September 24, 2017
 
Metropolitan Boston Housing Partnership Finds the Right Partner

Keith Abbott: Seemed like the right thing to do
Seeking to reduce the time it spent screening job candidates, the Metropolitan Boston Housing Partnership established a partnership with the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission that enabled it to fill job openings – and increase productivity.

Established in 1983 as Boston Housing Partnership, Metropolitan Boston Housing Partnership (MBHP) today provides rental assistance, emergency shelter, economic literacy workshops, housing counseling and other services with a staff of 157 full-time employees, one part-timer, and an operating budget of $12,000,000.

Serving more than 20,000 households yearly, MBHP connects residents of Boston and 32 surrounding communities with safe, decent homes they can afford through a broad array of more than 15 state and private programs.

It’s a fast-paced environment in a high-turnover industry, which makes recruiting and hiring qualified candidates vitally important.

Adding to the challenge, MBHP places a priority on hiring candidates who speak at least one language in addition to English, which allows them to provide in-house interpretation and translation services for the diverse population they serve.

It thought the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission (MRC), a state agency that offers career training and placement services for people with disabilities, could help by placing workers with MBHP on a temporary trainee basis. The state covers the trainee salary and provides MBHP with a small employer stipend.

MRC also provides ongoing career counseling to help trainees adjust to life in the workforce and gain skills to help them thrive. At the end of the training period, MBHP has the option to offer the trainee a full-time position.

Over the course of six months, MBHP has hired three staff members through the partnership.

“We’re always looking for ways to improve the pool of candidates for any open position,” said Keith Abbott, director of human resources at MBHP. “Partnering with MRC was an excellent way to do that.”

Abbott was familiar with MRC, having established similar partnerships at previous employers, and he is thrilled to be able to bring this opportunity to MBHP. “It just seemed like the right thing to do,” said Abbott. “To give these folks a chance and to watch them excel, it’s a great feeling.”

Trainees also benefit from MBHP:
  • Abbott sets aside the employer stipend MBHP receives for trainee professional development, allowing them to attend trainings and conferences.

  • He also sets aside these funds to provide compensation if a trainee needs to take a sick or personal day, in lieu of official paid leave, which trainees would not otherwise have access to.

  • Trainees can also take part in MBHP’s mentoring program, matching one-on-one with an MBHP staff member to learn about the housing field and discuss career development.
MBHP has similarly benefited. For example, specialized career counseling provided by MRC ensures that trainees receive all the support they need while also freeing up capacity of supervisors and Human Resources. In performance reviews, MRC hires are getting some of the highest marks.

Abbott also said that MRC hires increase the productivity of their work teams and bring new ideas. One former trainee introduced a filing system she learned through her training at MRC that has now been implemented department-wide.

Abbott reports that the program is in demand, with managers requesting MRC trainees when positions become available. The program has been so successful that MRC recently selected MBHP out of its network of more than 100 employers across the state to be nominated for the Distinguished Employer Award, which the Greater Boston Employer Advisory Board presented to MBHP at the State House last month.

“MBHP and MRC are closely aligned in our missions,” said MBHP Executive Director Chris Norris. “We are both focused on making sure people have the tools they need to thrive economically. This is a natural partnership and we’re very proud of its success.”

July 2016



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