Helping small businesses invest in employees

Pro Bono Partners


Helping small businesses invest in employees

Since the turn of the century, the number of jobs in the Chicago region has continued to grow, but growth has been concentrated in low-wage positions (earning $32,000 per year or less), often providing limited stability. This puts a strain on working families, government spending, and the overall economy.

At the same time, many employers have improved low-wage positions by adopting "high-performance work practices," which focus on increasing productivity, raising employee morale, and reducing staff turnover. As companies implement these practices, employees gain additional skills, more stable jobs, and opportunities for upward mobility—and businesses see returns on their investments.

Because smaller firms often lack the resources required to learn about, customize, and implement these practices, Civic Consulting Alliance and pro bono partner Accenture hypothesized that by providing targeted, tailored assistance to small businesses, smaller firms could also implement high-performance work practices.
The team recruited five local small businesses—Precision Painting and Decorating, Landmark Pest Management, Interior Garden Services, Progressive Coating, and The Hopleaf Bar—to join the pilot cohort of the Chicago Small Business Advantage (CSBA). Over an eight-week period, owners and managers participated in customized workshops developed by the Civic Consulting/Accenture team and training partner Sagesse Lumiere, a small business consultancy created by business professors from the City Colleges of Chicago. Topics included hiring, performance assessment, staff development, compensation, scheduling, and change management.

Cohort participants are now applying lessons from the program at their companies. Meanwhile, Civic Consulting is identifying organizations with the capacity to roll out the CSBA program on a larger scale.
For more information on this project, contact Eric Patton.

The Program helped us see that every person on our staff is integral to accomplishing our firm's mission.

Rebecca Fyffe

Landmark Pest Management