In January and February, the ROTA team held five community conversations in every workforce region in Missouri. Local community leaders, workforce, business representatives, and social service agencies came together to discuss the Recovery Friendly Workplace initiative and local community needs for training, technical assistance, and support. The events were well attended, and participants had an opportunity to voice concerns and needs around hiring and supporting employees in recovery. The ROTA team and Extension staff in Labor and Workforce Development presented an overview of the Recovery Friendly Workplace project, discussed results of the Missouri State Chamber of Commerce Employer Survey justifying a need for workplace training, detailed current activities, and discussed next steps. RFW leaders emerged in each section of the state. Businesses already practicing the Recovery Friendly Workplace tenets were given a chance to speak and share stories of success.
Each conversation featured a community leader who discussed RFW activities already occurring locally. Attendees heard about advancements being made to hire and support people in recovery in their local communities. Participants were given an opportunity to address current needs and future plans for local business efforts supporting employees. Feedback from one community indicated that several local businesses hesitant to hire employees in recovery were offering interviews and indicating a new openness to changing their hiring practices. Another community agreed to contact the local recovery centers when job vacancies occurred, to offer an employment opportunity to someone in recovery. Pre- and post-surveys completed by participants showed a favorable response indicating the attendees would highly recommend the event to peers and colleagues and felt that the conversations were valuable to the development of Recovery Friendly Workplaces. ROTA staff are incorporating the needs identified by local communities into trainings and blogs and are meeting to plan a statewide follow-up meeting to address findings and feature RFW workforce leaders.