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Office of Disability Employment Policy

ODEP - Office of Disability Employment Policy

Integrated Employment Toolkit

Employers in the State of Washington Find Help in Unexpected Places

Integrated Employment - Shared Advantages

Employers have many options when they want to find reliable employees who make contributions to their enterprises. One option that has worked for many State of Washington employers is partnering with employment service agencies that represent individuals with disabilities. Among them are Costco in Gig Harbor, Miller Sheetmetal in Bremerton, and Seattle Children's Hospital.

Costco Gig Harbor expects all of its employees to maintain a high level of productivity. Wayne Harris, the warehouse manager, says his area benefits from finding employees who can fit niches. He worked with an employment service agency to identify how it could take elements from certain jobs and blend them together into a new position that was filled by an individual with developmental disabilities who was capable of doing all the job elements. The result was another productive employee for the business.

Miller Sheetmetal hired an individual with autism who performs several tasks through the use of a very straightforward accommodation. As a cue to begin each task, such as clearing metal shavings from machines, he refers to a picture of the task. With that simple cue, the quality and quantity of his work are right on target. According to owner and president, Chris Miller, with so many competitors his company must be profitable to maintain an advantage. This employee saves the company thousands of dollars each year by minimizing waste and keeping the machines running.

Seattle Childrens Hospital has found value in working with employment service agencies that represent job seekers with disabilities. Debra Gumbardo, Director of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine, emphasizes that there must be a good fit between the job tasks and the skills of the employee. Thus, having the expertise of an agency's support coach has been an important benefit to her department. One support coach organized a visual cue that helped an employee with developmental disabilities perform her tasks. This has helped all employees see the right way to do the task.

Like these companies, employers in any state can find good employees by connecting to community employment agencies with similar purposes as those in the three examples. They are illustrations of the business value of hiring the right people, whether or not they have disabilities. As with all hires, companies prosper when job candidate skills and interests at are effectively matched to company need.

Washington Initiative on Supported Employment has produced a video which feature these and other employers. The Employer View of the Business Value of Hiring People with Developmental Disabilities contains first person accounts of how employers have benefited from a long standing initiative in Washington to promote employment for people with disabilities.