Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Once Hired, Keeping the Job

AtWork! Employment Consultants initially take the role of helping the individual with a disability identify, choose, and access the needed workplace supports at whatever level of assistance the individual prefers. This would include helping the employer identify and provide the needed supports. The goal is to assist the business in supporting the individual with a disability rather than the person continually relying on AtWork! staff.

Workplace supports typically exist in a business and are available to all employees. They may include but are not limited to such things as a co-worker mentor who assists an employee in learning the job, a supervisor who monitors work performance, a co-worker who assists the new worker in developing social networks, or making maximum use of orientation training. This also could include other company sponsored training events, programs and benefits such as an employee assistance program. Workplace supports also may be specifically designed to assist a particular employee with his or her job performance. This could include modifications to the work environment, adjustments to employment policies or practices, and/or changes in the way certain job functions are performed that allow the employee to get the job done successfully.

The person with the disability may already know or have some ideas of what he or she needs. At other times, the individual may need guidance. Taking advantage of the support resources that are available in a workplace may not automatically occur for many individuals with disabilities.

Even if a resource exists, the individual may not know how to access or benefit from its use. He/she may be unaware of the potential support, how to choose among the support alternatives that are available, or how to access a desired resource. In addition, a company may have varying levels of resource options. For instance, one company may have an intensive orientation and training program while another has none. The existing workplace supports within any company must be analyzed to determine if they meet the needs of the individual with a disability who has been hired. A one time, two-hour lecture on company policies may be of little benefit, while a co-worker who explains the “unwritten rules” of the workplace to the new employee with a disability may be an extremely valuable resource.

When the employee and the employer agree that it is time to transfer responsibility for support from the AtWork! Employment Consultant to the workplace, the consultant will fade from the work site, allowing the employee to gain independence on the job. The consultant continues to check in as needed to ensure that success continues. When job responsibilities change or when there are changes to the normal routine, the consultant can step back in to provide additional training or coaching.

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