for both workers and host businesses. Participants work in a setting that meets their accommodation needs, stay active in the workforce, and continue to earn a wage during their absence from their original employer. Because Workforce Development, Inc. is paying the workers’ wages, the work sites receive up to 200 hours of free labor (up to 29 hours per week) and the opportunity to meet some of their labor force needs—all while helping a person get their life back on track.

Minnesota RETAIN is reaping the rewards of this cutting-edge approach, which leverages valuable employer relationships that VanLaarhoven, through Workforce Development Inc., brings to the Employer Outreach Specialist role. When raising awareness about RETAIN and placing individuals in transitional work experiences, VanLaarhoven uses an important strategy: speaking the employer’s language. “We try to determine what is most important and relevant for them,” he explains. “By framing the RETAIN message in terms of how it will help the employer’s bottom line, you can bring more businesses on board and ultimately find solutions that can benefit all RETAIN customers.”