The goal of Pearl Buck Center Employment Services is to create meaningful employment opportunities for people with developmental or intellectual disabilities, learning disabilities, physical disabilities or a combination, by working with businesses and the community at large.
As an employer, you may be wondering if this type of arrangement might work for your business. Perhaps you have a lot of questions, a few concerns, or you are not sure where to begin. Hopefully, these FAQ’s can help. Employers who are not in a position to hire can still contribute by generating other business contacts or providing job shadow, work assessment or informational interview experiences.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS OF EMPLOYERS
What is a developmental or intellectual disability?
These terms are used to describe people with a cognitive disability who have difficulty learning and need assistance to carry out the practical and social activities of daily living. It is a term that is used to describe a wide range of individuals with unique skills and abilities that needn’t preclude them from participating in a work-related situation. Developmental disabilities include (but are not limited to) Down Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, and Autism.
What is a learning disability?
This term is used to describe people who have difficulty learning and acquiring knowledge and skills to the level expected of those of the same age, especially when not associated with a physical handicap. Often these disabilities are referred to as “hidden disabilities”: the person looks perfectly “normal” and seems to be a very bright and intelligent person, yet may be unable to demonstrate the skill level expected from someone of a similar age.
A learning disability cannot be cured or fixed; it is a lifelong challenge. However, with appropriate support and intervention, people with learning disabilities can achieve success in all areas of their life including a work situation. Learning disabilities may include; Dyslexia, Dyscalculia, Dysgraphia and Memory, to name a few.
What should I expect from an employee with a developmental or learning disability?
Like anyone else, people with developmental or learning disabilities have strengths and weaknesses, talents and abilities. These talents could include experience and interest in your line of work and soft skills you find beneficial to your workplaces such as customer service skills, teamwork, and strong motivation for work. There may be someone in our program today with a developmental disability who has some or all of the specific skills you are looking for to enhance your business.
What do I have to offer?
At first, you may think that there are no jobs at your workplace for someone with a developmental disability. Take a look around. Ask your managers to list the things that they need to be done and do not have time to do, or that take time away from more skilled employees. The possibilities are endless. You don’t have to work this out alone, either. If you’re not sure how a person with a developmental or learning disability can fit into your business, call us to arrange a tour so we can observe the work environment, learn about your specific business needs, and offer suggestions.
I can’t offer a full-time job. Does that mean I can’t hire someone?
Not at all. Many people with developmental disabilities are interested in working part-time. Some people that we work with are only seeking 20 hours or less per week. In fact, part-time employment may be the best way for an employee to learn and master the skills needed for your business.
How will this affect my other employees?
Many co-workers tell us that working alongside a person with a developmental disability has enhanced their teamwork and their work culture. If your employees are uncertain about the concept initially, it’s usually because they have no idea what to expect. We can help you address this issue in several ways. An employment consultant from Pearl Buck Center can visit your business and individually meet with staff to help answer any questions or address concerns that may exist. As your business needs and personnel are always changing, we are there to help you meet these challenges. You and your employees needn’t worry that they will be required to train the new employee. Other than for the initial training, Pearl Buck Center Community Services will provide a job trainer/coach who will provide any additional training/coaching needs.
What about accommodating special needs?
If you think about it, you are accommodating the individual needs of employees all the time, usually, this happens after the person has been hired. This may range from providing hand rests for staff using computers, flex time programs, to simply helping a co-worker with physical tasks that they are not strong enough to carry out themselves.
We may already be aware of the accommodations that will be needed for the new employee prior to hiring and can assist with putting something in place at the very beginning. Most of the time, making accommodations for someone is simple and does not cost your business anything at all. These may include; extra training time, altering schedules or tasks. And some accommodations are very low cost, like; headphones, additional lighting or purchasing a digital clock. If necessary, there are grants available for workplace modifications or assistive technologies. Keep in mind that many of the accommodations are universal and will be beneficial to your other employees as well and thus making everyone’s job more efficient.
Ask us for more information, part of our services include assisting with many of the accommodations that may be needed, from supplying simple task lists or time management tools to providing the extra training that may be needed.
Will I have support?
Absolutely! If you decide to hire someone with a developmental disability, a job coach is available to help you or your staff train the person. As your new employee learns the skills needed for the job, the job coach fades back or entirely out of the picture. If you need help teaching your employee new skills, later on, a phone call is all it takes to bring the job coach back to the forefront or back to the worksite.
What about liability?
As a responsible employer, you are already providing a healthy and safe workplace, and your business has Workers Compensation and general insurance coverage. Hiring someone with a developmental disability does not increase your liability. If there is a medical condition or anything else that could affect health and safety on the job, you need to know about it, just as you would with any other employee. We find that many of the individuals that we work with are extremely aware of safety on a worksite and like anyone, they really don’t want to be hurt or cause harm to a co-worker.
What about wages?
Employees with developmental disabilities earn minimum wage or above depending on the assigned job duties and the employer’s pay scale.
How will this benefit my business?
Many employers are finding it hard to find reliable, long term, entry-level employees. People with developmental disabilities are a labor source that is vastly underutilized by most industries and businesses. Many employers tell us that hiring someone with a developmental disability is not only great for the business community and company culture but cost-effective toward their bottom line as well.
Businesses have cited that overall there is less turnover and absenteeism, higher morale and workplace loyalty as well as an uptick in productivity and business as a result of hiring people with developmental disabilities.
What if I’m not able to hire, how else might I be able to get involved?
If you aren’t able to hire through us at this time we would highly encourage you to work with us in other ways. We are always looking for opportunities to partner with a business that will allow our clients, work or interview experiences.
Job Shadowing –is a work experience option where a person learns about a job by walking through the work day as a shadow to a competent worker. The job shadowing work experience is a temporary, unpaid exposure to the workplace in an occupational area of interest to the person.
Work Experience Assessments –is any experience that a person gains while temporarily working in a specific field or occupation, but the expression is widely used to mean a type of volunteer work that is commonly intended for people to get a feel for professional working environments. We use this type of experience to gather information from both the ’employer’ and the ’employee’, to assess the skills of the individual and train new skills. We usually ask that the assessment lasts for 30 days or more.
Internship –is a temporary position with an emphasis on on-the-job training rather than merely employment, and it can be paid or unpaid.
Informational Interviews –(also known as an Informational conversation) is a meeting in which a potential job seeker seeks advice on their career, the industry, and the corporate culture of a potential future workplace; while an employed professional learns about the job seeker and judges their professional potential and fit to the corporate culture, thereby building their candidate pool for future hires. This differs from a job interview because the conversation is not about hiring and not about a specific job. The potential candidate asks general questions about the nature of the company or the industry, and the “insider” learns his or her professional character at the same time.
Please feel free in contacting us if you are able to provide any of these types of experiences- firstname.lastname@example.org
I just don’t have much time to invest, are there other ways I can partner with Pearl Buck Center?
We realize that time is money and value your interest in partnering with us in any way possible. Perhaps you could speak with your business contacts/associates, asking if they have the need to hire from Pearl Buck Center or get involved in some way. Passing on our contact information would be appreciated.
Being a not-for-profit we are also always looking for businesses to partner with by way of donations if you are not able to participate in any of the ways listed above, but still want to contribute. In addition, we have need for sponsors and/or attendees to fundraising events, as well as volunteer opportunities. You can contact our Director of Leadership Giving, Christine Richman for more information.
One last way you can work with Pearl Buck Center is if you have food packaging, simple or systematic assembly, mailing or engraving jobs that need filling , consider using our production center. Get in touch with John Whalen, our Operations Specialist/Business Developer and schedule a tour to see how we can assist you with your business needs.
Hopefully, we have answered many of the questions that you have. If we missed something, please contact us and schedule an appointment so we can discuss further any remaining concerns or questions that we haven’t covered here.