The Pursuit of Happiness
Madeline Corchado knows the numbers by heart. She should. As the Director of Human Resources for the sprawling Cleveland Public Library system, tasked with serving as the first point of contact for issues related to its 500 employees, she is always in search of data that reflects the staff ’s well-being. After all, positivity equals productivity. Help someone eliminate stress, and their workplace performance can go from average to outstanding.
Which is why the numbers related to the library’s partnership with Community Financial Centers are so memorable.
“Every time I see the reports, I get a huge smile on my face,” says Corchado.
It’s been nearly three years since the library’s administration introduced employees to CFC: a mobile network of specially trained finance coaches who provide free money-management services — from credit rehabilitation tips and a budget training program, to financial health assessments and personal planning — so that Clevelanders can reach economic goals.
As part of the CPL F.I.T. (Feeling Incredible Together) program, administrators explained that CFC’s services were part of a well-rounded approach to improve employee satisfaction. Interactions with Walter S. Morris, Financial Services Manager for CFC, would be completely confidential, they said. Additionally, Morris would travel to them: CFC’s mobile equipment (including Wi-Fi, a laptop and printer) meant that the library, the individual’s home or even a coffee shop could double as Morris’ office.
Today, Corchado’s figures easily relay the program’s success.
“This year alone, 120 employees have utilized the financial counseling services — that’s already past our goal,” she says.
There are plenty of anecdotal numbers, too. For instance, the $17,000 that one staff member saved by renegotiating a loan, a process that was initiated and facilitated by a CFC coach.
“And then we have the people who are planning vacations that they never thought they could take,” says Corchado, “all because they’ve learned how to budget.”
It’s the sort of life-changing outcomes that were envisioned when a number of partners — including Cleveland Neighborhood Progress; the city of Cleveland; Cuyahoga Community College; Enterprise Community Partners; Neighborhood Housing Services of Greater Cleveland;
and the United Way of Greater Cleveland —collaborated to launch CFC, committed to enhancing the lives of locals through economic empowerment.
“When we walk into the workplace, we bring baggage from home with us,” says Corchado, who has seen firsthand the benefits of facilitating financial literacy.
“Our employees are happy because they feel like they’re in charge of their futures.”