Looking Ahead to 2020
MDRC launched the In Practice blog in April 2019, to reflect lessons learned working side by side with program managers and staff in various partnerships. The goal of the blog is to present approaches that readers can adapt and incorporate to serve their specific program needs and challenges throughout the year. The line-up of topics for 2020 includes Designing Programs Around Real People’s Real Needs, How to Use Data to Improve Programs, Making Evidence-Based Practices a Priority, and Improving Programs by Improving Training.
Upping Your Staff Training Strategy
Program managers frequently put staff training near the top of their lists of ongoing challenges. The mix of diverse, complex training needs in many programs means managers may be responsible for orienting new staff, implementing new administrative procedures, or facilitating steps toward long-term program improvement. Change can be hard, and often, managers find that one-time training isn’t enough to ensure staff apply new concepts and procedures in their daily work. In much of MDRC’s work with programs, we view training as taking place within an iterative cycle of learning that we call “Learn-Do-Reflect,” in which trainers, program managers, and program developers work collaboratively with front-line staff.
Strategies for Creating Nudges Through Program Design
Last month’s post, “Show, Don’t Tell, Part 1,” explored the idea that program design is not neutral: the way staff organize office space, service flows, intake forms, and other processes influences participants’ decisions, and program outcomes. This post shows how intentional changes to procedures – through outreach, the flow of services, and staff-client interactions – help staff and participants reach their goals.
Using Nudges to Reach Program Goals
Nudges are powerful environmental cues that influence people’s decision making, but without forcing a specific choice or restricting their options. Once you start looking for them, you’ll see nudges everywhere. Using the example of different layouts for a high school cafeteria, MDRC’s Center for Behavioral Science (CABS) created an interactive training session on the power of physical space to provide nudges.
Tips to Keep Participants Coming Back for More
In just seven seconds, most people form a first impression. For program participants, this initial encounter can mean the difference between signing up for services – or walking away. The September 2019 In Practice blog post offers tips for programs seeking to have an impact from the get-go.
Using Data to Analyze Enrollment Drop-Off
Meeting enrollment goals is as much a function of recruiting eligible participants as it is a function of helping them successfully complete the enrollment process. Many programs, like those in MDRC’s evaluation of the WorkAdvance project, find that just a fraction of those they initially recruit to participate in their program end up enrolling. In this post, we examine some key lessons from MDRC’s evaluation of the WorkAdvance project to help turn program recruits into program success stories.
GIFs and Memes as Tools for Engagement
If you are a program operator, you may ask yourself, “How do I engage participants who stop attending services or are at risk of dropping out?” There is no standard answer. Tools for engaging participants can be as varied as the individuals that make up a target population. Programs can use many types of media – and a range of tones and styles – to reach their constituents and keep them engaged.
Eight Steps to Full Enrollment
The June post for MDRC’s operations web series, In Practice: Lessons for and from Practitioners, features eight steps to recruiting new participants in community improvement programs. MDRC field liaisons highlight tailored tips and practical advice to help staff members enroll new participants and maximize the full capacity of their programs.
In an earlier post, Setting Strong Benchmarks, we explored key questions for program administrators as they measure progress toward their goals. In this post, we look at the nuts and bolts of establishing the enrollment benchmarks that help programs reach their intended population.
Our partnerships in the Supporting Healthy Marriage (SHM) project illustrate how a simple calculation can break down broad enrollment targets into discrete and manageable goals that reflect a program’s specific needs.
Program managers and funders alike are increasingly asking themselves or their grantees, “Are we where we should be at this point in time?” The answer to this question can often be found by using benchmarks, which provide achievable, short-term goals that can help gauge progress toward bigger, longer-term goals that are integral to service delivery.