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Stop the hop: Workers average 2.3 jobs in a 5-year span

A Q&A with Hillcrest Educational Centers, which embraces workers' diverse experiences, varied skills

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PITTSFIELD — Never before have workers in the United States had so many occupational options.

It’s a boon for job seekers, but a bane for employers. Job-hopping (yep, that’s a thing) from one employer to the next has become such a commonplace practice that employers are changing their preconceived notion that a resume riddled with multiple jobs is a red flag.

In fact, now it’s the status quo.

“As such, we at Hillcrest Educational Centers are reframing our hiring practices, such that these are the kinds of candidates — highly skilled and diversely experienced — that we embrace,” said Shaun Cusson, Hillcrest executive director.

Workers are leaving jobs for greener pastures more these days. The average number of jobs per worker held from 2016 to 2018 was 1.3, while the average number of jobs held over five years was 2.3, according to a LiveCareer study in 2018.

Although job-hopping rates might vary based on generation and educational levels, the “itch to switch” appears to be anyone’s game if an employer loses focus on key areas that resonate with today’s workers: learning and growth, impact, collaboration, transparency, security, work/life balance and recognition for a job well done.

Here's a series of questions and answers that will shed some light on Hillcrest, its mission and our workplace culture:

Q: How much of a challenge is job-hopping for Hillcrest Educational Centers?

A: Despite our compelling mission, the ability to offer purpose-driven careers, generous benefits and everything else we have rolled in our employment experience, we are not immune to the job-hopping trend and have seen an uptick in staff leaving for other opportunities.

Q: Can you give us a quick overview of your organization?

A: We are a nonprofit, human service organization that is one of the Berkshire’s largest employers. We are over 550 staff strong and provide care, treatment, and educational services to more than 170 youth with exceptional needs in day school and residential settings at locations in Pittsfield, Lenox and Great Barrington. 2020 marks our 35th year of operation!

Q: What type of advancement opportunities exist for your staff?

A: Promoting from within is not just a catch phrase here. More than half of our senior and executive management members began their careers with us as a direct care staff. Even our chief financial officer did a stint as a child-care worker way back when, and two of our clinicians have risen through the ranks to run programs. If leadership isn’t your lofty goal, we have paths for our staff to become a teacher or clinician and support those efforts with our tuition-assistance programs. If someone wants to stay put and not move into another role, we have positional career ladders that have steps to move up within your current role in which you learn, become more engaged and get compensation increases.

Q: How do you stand out in regard to benefits?

A: We’ve asked our staff and done our research. We have a never-ending focus on what we can offer our staff beyond their salary.

A total compensation package for our staff includes a student loan paydown program, where we make payments to your loan principal to reduce the heavy burden of your college debt. Only 5 percent of employers in the U.S. offer this benefit. We have a paid birth and bonding leave to help staff financially when they are out on leave after the birth or adoption of a child. We have free services through Health New England (with no copay required) so you and your family members can get unlimited medical and mental health services without ever having to leave your home. We have a 403(b) retirement plan — like a 401(k) for nonprofit agencies — that includes free financial consultation, and we hold financial wellness workshops on site. We pay for fees associated with licensure or certification to help you remain current in your field of expertise. And, we just rolled out a new child care reimbursement program to help defray the cost of child care that includes both formal and information child care arrangements.

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Q: How do you recognize your employees and what type of engagement activities do you have?

A: We recognize our employees with monthly and annual awards from nomination from your co-workers. We listen to what our staff have to say with surveys and focus groups that give us an inside-out, honest look at where improvement efforts should be focused.

Q: Are there any organization-sponsored events for staff to participate in?

A: Throughout the year, we host free staff events and family gatherings. Whether it’s a bus to a ball game, a night of bowling in costumes, a day out at with family and friends at Jiminy Peak or a pancake breakfast for your kids over the holidays, we value our staff not just as employees, but people.

Q: How do you keep staff in the loop and connected to the direction of the organization?

A: Twice a year, we hold an all staff meeting and share everything from our financial picture, strategic initiatives, student successes and organizational challenges. It’s all there for staff to see. The meetings are optional, but attendance is tremendous. Last December, more than 500 of our staff attended between the two sessions we held that day.

Q: If someone wants to check out your organization online, where should they look?

A: Besides our website at www.hillcrestec.org, our online presence can be seen on Instagram, LinkedIn and Facebook. We often highlight events and activities that are part of our program with lots of great student and staff photos. To learn more about the amazing team of professional that you will work with if you join us, check out our blog at hillcresteducationalfoundation.wordpress.com.

Q: Can you tell me a little about your employee referral program?

A: We hire good people who know good people. Our referral program is great example of our staffs’ endorsement of us as an employer of choice when they tell those close and connected to them about a career opportunity with us. We incentivize staff referrals with a $1,000 bonus to reward your support.

Q: Who are you looking for to be part of your organization?

A: Our “product” isn’t like most businesses. We don’t sell something that you plug in or something that you eat. Our product is our students’ quality of life. We want someone to work for us who has an unwavering commitment to positively affect families and communities through one child at a time, someone who understands our students make significant gains when we build therapeutic relationships with them and teach them skills that they lack.

Q: What current positions do you have available?

A: We have a range of career options available to you, because it truly does take a village to make a difference in the lives of our students. Direct care, teachers and social workers are part of our current recruitment campaign.

Q: How does someone take next step and submit an application?

A: Give our recruiter, Gayle Murphy, a call at 413-499-7924, ext. 113, to learn more about us and how Hillcrest Educational Centers might just be the place for you to stop the hop. Interviews can be done in person, by phone or on an online video platform. Evening and weekend interviews are available upon request. Apply on our website at www.hillcrestec.org or on Indeed.


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