A government agency goes virtual to help more job-seeking residents

Government and Public Sector teams configured a platform that fast-tracks job seekers and frees up case managers.

The better the question

With staff in short supply, how do you satisfy surging demand?

As the need for case managers rose, a state workforce services agency turned to EY to address supply.


As state and local governments across the US reacted to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, a state workforce services agency in the Southeast turned to innovation.


The agency, a division of the state’s Department of Labor, was experiencing an unprecedented 30X increase in demand for re-employment services as businesses statewide reduced staff and closed their doors.


Many of those who had lost their jobs were seeking government assistance for the first time and had no idea how to navigate the system. Due to the pandemic, the workforce services offices were not fully staffed, compounding the difficulties facing residents and the agency. The division was proceeding with caution, bringing its case managers back into the office slowly. The few who were working on-site couldn’t handle the crush of residents seeking help.


Historically, the agency’s re-employment services were handled face-to-face, with case managers interacting with residents through nearly every step of a process that, without guidance, can be complicated and unclear. But a drastically reduced staff and a highly transmissible virus meant that was no longer possible.


How would the agency’s small staff provide meaningful help amid a vast, and growing, number of those in need and with limited in-person interaction?

Man smiling at laptop on sofa

The better the answer

The team configured a tool that lets residents choose services

Phase Two of the project expanded users’ capabilities to include online scheduling.


The goal was to simplify what can be a complex and overwhelming menu of services, particularly when people are navigating it at a vulnerable point in their lives.

The agency sought help from EY Government and Public Sector (GPS) professionals. The GPS team, working alongside agency professionals, created the Virtual American Job Center (VAJC), a tool that provided a virtual self-service experience.

“The goal was to simplify what can be a complex and overwhelming menu of services, particularly when people are navigating it at a vulnerable point in their lives,” says EY US Executive Director Chris Gianutsos. Rather than having to navigate the process on their own, residents can use the tool to explore the various services and programs available at their local American Job Center (AJC). “They can begin their journey of exploring those services without leaving the comfort of their homes,” says Gianutsos, whose focus is innovation and experience design.

Based on the personal information they provide, residents learn what they are eligible for and can then connect with the AJC. The effort was divided into two phases. During Phase One, the GPS team created an Eligibility Wizard to help individuals determine what programs are relevant for them. Phase Two was dedicated to configuring an online scheduling tool to take users to the natural next step of their journey.

Understanding before integrating

The team was divided fairly equally between two groups: an experience design team and a tech delivery team.

  • The experience design team’s first step was to gain a clear and thorough understanding of the needs of the department’s job-seeking customers. They used that information to build user personas and construct the journeys that those users would take to achieve their goals.

“We worked through all of the functional requirements with the agency on what it was they were trying to accomplish and what some of that experience would feel like,” Gianutsos says. “For example, the need set and background of a skilled trade worker are different from those of a teacher,” he adds. “We need to accommodate the journeys and interaction patterns for both.” Additionally, the team wanted to make it easy for individuals who qualify for specialized federal programs (e.g., veterans) to understand the options available to them.

  • The tech delivery team then built all of those capabilities on largely cloud-based commercial platforms. They started by assessing the client’s environment to understand what preferred vendors they were already using. The site was built on the client’s content management system (CMS) of choice, and the team selected plug-ins that were compatible with that CMS. The team also worked with state technology resources on a transition plan to make sure they would be comfortable supporting the new tools as the project team rolled off.

Training agency workers on the new tool

Staff members at each of the agency’s local offices needed training on the use of the virtual scheduling tool. The new capability requires users to manage a shared calendar and to provide timely responses to residents’ inbound requests. The EY team worked diligently to apply the appropriate mix of change management and training in order to get workers at each of the offices up to speed on the platform.

Focused young couple with laptop

The better the world works

Time saved freed caseworkers to tackle high-level challenges

The ripple effects build a stronger, healthier world, with favorable responses.


Results show that the VAJC platform has shortened the intake process considerably, with significant results. Statewide, case managers were freed up to concentrate on tasks that require more high-level thinking.

Other benefits of the platform include the ability to:

  • Measure the level of interest and engagement with specific programs
  • Make strategic and financial decisions based on user engagement and activity
  • Proactively identify geographic customer “hot spots” to make strategic resource decisions

The VAJC’s self-service capabilities and the convenience of virtual visits and online scheduling could have far-reaching effects. The broad reach made possible by the platform could help to improve the lives of thousands of individuals and families statewide. Ultimately, the ripple effects build a stronger, healthier world. The agency acknowledges the value of the VAJC and has expressed its desire to drive more residents there.

Agency administrators have also shared residents’ favorable responses to the platform. “The anecdotal feedback that they have provided us is that their customers like it,” Gianutsos says. Now, he adds, “They are looking for ideas on how to expand upon the foundation that we built.”