Workforce.com

A Roadmap for Developing Partnerships

Steve Wing, director of government programs at CVS, wants other companies to take advantage of one-stop federal job centers and faith-based organizations. Wing offers advice for companies that want to emulate CVS’ initiative.

March 23, 2007
CVS has developed a competitive advantage over the past several years by turning to the government and churches to help it recruit and retain the unemployed and former welfare recipients.

    Although the program is helping the drugstore chain find workers that its rivals miss, it doesn’t jealously guard the initiative as if it were a proprietary secret. Steve Wing, director of government programs at CVS, wants other companies to take advantage of one-stop federal job centers and faith-based organizations.

    Wing offers the following advice to emulate CVS’ initiative.

  • Develop partnerships with local agencies and churches. In Washington in 2001, the company co-located a CVS Regional Learning Center with a one-stop job facility run by the District of Columbia Department of Employment Services. It also has a deep partnership with Mount Lebanon Baptist Church. In other cities, the company works with local workforce boards and with large nonprofit organizations such as the National Council on Aging. It takes time to make these kinds of connections, but the investment pays off. "In the long run, you’re going to get better people," Wing says.
  • Give as much as you get. CVS finds talent, while the local government transforms its constituents from being unemployed to being taxpayers. Also, CVS has established a presence in Washington as a model corporate citizen. The area around its Regional Learning Center has been redeveloped, in part because of the company’s commitment to the community. "Partnerships are important," Wing says. "You have to make sure everybody wins."
  • Collaborate with other business partners. Providence, Rhode Island, is not a big enough market for CVS to support a Regional Learning Center. So it joined forces with the National Retail Federation and the local workforce board to set up a skill center in the Providence Place Mall. CVS uses the center to train pharmacy technicians. There is also a customer service training program for people who will be placed with other retailers.

    The proof that the CVS approach works is the reaction it generates from store and regional managers, Wing says. They are pleased with the new staff members that come from the learning centers.

    "When they say they’re getting what they want, we want to do more of that kind of thing," he says.