JEFFERSON CITY, MO -- Spring arrives and Missouri begins to shake off the cold, but the seasonal change brings about a different hope for the thousands of Missourians who work seasonal, outdoor jobs that have been without employment during the winter months.
Every year, from around the beginning of November through February, the Missouri Department of Labor’s Employment Security Division faces a substantial increase in weekly unemployment benefit claims and calls from workers who need help filing claims.
“As with any busy season, increased workloads and longer wait times create more pressure for staff and claimants filing unemployment claims,” says Division of Employment Security Acting Director Chris Slinkard.
To combat this trend, the Division instituted a cross-training program with current staff who do not normally work in call centers and enabled them to answer calls and help Missourians file their unemployment claims.
Director Slinkard says it was all hands on deck.
“We ensured all personnel, including myself, underwent training to take claims. A rotational schedule of the various units and staff was employed, so that everyone would assist with claims, but have time to perform regular duties.”
As more help arrived in the call centers, the stats immediately began to improve. Comparing a five week period ending the week of January 20, 2018 to the same period one year earlier, wait times were reduced by 41 percent, and calls answered increased by 29 percent.
“The cross-training was a great success,” continued Slinkard. “Non-claims staff fielded approximately 10,000 calls that might have been deflected or resulted in longer wait times. We plan to continue the practice, and look at other cross-training opportunities in other areas.”
The addition of these cross-trained employees to the call center unit not only spoke to management’s commitment to getting calls answered in a timely matter, it also showed staff’s dedication to providing the best services possible to those that need them.
Now, as spring arrives and more people find employment, the call centers will see a decrease in filed claims, but the cross-trained employees will stand ready to help when winter comes again.
For more information about the Division of Employment Security or the Unemployment process, visit labor.mo.gov/des.