In the BRN newsletter, we tell the stories of local businesses that employ people with disabilities, the accommodations they provide, and the contributions those employees make. Read about our most recent featured businesses here.
There are 18,000 employees across the Avera system. Some of the benefits they see in employing people with disabilities include making a difference in the communities where they are located and sharing knowledge about others with disabilities to better serve that population.
Avera has worked with other agencies to promote the success of their employees with disabilities. New employees have had job coaches who assist with on-the-job training during their orientation period. The Division of Rehabilitation Services has given guidance to job providers who are assisting their clients through the application process as well.
Currently, Avera has numerous positions they are trying to fill. The positions fall under categories such as: Clerical/Administrative, Nursing Professionals RN/LPN, Nursing Support, Support Services, and Technical/Professional. Positions are listed on their on-line site at www.avera.org/careers/ and are kept up to date.
Applicants can apply on-line as well as completing a paper application. Avera highly recommends applicants apply on-line as it will save all the information they have submitted on their application. In addition, the on-line application allows Avera to be more interactive with the applicant during the interview and hiring process.
If job applicants with disabilities need assistance filling out an application, they can go to the Talent Acquisition Office, 1000 East 41st Street, where there are computers to utilize. Staff there can assist with the process.
Kaleb Kauffman is one employee at Avera who happens to have a disability. He is a Cafeteria Attendant and started working at Avera in 2015. He works 40 hours a week. When asked what he likes most about his job, Kaleb replied, “I just like helping patients and guests in the cafeteria- and keeping things clean and ready to go for them. I know people want to see clean, germ-free facilities and have fresh food, so I try to provide that. I like to help people- putting smiles on their faces and making them feel right at home. If I don’t know an answer, I will get someone who can help.”
Savers has 61 employees in Operations, the Community Donation Center, and Production. There are five employees with disabilities including Asperger's Syndrome, learning disabilities and developmental disabilities. They work in all departments.
Reasonable accommodations that have been provided to employees with disabilities include shorter shifts, more frequent but shorter breaks, and cool down moments. When a person is not as comfortable working in the eye of the public, they work more in the back. Savers also changed how their registers are entered in order to accommodate employees who use wheelchairs.
Travis Pound, Retail Sales Manager, states, "We treat all candidates as equals. If they are willing to learn and would be a good fit for the position and team, we are more than happy to bring them on board." Savers has worked with the Division of Rehabilitation Services and Lutheran Social Services to find team members. Previously, a group of LifeScape volunteers came in weekly to learn job skills with their job coaches in their production room.
Travis says, "We are always looking for people to join our team. Even if every position is filled, we would still love to sit down and at least talk to people who are interested." All of the management team at Savers is responsible for hiring employees. If you are interested in joining their team, stop in for a walk-in interview. From there, you can fill out a paper or on-line application, whatever is easier for the job seeker.
In the picture below, Savers received a Disability Friendly Recognition Program award from Business Resource Network and the Sioux Falls Disability Awareness Commission in April.
Camille's Sidewalk Cafe employs 20-24 employees depending on part-time or full-time hours. Currently six employees have disabilities, which include Down Syndrome, traumatic brain injury, and cognitive disabilities.
People with disabilities fill positions of food preparation, order fulfillment, dining room attendant and dish washing. Reasonable accommodations that have been provided include flexible work schedules, written instructions including photos with captions, having job coaches come in when a new employee starts, and simplifying instructions when needed. Special equipment has never been purchased.
Camille's started employing people with disabilities in 2003 before they opened. An employee from Southeastern Behavioral brought in one of their clients for an interview. "At that time we asked ourselves, 'Why wouldn't we hire people with disabilities?' and couldn't come up with a reason. So we've employed people with disabilities since our opening on September 9, 2003," states co-owner Jennifer Erickson.
Jennifer adds, "The main reason we hire people with disabilities is because they are really good workers. They have the best longevity and attendance of all our employees. They bring an enthusiasm and pride in their work that we don't see often. We believe that everyone has strengths and weaknesses and we work to match the job we need done to the skills of the employee."
Camille's has worked with agencies such as Southeastern Behavioral Health, Sioux Fall School District Community Campus, and Vocational Rehabilitation to find skilled workers when they have openings. When an employee is hired, a job coach usually helps them for a week, if needed, to learn the position.
Stephanie O'Neal is the Restaurant Manager at Camille's. Even though there aren't any current job openings, people typically fill out a paper application and return it through email, fax or drop it off in person. If a person needs assistance filling out an application, they can come into the cafe during a slower time of day (3:00-5:00 PM) and someone can help.
Stephanie states, "Employing people with disabilities gives them a chance to work and use their abilities. They are reliable, full of smiles and great with customers."
Camille's Sidewalk Cafe was the first business to receive a Disability Friendly Recognition Program award from Business Resource Network in partnership with the Sioux Falls Disability Awareness Commission on December 11, 2013.
Five Star Call Centers first started employing people with disabilities in 1986. They found call center positions were often a perfect fit for people with disabilities. They have had hundreds of team members with a variety of disabilities who have found great careers at Five Star because mobility, strength and physical stamina are not required for their positions.
Currently Five Star Call Centers has 300 employees in Sioux Falls and 550 nationwide. In addition, they hire over 300 agents for the fourth quarter holiday season in Sioux Falls and 700 nationwide. There are approximately 25 employees with disabilities in Sioux Falls and 45 nationwide. There are team members with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), Multiple Sclerosis (MS), Parkinson's Disease and Epilepsy that cause limited mobility resulting in the use of wheelchairs, walkers and canes. They also have team members with diminished strength and vision loss. Employees with disabilities work in order entry, customer service, technical support and sales positions. Accommodations provided include flexible work schedules, frequent breaks, customized training, special equipment including ergonomic work stations, larger monitors and special computer software for those with vision loss. Their Sioux Falls facility is all on one level with a large entry and private restrooms.
Joel Sylvester, Chief Marketing Officer, states, "We find team members with disabilities have amazing personalities, spirit and passion who love to do their job every day and help customers over the phone. Problem solving is a part of their everyday life and translates into being a great team member." Five Star has worked with state agencies such as Vocational Rehabilitation and Service to the Blind and Visually Impaired as well as Community Campus to find employees.
Five Star Call Centers HR Generalist, Danielle Sickinger, is responsible for pre-screening all applicants. Specific hiring decisions are made by Custom Success Managers whose roles range from general customer service to technical support and medical and financial services, so team members can be placed in the best position to succeed based on their skills and experience.
"Employing people with disabilities has always been a part of our company culture, from the beginning over eight years ago," states Melissa Johnson, CEO at Oh My Cupcakes! They employ 28-30 people depending on the season, and three or four employees have disabilities. Melissa and
Amanda Feldkamp, Director of Operations, are responsible for hiring employees. They look for both a schedule fit and a culture fit.
One employee has a short-term memory problem as a result of a traumatic brain injury, while others have language barriers, mobility issues and mild learning disabilities. "People with disabilities are great for the jobs that everyone is willing to do, but some of the more skilled ninjas (like our kitchen manager, for instance) may not have time to do. These include our never-ending dishes, sweeping, folding boxes, putting stickers on containers, etc." says Melissa.
When their team member with short-term memory issues started, they made a diagram of the kitchen with reminders of where each dish/piece of equipment gets put away as an accommodation. Another accommodation includes providing extra instruction to employees when needed.
Over the years, Oh My Cupcakes! has worked with Lutheran Social Services, LifeScape and the Sioux Falls School District to fill open positions. "The coaching they provide is crucial and so appreciated as an employer," states Melissa. When asked what the benefits are of employing people with disabilities, Melissa says, "In addition to being a vital part of all that we need to get done in the course of a day, the smiles and warm attitudes are one of the greatest benefits!"
Oh My Cupcakes! is always on the lookout for great people! There is an application on their website that can be printed, filled out, and brought in or mailed in. If you have specific questions, please reach out to them for assistance.
Tom and Ann Olson started Stellar Limousine in April of 2008. They currently have 25 employees. One employee has an intellectual disability and another employee has a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).
The employees with disabilities perform warehouse and office duties including vacuuming the red carpets, filling bags with ice and putting them into the freezer, and cleaning the bathroom, rims of tires, cab areas, and outside in front of the building. Some of the workplace accommodations Stellar Limousine has provided to their employees include being flexible in their their work schedules, allowing breaks when needed without having to ask permission and working off of visual charts.
In 2010, a job developer with South Dakota Achieve, now known as LifeScape, came to Tom and Ann's door asking if they would consider hiring someone with a disability. They said yes! Both of their current employees with disabilities work with LifeScape. When Ann was asked what she sees as the benefits of hiring people with disabilities, she states, "Their willingness to help, the pride they take in their work and having the opportunity to help them learn a vocation."
Thank you Stellar Limousine for employing people with disabilities!