Working Wise | DrumhellerMail - Page #14
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Last updateTue, 22 May 2018 8pm

I just hired a new electronics technician. She hasn’t started work yet, but she seems like a good fit. She has the education plus a great personality—but I’m a little worried. She uses a wheelchair and I’m concerned about the cost to accommodate her disab

Dear Working Wise:

I just hired a new electronics technician. She hasn’t started work yet, but she seems like a good fit. She has the education plus a great personality—but I’m a little worried. She uses a wheelchair and I’m concerned about the cost to accommodate her disability. What am I in for? Signed, Concerned  

 

Dear Concerned:

 

Hiring a new employee is always a gamble. Most times, they work out fine and your latest hire is no different.

 

One in seven Albertans has a disability including those with invisible disabilities, such as learning disabilities or mental health issues. You may already employ someone with a disability and not even know it.

 

And accommodating a disability is cheaper and easier than you might think.

 

A Job Accommodation Network survey of more than 1,000 employers found that 56 per cent of disabled employees required accommodations that cost nothing at all. Employers reported the average cost to accommodate an employee with a disability at $320 and 95 per cent said that it was a one-time cost.

 

You will also be pleased to know that the Disability Related Employment Supports (DRES) program helps Albertans overcome their barriers to employment. The DRES program can help offset at least some of the costs of worksite modifications or assistive technology.

 

That’s of course if she needs any modifications at all. Many people who live with physical disabilities have become experts in overcoming the challenges of daily living.

 

The fact is your new employee is more valuable than you think. Employees with disabilities bring to your company a number of competitive advantages.

 

Expand your customer base - employees with disabilities can identify with a diverse range of customers and anticipate their wants and needs. Anything you do to “accommodate” your new employee, e.g., automated doors, may help make it easier for your customers to access your business.  

 

Solve problems creatively - people with disabilities have lots of life experience thinking of innovative solutions to daily problems and challenges.

 

Improve your public image - hiring people with disabilities shows your customers and staff that your company is an inclusive organization that values everyone’s contributions.

 

Increase the talent pool - opening your doors to all Albertans gives you more choice to hire the best people. Job seekers with disabilities historically have been an untapped labour source, but technology and increased access to post-secondary education is allowing people with disabilities to reach their full potential and compete side-by-side with everyone else.

And help is available. Alberta Human Services funds several agencies around the province, which help employers attract and retain employees with disabilities.

 

Alberta Human Services also sponsors the Alberta Business Award of Distinction: Employer of Persons with Disabilities. You can read how Prospect Human Services’ Viable Calgary project helped Long View Systems win the 2012 award at www.facebook.com/calgaryjobsfeed/notes.

 

If you would like to nominate a business for the 2013 award, nominations are being accepted until November 23, 2012, at http://abbusinessawards.com.

 

For more information on the DRES program or help for employers who want to hire Albertans with disabilities, contact your nearest Alberta Works Centre and ask to speak to a Business and Industry Liaison.

 

Do you have a work-related question? Send your questions to Working Wise, at charles.strachey@gov.ab.ca. Charles Strachey is a manager with Alberta Human Services. This column is provided for general information.


I own two busy coffee shops, but I never have enough staff for either of them. How can I find new staff and keep my current staff when other employers are offering more money?

 

Dear Working Wise:

I own two busy coffee shops, but I never have enough staff for either of them. How can I find new staff and keep my current staff when other employers are offering more money? Signed, Rattled Restaurateur

 

Dear Rattled:

 

Yes, Alberta’s labour market has tightened over the past year.

 

Our unemployment rate has dropped below 4.5 per cent—the lowest rate in the country—and some employers are having trouble finding workers with the right skills or staff willing to stay at lower-paying jobs.

 

Employee turnover is expensive—replacing an employee costs between 70 per cent and 200 per cent of their annual salary.

 

Staff retention is no accident—successful employers invest careful thought into what attracts jobs seekers and keeps their employees coming to work every day.

 

A great starting point is to ask them:

·         Ask new hires why they came—highlight and build upon these factors;

·         Ask current staff why they stay—highlight and build upon these factors;

·         Ask departing staff why they are leaving; and

·         Ask current staff for suggestions for improvement and how to retain staff.

 

Keep records and look for patterns that highlight areas of weakness that you can improve upon. You should also watch for areas of strength that you can emphasize in your job postings.

 

Try these low-cost staff-retention ideas from the Beyond Pay & Benefits publication in the Government of Alberta’s Employer Tool Kit:

·         Reward cost-saving ideas;

·         Celebrate employee birthdays;

·         Offer flexible work schedules—support work-life balance;

·         Allow banked days / earned-days off;

·         Support job sharing;

·         Allow staff to work from home;

·         Begin casual dress days;

·         Offer an extra day off to work at a local charity of the employee’s choice;

·         Satisfy their hunger, organize a pizza day or pot-luck lunch;

·         Offer product discounts;

·         Provide free parking / subsidized parking;

·         Organize staff parties;

·         Give them a better job title;

·         Recognize staff achievements;

·         Offer formal and informal training;

·         Build a positive work culture by ensuring supervisors are properly trained and supported to manage staff;

·         Engage your employees—help them understand how they contribute to the organization as a whole and where the organization is headed—the vision.

 

Once you have lowered your staff turnover, you are going to need to replace the staff you have lost.

 

Be the first employer job seekers think of when they start their job search by becoming known for one or more of the following:

·         Providing training opportunities to staff;

·         Promoting from within – developing your current employees;

·         Offering a safe / healthy / positive working environment;

·         Having positive employee-supervisor relationships;

·         Recognizing employee contributions;

·         Supporting work-life balance;

·         Supporting the community;

·         Providing pay and benefits that are competitive in your industry;

·         Making the work personally rewarding for staff;

·         Providing job security.

 

You might also want to think about how inclusive your hiring practices and corporate culture are. You could be missing out on some great new hires. The Alberta government has developed a new online tool to help employers understand the advantages of an inclusive workplace at http://eae.alberta.ca/apps/fqr/fqr/course.

 

For more information and tips on attracting, developing and retaining staff, check out the Employer Tool Kit at http://employment.alberta.ca/etoolkit.

 

Good luck!

 

Do you have a work-related question? Send your questions to Working Wise, at charles.strachey@gov.ab.ca. Charles Strachey is a manager with Alberta Human Services. This column is provided for general information.

 

I manage an independent quick-service restaurant. Like most small business people, I wrestle with motivating and retaining good staff. Do you have any suggestions?

 

Dear Working Wise:

I manage an independent quick-service restaurant. Like most small business people, I wrestle with motivating and retaining good staff. Do you have any suggestions? Signed, Hungry for good people  

 

Dear Hungry:

You do not get a second chance to make a first good impression. Most new employees know this, but some employers are missing that perfect opportunity to train, motivate and retain their staff.

 

Providing your new staff with a comprehensive orientation will ensure they feel welcome and understand your business, products, services, values, policies and procedures. Your new people will be more likely to stay if they understand and like your business and workplace culture.

 

A good orientation will start your new people off right—giving them confidence in themselves and their employer. You can build on this strong foundation as your staff learn more about the business and how they can contribute.

 

Staff orientations should include a tour of their worksite, introductions to co-workers, and time for the new employee to ask questions and clarify expectations. You should ensure that all relevant staff (co-workers, supervisors, etc.) know when the new person is starting and that his/her workspace is prepared.

 

Be sure to let your new people know that you promote fair treatment and resolution of conflict. Let them know from the beginning that you have workplace policies regarding ethical practices and harassment.

 

Orientations can take as little as a few hours to as much as a few days. There can be a lot to cover—so be sure you’ve scheduled enough time.  

 

Check your current staff orientation process against the following checklists:

 

The organization—history, products, services, customers, mission, values, organizational policies and structure, expectations of staff, worksite tour, names of key people, introductions to key people, and questions.   

 

Employment information—pay schedule, pay scale and raise increments, benefits/bonuses, vacation pay and holidays, sick leave and absentee policy, employee training and promotion policy, employee development opportunities, disciplinary policy, and questions.

 

Job information—job location, job description, tasks, probationary period, introduction to the work unit, safety orientation, operating procedures, work standards, tools and equipment training/orientation, hours of work, scheduled breaks, who to ask for help, and questions.

 

Integration—help your new employee feel like they belong. Fostering positive work relationships and a sense of belonging are great ways of retaining workers. Employees who feel a strong social and emotional connection to the workplace are less likely to want to leave.

 

You can encourage stronger links among your employees by:

·         Introducing workers to the whole operation, not just their work unit;

·         Explaining how the work units serve and support each other;

·         Setting up a mentoring or buddy system;

·         Having regular staff meetings with time for employees to talk;

·         Holding staff social events;

·         Supporting employee clubs or recreational teams and community volunteerism;

·         Cross-training or creating cross-functional teams;

·         Providing new hires with information about community activities and resources; and

·         Encouraging and supporting staff participation in community events.

 

I’ve focused mostly on the importance of a solid employee orientation. If you would like some other ideas on how to reduce your staff turnover, check out the Beyond Pay and Benefits booklet on the Alberta Learning Information Services http://alis.alberta.ca.

 

Do you have a work-related question? Send your questions to Working Wise, at charles.strachey@gov.ab.ca. Charles Strachey is a manager with Alberta Human Services. This column is provided for general information.


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