After completing a tour of a Goodwill facility near our corporate headquarters, we recognized there was an opportunity to partner with the organization to employ persons with disabilities.
Originally, our goal was to do something meaningful by employing people who may have otherwise had difficulty finding work. We partnered with Goodwill and initially matched three people with various mental and emotional challenges to assist with our office service needs. Goodwill’s program even provided a job coach to coach and mentor these employees on a daily basis.
The initial program Goodwill created times these employees on the tasks assigned to them and recommends an hourly wage based on how the employees performed when compared to an able bodied person. If they were 50% slower, they received 50% of the hourly rate. If they were 40% slower they received 60% of the hourly rate. While they were originally paid only a partial wage for the work they completed under these guidelines, they are now paid a full hourly wage for all of the work they do.
These employees are fully contributing members of our staff. They scan files, fold certificates of insurance, stuff envelopes, keep the kitchens stocked, and work on special projects throughout the year.
At our corporate headquarters, these team members have been employed for over 6 years. We’ve also hired employees at other locations with different challenges on both a temporary and permanent basis. We are also actively looking for opportunities in other offices to expand this program.
The most immediate result of this program was the atmosphere in our office. These employees are always happy to be at work. They come in with a smile and that rubs off on all of us. Our staff is grateful for the series of small tasks performed by these employees but having the copiers always filled with paper, having the coffee stocked, having a team to take on small meticulous but tedious tasks like removing staples from paper files that needed to be scanned in order to be preserved has improved the quality of work/life balance for Alliant employees and provided opportunities for many. We feel very fortunate to have this team working for us and benefit from their influence every day.
It has been rewarding watching them grow over the years. These team members have greater independence than ever before. They are also more communicative. Originally shy and quiet they love to talk about sports, fashion and cars. This has been a win-win all around.