Skilled, committed, and valued employees are tough to find and keep. Individuals with disabilities are an undervalued resource of dedicated and successful colleagues. Transitions to Work is a high-quality supported employment program for young adults with disabilities and aims to create transformative culture change to engage the business community to employ individuals with disabilities. Somerville companies including bfresh, LEGOLAND® Discovery Center, and Target have hired Transitions to Work participants.
LEGOLAND® Discovery Center general manager David Gilmore deeply believes in hiring individuals of all abilities. LEGOLAND® partners with three supported employment organizations, including Transitions to Work. LEGOLAND® has hired five staff members through these programs, including Ben Nolan, a Transitions to Work participant. David is proud that his team comes together to support each other: “Working with Transitions to Work and other organizations makes us feel good as a company but is even better because our employee can be happy having a job and doing what they do best. We treat these hires like every other employee.”
Joe Botsch, operations manager, explains he has learned a lot managing all of his staff, including Ben. “Learning about the best use of someone’s skill set can require different methods of communication,” he said. “Every employee has different learning styles and it has been great for the whole team to learn the value of effective communication.” Joe was eager to convey that Ben recently won the company video-game challenge at their spring outing.
Ben works in the LEGOLAND® “neighborhood” organizing Lego bricks, helping with mosaics and assisting with other organizational tasks. Ben shared his perspectives on working at LEGOLAND®.
What’s your favorite thing about working at LEGOLAND®?
“I like to socialize with people, especially kids. I feel comfortable with who I work with, even though some people leave the job for personal reasons. I am strong at keeping everything clean. If there’s anything in need that I can help with I always stick around and help and do everything in my power that I can do.”
What have you learned from working at LEGOLAND®?
“I’ve learned to always stay patient, and to always have a smile on your face. Even if you have a bad day or have something in mind. And never feel nervous, in that you’re not alone.”
What’s one of your favorite memories from working at LEGOLAND®?
“The time we went bowling, that was the best time. The real reason I like working and celebrating with you guys is because I feel like I have more friends in my life that I want to be around. Before I started working here and I graduated school I just wanted to meet new people and feel comfortable with what I do.”
What would you say to anyone looking for a similar opportunity?
“Have patience with customers, especially kids. You know, it’s a whole big part of the job, anyway.”
Transitions to Work employer partners hire graduates and people of all abilities because it is good for business. Benefits to a company with inclusive hiring practices include:
- Higher productivity: Employees with disabilities typically exhibit higher loyalty, lower turnover, and contribute to the collegiality of the workplace.
- Increased market share: Individuals with disabilities and their families reflect an expanding customer base and are loyal patrons of companies that support inclusive hiring.
- Expanded talent pool: Individuals with disabilities are an underused pool of talented, skilled, and qualified applicants. The unemployment rate for individuals with disabilities is roughly twice as high as the general population.
- Public relations: Inclusive hiring positively impacts a company’s image.
- Diversity and morale: All employees report a higher degree of workplace satisfaction when working in integrated teams.
Transitions to Work continues to connect with new employers to educate staff and management on inclusive hiring and build employer partnerships. Please let us know if you or someone you know might be interested in learning more about inclusive hiring or Transitions to Work.
Please visit Transitions to Work on Facebook or at cjp.org/transitionstowork. Transitions to Work is a collaboration among Combined Jewish Philanthropies, Jewish Vocational Service, and the Ruderman Family Foundation. Funding is provided by the Ruderman Family Foundation, Boston Public Schools, The Shapiro Family Foundation, The Liberty Mutual Foundation, and a grant through The Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development.
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