This brief describes how employment programs for low-income adults are using research-based strategies to strengthen participants' self-regulation skills to help achieve employment outcomes. Based on site visits conducted as part of the Goal-Oriented Adult Learning in Self-Sufficiency (GOALS) project, strategies from the highlighted programs use emerging insights from psychology, neuroscience, behavioral science, and the study of goal achievement.

To help low-income adults achieve long-term self-sufficiency.  These strategies focus on directly improving or supporting the use of self-regulation skills as a way to help participants achieve employment goals.  Employment programs implemented cognitive behavioral therapy strategies, mindfulness techniques, motivational interviewing, and mental contrasting with implementation intentions interventions to strengthen participants' self-regulation skills. While implementation challenges, such as the time and resources to adapt existing intervention and the need to reinforce skills taught in a classroom setting or coaching session to real life surfaced, incorporating self-regulation strategies in employment programs.

Major Findings & Recommendations

Implementation lessons from the employment programs that added self-regulation strategies included the importance of:

  • training service delivery staff on the importance and science of self-regulation and how to implement self-regulation approaches for low-income, job-seeking adults,
  • hiring staff with backgrounds similar to the program target population to engender trusting relationships based on shared experiences,
  • integrating multiple interventions such as cognitive behavioral therapy and mindfulness to improve client self-regulation, and
  • fostering relationships among participants to combat social isolation and promote self-efficacy and motivation.

In addition to the above outcomes, the study found that programs that incorporated self-regulation strategies experienced an increase in overall program engagement.