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Empowering an inclusive economic recovery by setting goals


February 24, 2021

One of the most important aspects of how we manage the Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) is the way we set goals and measure results. In 2019, we shared a new system we’ve put into place at the agency to set aspirational goals for every team, and measure progress every quarter. The system, called Objectives and Key Results (OKRs), is used by organizations around the world to build momentum toward a clear vision.

As we begin the road to an inclusive economic recovery from COVID-19 in Minnesota, setting goals and measuring results are more important than ever before. Today, we are sharing the results of our first year of using this framework at DEED, and are publishing the goals we’ve set to guide our agency’s work in 2021.

Our 2019-20 Objectives and Key Results can be found here, where you’ll see our year-end grades. The OKR system uses a 0.0-1.0 grading scale, and the sweet spot is a score of 0.6 or 0.7, which indicates you’ve pushed yourself to do more without making the goals too easy.

In 2020-21, our economy faces even steeper challenges as we recover from the economic challenges brought on by the pandemic. As Governor Tim Walz shared when he rolled out the administration’s COVID-19 Recovery Budget, we know that the effects of COVID-19 have been uneven across our state. While some sectors of our economy – like hospitality – are devastated, others – like manufacturing or health care – can’t hire people fast enough.

Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) Minnesota workers, people with disabilities, and those in lower-wage jobs have suffered far greater than other Minnesotans. Over the past year, 57% of the state’s Unemployment Insurance claims were from people making less than the statewide median average, and Black Minnesotans had a 67% chance of filing for unemployment. There is also an overrepresentation of BIPOC Minnesotans in the industries that have been impacted deeply by COVID-19, like the hospitality industry, caused by deep systemic deficiencies that have resulted in the uneven impacts of COVID-19.

DEED’s goals this year are rooted in these realities, and they span the entire agency. Our three big themes are equity, economic revitalization, and agency culture. Every team at DEED is responsible for setting a goal focused on creating a more equitable economy, contributing to our state’s economic revitalization, and strengthening our culture so that we can better serve Minnesotans.

Below, you’ll see the three goals we set for the agency in 2020-21, with some examples of how program areas will measure success against them. This is not an exhaustive list – there are over 100 goals across the agency – but it’s meant to show a snapshot of how we’re focusing our work:

Objective: Radically increase DEED’s economic impact for individuals and businesses that face systemic barriers to growth.

Examples of how programs measure progress:

• Increase the number of loans to Indigenous businesses and to emerging entrepreneur BIPOC-owned businesses by 10% in two loan programs that focus on these businesses.

• Ensure at least 50% of Launch Minnesota Innovation Grants in 2021 go to startup founders representing women, BIPOC, Greater MN, and veterans.

• Increase by 50% the percentage of CareerForce employees hired who are bilingual in the languages spoken by our customers.

• Ensure 100 BIPOC students with disabilities who attend schools in the Minneapolis area receive VRS Pre-Employment Transition Services (Pre-ETS) so that they are prepared for successful employment and/or post-secondary education upon transition from high school.

• Strengthen communication with grantees by hosting quarterly meetings to discuss challenges and best practices, provide seven technical assistance sessions on various fiscal and program challenges seen across the portfolio, and respond to inquiries within one business day.

• Create an inter-agency immigrant and refugee working group by Q2 2021.

In addition to the OKRs listed above, DEED is working on a legislative proposal that will modernize the Workforce Development Fund, ensuring the dollars are targeted toward programs that are centered in equity and achieve good-paying employment for job seekers. The proposal would create competitive grant programs to support new workforce training programs – those with a proven track record, and new innovations, too. We also include funds for support services that increase access for Minnesotans and create opportunities for them to find and keep employment.

Objective: Galvanize an economic recovery that advances Minnesota’s labor market, businesses, and communities for the next Minnesota economy.

Examples of how programs measure progress:

• Support business expansion, retention, and attraction throughout Minnesota by increasing outreach and engagement with employers by 10%.

• Increase by 25% the number of innovative businesses, organizations, and entrepreneurs we reach with our programs.

• Expand access to the Converting Layoffs into Minnesota Businesses (CLIMB) Program by increasing the enrollment of BIPOC participants by 30%.

• Land Minnesota in the top 5 of either the Milken Institute State Technology and Science Index, the National Science Foundation Science & Engineering state profiles, and/or WalletHub’s list for best ecosystems for innovation.

• Reach 500 employers through online business modules focused on hiring and retention of people with disabilities by July 2021.

• Ensure the Unemployment Insurance program recovers from pandemic response mode and returns to meeting and exceeding all federal performance standards; and improve access by reducing average phone wait times for both applicants and employers to 5 minutes.

Objective: Build a positive internal culture that makes DEED an extraordinary place to work.

Examples of how programs measure progress:

• Build a system to understand and drastically reduce regrettable attrition from the agency.

• Significantly strengthen DEED’s “net promoter score” to build our reputation as a great place to work.

• Establish and implement standards for remote work and implement best practices for maintaining team cohesion for collaborative work when done remotely.

• Develop and execute a new process for the way we welcome and train new employees from the offer letter through their first three months.

You can find a detailed list of every objective and key results here.

All of these goals roll up to the Governor and Lt. Governor’s goals for the state and complement the work being done across state government.

This year’s OKRs are not an exhaustive list of everything DEED tackles – but they represent areas of focus on which we’re trying to make significant progress for all Minnesotans. In the months ahead, we’ll push for new proposals as part of the Governor’s COVID-19 Recovery Budget that help accelerate our state’s economic recovery and keep equity at the forefront of our approach.

As One Minnesota, we believe we can work together to achieve DEED’s mission: to empower the growth of the Minnesota economy, for everyone.


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