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Note: This overview is most relevant for social enterprises with a transitional employment model.

What is a Culture of Transition?

A culture of transition refers to the ethos of an employment social enterprise that encourages and supports the transitional nature of participant workers’ job experience.   

Why is it important?

  • Having a culture of transition enables employment social enterprises to:
    • Serve more people by ensuring that individuals graduate and make space for new participant workers on a regular basis. 
    • Support participant workers’ career goals by encouraging the pursuit of advancement via further education or permanent employment. 

Best practices   

Clearly establish the nature of a transitional job

  • At the outset of a participant worker’s time in the job, ensure that the individual is fully aware of and understands the transitional nature of the employment.
    • Establish a term limit or timing goal for exit from the transitional job. Consider establishing a one-term limit for all participant workers to avoid the appearance of favoritism. 
  • Continually discuss the transitional nature of the job with participant workers.
    • Throughout the work experience, ensure that participant workers fully understand the transitional nature of the job and their expected trajectory within the program.
    • Explicitly state that the goal of the transitional job is to develop hard and soft skills that are valuable in the workforce at large, as opposed to building a specific career at the organization.
  • Establish the range of possible positive outcomes with participant workers.
    • At the beginning of the transitional work experience, discuss with participant workers their goals for the post-transitional employment period to establish the limited duration of the program.
    • During coaching sessions, ensure that participant workers are aware of the range of positive outcomes, including enrolling in additional schooling, securing full-time employment at the social enterprise (if applicable), or moving to another permanent employer.
  • Create incentives for securing and sustaining external employment / education.
    • Define your organization’s role in job development for participant workers, opting to either proactively seek out appropriate job opportunities on behalf of participant workers or to more passively support participant workers as they independently engage in the job search. 
    • Consider offering bonuses to motivate and reward participant workers who secure and sustain external employment.
    • Post-transition retention services and incentives can help reinforce positive behaviors during permanent employment.

Ensure that full-time staff reinforce the transitional trajectory

  • Make sure that managers celebrate job milestones for transitional workers.
    • As workers move towards graduation, managers should formally acknowledge their progress and openly discuss the end of transitional employment as it draws near.
    • At the end of transitional employment, hold a formal graduation ceremony to celebrate achievements and draw a clear line between the transitional job and whatever comes next.
  • Hold full-time staff accountable for exit metrics.
    • Successful participant transitions should be a performance goal for full-time staff to ensure that their activities align with encouraging transition (especially because worker turnover can make managers’ jobs more difficult).
    • Provide bonuses or other incentives to enterprise and program staff for achieving transition goals.