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Supporting a Workforce That Supports the Community

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As high inflation continues to pose a challenge for the American consumer, research shows that two-thirds of Americans plan to still spend the same or more on retail purchases in 2023. However, it’s no surprise that many of those consumers plan to prioritize shopping for bargains in-store. With the resurgence of in-person retail shopping post-pandemic, retail employers nationwide are sharing many of the same struggles and obstacles in finding talent to work to meet consumer needs and expectations.

Goodwill of Colorado is a registered 501(c)(3) organization providing career placement, education and training, and community programs for more than 127,000 Coloradans each year — including military veterans, seniors, youth and individuals who have a disability or barrier to employment. For more than a century, we have supported Colorado communities and each year we divert more than 200 million pounds of donated items from Colorado landfills. We know first-hand what it means to support a workforce that directly supports the communities we serve.

As a proud second-chance employer, we are committed to building our communities through our workforce and through our offerings. We understand that resources are key to an employee’s personal and professional growth. Here are a few key takeaways we’ve learned to build a workforce that will also build a powerful community:

The importance of training and mentorship. A great way to support growth and employee satisfaction as an employer is to encourage peer-to-peer mentorship. Both associate and managerial-level employees can learn a great deal from each other in the workforce. It also encourages employees with diverse experiences to open up to each other, developing a deeper employer connection. Training is equally as important to assure your employees that they too can continue to improve their skill sets. Look to workforce development programs that your employees would be interested in; for example, at Goodwill of Colorado we offer our employees access to career training in banking, information technology, retail operations and logistics. We also assist our team members in navigating the many community resources available to them.

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Encourage community employment and identify their unique needs. It’s critical to build a workforce that has a true connection to your community and can relate to its values and ideals. For retail workers in particular, more often than not many of the candidates that come through the pipeline will be community members themselves. In supporting community employment, we’re also directly impacting the way in which we serve our community. Our people are the people we serve.

Providing benefits that matter. Our employees are our family. We want them to live their best life possible, and that means offering benefits they can leverage to make their lives easier and more rewarding. One example of how we’re able to support our employees is by providing essential financial wellness benefits such as DailyPay. Through our partnership with DailyPay, we can provide our employees with access to their earned pay as they earn it, along with free financial coaching. For many of our employees, this is a game-changer. With choice and control over their pay, they can pay bills on time and avoid having to use payday loans to make ends meet. It not only sets them up for success and financial prosperity in the future; it also encourages them to make the right financial decisions today.


Gary Smith is Chief Mission Officer at Goodwill of Colorado, which he joined in December 2008 to implement and manage the Corporate Training and Development function. His role was later expanded and he was promoted to Director of Learning and Continuous Improvement. In April 2016, Smith became the VP of Human Resources, Organizational Development and Continuous Improvement. In 2022, he became the Chief Mission Officer, overseeing all Community Impact, Education and Training Programs, Human Resources/Learning and Development.

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