What Does Diversity Do for Your Business?
(Photo above: Katie (right) with Janice | Photo Courtesy of Central Oregon Employment First)
What can a diverse workforce do for your business? When people think of diversity, they frequently think of gender and race, but it is less common for employers to think in terms of ability. An individual with intellectual/development disabilities (IDD) could be the perfect employee you haven’t considered.
For a number of reasons, employees who experience disabilities can be a particularly good fit for small businesses. For example, a part-time worker fits into the budget of smaller businesses, and many IDD employees are seeking jobs that are not full time. A part-time employee can take on many of the small jobs that prevent full-time workers from being as efficient and focused as possible. As Patti Rausch says of AJ, an administrative support staff member at the Diocese of Baker, “AJ’s role in the office allows staff to be more productive in other areas of their work.” His jobs range from organizing their newsletter and filing to sorting mail and stocking supplies, and, “everything AJ does allows us to do other important tasks in the office.” AJ follows a calendar of daily, weekly and monthly tasks which allows him to work independently, leaving full time employees focused on their work.
As an employer, do you feel that a good attitude is a key aspect in an excellent employee, and one you can’t train someone to have? Take Katie, an employee of the Redmond School District in Redmond High School’s nutrition services area as a perfect example of a motivated employee who would fit perfectly in any work environment. Her supervisor, Janice, is the kitchen manager. With the help of 1st Choice Assisted Care, LLC, she says she feels extremely fortunate to have Katie as part of her staff. She says they were looking for the person who was the “right fit for a long time.” She praises Katie, saying, “She is always positive and very dependable. Katie is terrific about asking questions to make sure she’s doing exactly what the kitchen needs, she’s cheerful and she has an upbeat personality, walking in with a smile and leaving with a smile.” As a manager, Janice places an emphasis on that particular quality in any employee, saying a positive attitude is “hugely valuable because it lays the foundation for a positive work atmosphere.”
Another key attribute of a terrific employee is loyalty, combined with dependability. With the support of a job coach — frequently available to an employee who needs extra support at no cost to the workplace — there are dozens of local job candidates who are anxious to find a workplace where they can become valuable, contributing members of a team. Garett is employed by Home Depot in Redmond. Sarah, his job coach, says, “Garrett is always on time and loves his job.” He earned a Bravo recently, an accolade for employees who go above and beyond. Garrett also received a Homer Award for living the values of the company and for excellence in his work. As Garrett himself will tell you, “I love working for this company and I’d love to work here the rest of my life.” He adds with a big smile, “Well, at least until I retire.”
For more information about employing a more diverse workforce in your business, visit employmentfirstcentraloregon.org, where you can find a list of local agencies who can help you find excellent candidates for your next job vacancy.