Social Work Professor on Working Poor

Contact: Jennifer Allen

 

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Swanberg believes a key rationale for these programs is that they make good business sense. In addition to supporting employees with their multiple and often competing work and family responsibilities, they cultivate company loyalty.

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (Dec. 2, 2004) -- A University of Kentucky professor is receiving national attention for her research on the working poor and impact of workplace programs at large companies.

Jennifer Swanberg, assistant professor in the UK College of Social Work, was recently interviewed on National Public Radio (NPR) about low-wage workers in Levi Strauss & Co. and CVS Pharmacy.

Swanberg is co-author of a Boston College Center for Work and Family report titled “Increasing the Visibility of the Invisible Workforce.” The report focuses on the lives of the working poor and the impact various workplace programs have had at 15 different companies.

In addition to the NPR interview, the Nov. 28 issue of The Boston Globe featured an article on the report quoting Swanberg. The article examined results from Harvard, FleetBoston (which was studied prior to its merger with Bank of America), and a Watertown child-care provider, Bright Horizons. Each company had varying levels of low-wage employee benefits, such as Harvard’s Bridge to Learning and Literacy Program, Bank of America’s emergency financial assistance and Bright Horizons’ program that enables its employees to obtain certification as child development associates.

Swanberg believes a key rationale for these programs is that they make good business sense. In addition to supporting employees with their multiple and often competing work and family responsibilities, they cultivate company loyalty.

“Industries in the service sector are thinking more strategically about how to recruit and retain workers,” she said. “The service industry is very customer driven. Companies are recognizing that to provide good customer service, they need to invest in their workers. Investing in such initiatives is a win-win solution for companies and their employees.”


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