The pandemic required us to rapidly rethink the way we operate.
From delivering most of our services in branches, offices or community settings up and down the country, we adapted and embraced remote working while maintaining delivery of all of our contracts.
Within three days, all staff had successfully transitioned to homeworking, and our contact centre went fully remote.
We wanted to share four ways our teams have responded to the pandemic and its effects, to help meet the needs of our service users.
Our transition to remote working saw increased digital engagement with service users. In addition to phone and email, we introduced video chat and social media platforms. Service users could choose the communications channels that worked for them.
This is particularly important for participants’ interview preparation and collaborative working on applications and training programmes. In Scotland, our local social media accounts have been a valuable for sharing updates on opportunities and labour market trends in the local area.
Supporting key sectors
While recruitment has fallen steeply overall since March, sectors such as healthcare, food retail, cleaning and logistics have seen unprecedented levels of recruitment to meet demand associated with the pandemic.
Our teams have supported their local strategic employer partners, as well as working closely with the Department for Work and Pensions through initiatives such as DWP Partners and Disability Confident.
In London, we have worked with supermarkets to quickly match the right participants to roles. Successful examples of this include Rosanna and Sam from East London, who were supported into permanent positions at Tesco and Marks & Spencer respectively following successful remote interviews.
A point of contact for service users
Most of the individuals we support have a disability, health condition or significant barrier to employment.
Thousands of our service users have been required to shield at home over recent months, and for many, our support has been invaluable in overcoming challenges in these difficult times.
Our teams have gone above and beyond to support individuals struggling with the impact of COVID-19. While employment support and skills development have remained our primary focus, we recognise the support we offer has to go further.
We’re now conducting regular check-ins for those who need it; making referrals to mental health services for people dealing with stress and anxiety; signposting to local services for those worried about debt or housing; and arranging food and medicine deliveries for those who cannot access basic supplies.
This underlines the invaluable role that employment support organisations play, and our staff’s commitment to transforming the lives of those we support.
We’re also encouraging our colleagues to play an active role in their local communities, and have been overwhelmed by the response.
In addition to their work helping service users, colleagues are running neighbourhood groups and food banks, volunteering with the NHS and helping other local services during this time of great need.
This month, the Maximus Foundation UK announced £50,000 in donations to local organisations delivering vital services and struggling with the impact of the pandemic.
All the charities were nominated by Maximus colleagues, and we know many of them, such as Working Wardrobe and Andy’s Man Club, deliver valued support for our service users.
Our colleagues have shown great resilience and flexibility over the past few months. We and other employment support providers will be required to step up once again to respond to the economic effects of the pandemic.
We’re ready for the challenge.