The Employer Assistance and Resource Network (EARN) monthly newsletter has a new feature called Spotlight. In this section, EARN recognizes employers’ successful practices for outreach, recruitment, hiring, and accommodating workers with disabilities. EARN invites employers who would like to highlight their effective practices in employing people with disabilities to submit articles for future issues of the EARN newsletter. This month, EARN spotlights Aetna, Inc. for demonstrating its commitment to a diverse and talented employee base by implementing a work break flexibility policy that helps employees with disabilities meet job performance standards.
WORK BREAK FLEXIBILITY A WIN-WIN FOR AETNA
For the thousands of Aetna employees who deliver telephonic customer service to members and providers, the company’s values mean striving to address questions and concerns quickly and efficiently. To that end, Aetna customer service representatives must meet performance metrics around the quality and efficiency of their work. However, some employees may have disabilities that could affect their ability to meet certain job performance standards.
To assist its employees in meeting these standards, Aetna has implemented a variety of accommodations for employees with disabilities arising from a range of different medical conditions. One of the most common accommodations is work break flexibility, which is a simple, low-to-no-cost example of how to help and retain employees affected at work by a disability.
What does work break flexibility mean? In most situations, this flexibility simply means modifying the frequency and duration of paid work break periods. Each employee’s case is unique, so each schedule is customized to the individual employee’s needs. Only one week after implementation of a flexible break schedule, one employee reported that his performance improved 15-20%. This type of accommodation costs only the time it takes to arrange it, and is yet one more example of a workplace accommodation that costs less than $500. It is a win-win for employees and corporations alike.
Senator Harkin (D-IA) is a long-time advocate of the employment of people with disabilities. In this brief video, he interviews an intern with autism and reveals insights on the highlights and hurdles faced by employers and employees in hiring people with disabilities. Click here to watch the video.
SUPPORTING OUR HEROES
Hiring discrimination against veterans with disabilities, especially women veterans, is unacceptable said Patricia Shiu, director of the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) at a town hall meeting July 31 held at Rutgers University. The event aimed to connect women veterans looking for work with federal contractors committed to hiring veterans. Attendees celebrated the successes of women veterans and focused on efforts that still need to be made in achieving equality for them in the workplace. Click here to view the slideshow.
VA USES ONLINE CAREER CENTER TO BOOST VETERAN EMPLOYMENT
The Department of Veterans Affairs has developed an online career center to help translate military experience to civilian work. The online career center helps veterans produce usable resumes and keeps an individual veteran’s employment records in one place. Click here to read more.
2012 USBLN® 15th ANNUAL CONFERENCE & EXPO, OCTOBER 1-4
The US Business Leadership Network® (USBLN®) will hold its 15th Annual Conference & Expo October 1-4 in Orlando, FL. The conference, entitled “Disability Inclusion Driving Success in a Competitive Business Environment,” will provide the best and brightest in disability inclusion with high-profile keynote speakers, over 40 cutting-edge educational sessions, plus exciting interactive programming. Over 600 professionals from across the country are expected to attend, including representatives from Corporate America, Business Leadership Networks, Disability-Owned Business Enterprises, and non-profit, state, and federal agencies. Click here for more information.
LONDON 2012: BLIND ARCHER SETS OLYMPIC WORLD RECORDS
South Korean archer Im Dong-hyun sees only blurred colors and lines when he aims for his target from a distance of nearly 230 feet away. But that didn’t stop the legally blind Olympian from scoring a record 699 points in the Olympic Games in London. Im says he “feels” each shot with his body, and has developed muscles that are very sensitive to the kind of consistency he needs to hit his target. Click here to read more.
*In July 2012, the employment rate of people 16-64 years of age was 26.9% for persons with disabilities compared with 70.9% for persons without a disability. The gap between the employment rate of persons of 16-64 years of age with and without disabilities was 44.0%, not seasonally adjusted.
UNDERSTANDING ACCOMMODATIONS: EASIER THAN YOU MIGHT THINK
As the Baby Boomer generation approaches retirement and a significant skills gap becomes more evident, many businesses are facing talent shortages and an aging workforce. Retaining staff and providing accommodations are not new concepts, although many businesses lack experience in inclusive workplace practices. To help determine effective accommodations, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), recommends that employers use an “interactive process,” which simply means that employers and employees with disabilities who request accommodations work together. Click here to read more.
FEAR A BARRIER TO HIRING PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES
Fear is one of the biggest barriers to the federal government in hiring more people with disabilities. That fear comes from managers not knowing how a person with disabilities can do his or her job — even if they are qualified, said Kathleen Martinez, assistant secretary of Labor for the Office of Disability Employment Policy. “What happens when you hire a person with disabilities is you see how we do our jobs and then the mystery is over and we’re not special anymore. We become a part of the fabric of the work culture,” said Martinez, who is blind. Hiring tools like eFedLink and the Workforce Recruitment Program (WRP) can help employers find qualified people with disabilities. Click here to read more.
NATIONAL DISABILITY AWARENESS MONTH TOOLKIT NOW AVAILABLE
October is National Disability Employment Awareness (NDEAM) month. The theme for 2012 is “A Strong Workforce is an Inclusive Workforce: What Can YOU Do?” NDEAM is a national campaign that raises awareness about disability employment issues and celebrates the many and varied contributions of America’s workers with disabilities. The Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) provides a variety of NDEAM resources including a toolkit and posters in English and Spanish, available here.
EARN OFFERING FALL WEBINARS – SAVE THE DATES!
The Employer Assistance and Resource Network is offering several free webinars in September and October:
• On September 27, EARN will present “The Interplay between ADA and FMLA” at 2:00 PM (EST). HRCI credits will be offered for participants. Click here to register.
• In October, EARN will host a series of 30-minute webinars each Thursday at 2:00 PM in celebration of National Disability Employment Awareness Month. Webinar topics will be announced next month. Click here for more information.
CENSUS BUREAU REPORT: NEARLY 1 IN 5 PEOPLE HAVE A DISABILITY
About 56.7 million people–19 percent of the population–had a disability in 2010, according to a comprehensive report on this population released in July by the U.S. Census Bureau. The report, “Americans with Disabilities: 2010,” released to coincide with the 22nd anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), shows that the total number of people with a disability increased by 2.2 million over the period, but the percentage remained statistically unchanged. Click here to read the report.
COMPANIES FIND FRUITFUL RESULTS WHEN HIRING INDIVIDUALS WITH AUTISM
When Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association and College Retirement Equities Fund purchased a massive apple orchard in Washington State as part of its investment portfolio, the company decided to focus on hiring employees with autism to find reliable workers. Although some organizations have shied from employing people with autism, a handful of companies like TIAA-CREF and Walgreen’s have embraced the idea. Click here to read more.
OPM RELEASES REPORT ON THE EMPLOYMENT OF INDIVIDUALS WITH DISABILITIES
The Office of Personnel Management released a report on the employment of individuals with disabilities in the federal executive branch. The report discusses the progress of federal agencies related to President Obama’s Executive Order 13548 on increasing federal employment of individuals with disabilities. Click here to read the report.
EARN is funded by the
U.S. Department of Labor Office of Disability Employment Policy