Employment consultants have a central role in providing personalised employment support to help people return to employment.

But what makes a high performing employment consultant?

Work Counts strategic advisor, Dr Helen Lockett posed this question to webinar attendees, before providing an overview of the findings from her review of the literature.

A review of the evidence

Helen’s doctoral thesis investigated the factors which are most likely to further improve the performance of individual placement and support (IPS) employment support programmes, once good fidelity to evidence-based practices is obtained.

In the webinar presentation, Helen explained that if IPS employment support programmes are reaching good fidelity, it is likely that the employment consultant team has a good skill level. After all, fidelity items 12-25 specifically focus on the work that the employment consultant undertakes.

At the same time, adherence to fidelity ensures a service structure that enables employment consultants to provide a personalised, intensive employment support programme, such as low caseloads and a dedicated focus on employment activities.

Yet, why is it that some employment consultants consistently achieve good results within the same IPS employment programme?

The role of employment consultants

Employment consultants:

  • work on a one-to-one basis with programme participants to plan the job start or return to employment, based on participants’ preferences, skills and interests
  • coordinate support with other stakeholders providing non-employment services around the person’s employment aspirations
  • provide ongoing advice, general problem-solving and practical assistance to support a person to maintain employment, return to work or transfer to another job
  • work with whānau, local businesses and other members of the community to help people get and keep jobs
  • work directly with employers to identify suitable jobs, arrange job starts, provide onsite coaching or training (these activities involve supporting employers as well as job seekers/employees).

Distinguishing behaviours of higher performing employment consultants

In the webinar, Helen covered how to go beyond basic competencies and develop employment consultant expertise.

Helen’s targeted review of the literature found higher performing employment consultants tend to:

  • establish a working alliance with everyone on their caseload
  • secure jobs that align with the desires and preferences of participants
  • develop participants’ job search skills
  • provide employment assistance in the workplace and support employers
  • develop a network of employers
  • build effective working relationships with a range of stakeholders
  • put in extra effort to understand and address each participants’ employment assistance needs and any related barriers
  • effectively manage a caseload of participants.

Feedback from participants

A very clear overview of the actual outcome of the research, very relevant to the work of the EC and supervisors

What we already intuitively know being backed up by evidence. A great reminder of the awesome job ECs do despite continuous challenges from external factors.

Helen’s indepth knowledge of EC work was valuable.

View an extract from the webinar recording below.


In her presentation, Helen acknowledged her PhD supervisors, Geoff Waghorn and Rob Kydd, both of whom provided valuable insights and their expertise to this literature review.

Helen also thanked the many participants who get involved in research. This knowledge is crucial to enable us to improve the support we offer to people to gain and maintain employment.