Current Affairs

My Take on W-2

My Take on W-2  (Shepherd Express editorial response to October 11, 2007 cover story about Wisconsin’s welfare to work program known as W-2)

The first thing that got my attention:  Why is having a child required to qualify for financial assistance under the Wisconsin welfare to work program?  Poverty hits singles and childless couples also.

By requiring someone to have a child to qualify, it sounds like an incentive to have children.  More children means more “free” money from the government.  I knew one family in my growing up years like that; they kept having children to get more money; and their children seemed to follow the same pattern.  People follow incentives.  Educators know this; parents know this; children know this.  Have the law makers forgotten?

What if benefits were available to singles and childless couples also—so they could get their own life on track first without the added complications of children?   Self care and self-esteem are foundational to wellness, career, and financial success.  Can we encourage life, self-esteem, and career skills, and birth control.  No added incentives for having extra kids, please.

I know the issues are complex.  It’s just that if we don’t start with and support single individuals and childless couples who are struggling economically, we encourage dependency patterns and the entitlement mindset to continue.

The second point that got my attention as a hiring professional:  Companies DO have jobs.   And they want to hire good, decent, honest, dependable, healthy people.  Some basic requirements to get hired for those jobs:

Finish high school or get your GED.   Knowing how to read, write, think, listen to and follow direction, and  high school level math skills are key building blocks to employment and learning.  Most employers hire a person and expect them to learn on the job.  They often provide training and continuing education opportunities.  The preliminaries of successfully completing the high school basics are your responsibility before you get to the employer.

Next, lose the vices of alcohol, cigarettes, and drugs.  Employers do pre-employment drug testing and worksites are smoke-free and drug-free.  With insurance costs rapidly increasing, Wisconsin employers are increasingly more health-habit conscious.

Third, attendance, punctuality, and dependability matter.  Time clocks don’t care if you’re a minute late or an hour.  Some employers have a ‘two strikes and you’re gone’ policy.  If you’re serious about having and keeping a job, show up every day, on time.

Fourth, honesty and a positive attitude are priceless.  Be responsible for your actions.  A positive attitude will give you an edge over someone who blames and whines.  Who would you rather work with?

Finally, safety matters; the safety of the employer’s workforce.  Do you have habits or a history that would make you a safety risk or concern for a prospective employer or any of their workers?  If so, what steps are you taking, have you taken, to change?  That too is your responsibility.

Once again, I come back to helping individuals get their own act together or cleaned up, without adding incentives to add dependent children and more costs and complications to the mix.

Thanks for asking and listening.

Anne Wondra, CHRM – Waukesha

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