Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Three Wishes

Adaptions. Considerations. Respect.

These things, to me, are the hallmarks of a good employer. Every single employee needs adaptions ... that's cause they all come with various strengths and inevitable weaknesses. All workers need consideration ... that's cause they all come from the real world with real relationships. All who draw a paycheck need respect ... that's because no job is just about the money. We, each of us, want to feel that we are valued as both an employee and a person. Simply put, it matters that we matter.

For that reason I'm going to give a 'shout out' to Vita Community Living Services today. I have been accused in the past about 'promoting' Vita too much on this blog. Maybe I do, but I think its natural for a writer who writes about his life to, um, write about his life. And as so much 'life' is lived at work, how can that not be grist for the mill. Criticism aside, I'm writing this not to promote Vita but to demonstrate what flexible employment looks like. It's not so hard a thing to understand but it seems to boggle the minds of those who only think from 9 to 5.

A few days ago I was approached at work and it was explained to me that the elevator at the office needs to be replaced. In fact, it has to be ripped out and then a new one brought in and installed. Yikes. As my office is up a flight of stairs, the elevator for me is mandatory. Here's what was done:

1) Vita's head office is closed between Christmas and New Years. Work still happens, of course, but through alternate means. So they've arranged that the bulk of the work be done when I wouldn't be in the office anyways.

2) I was given enough notice so that I could schedule the three days that I was planning to be in differently such that I was either able to work at home or have meetings elsewhere.

3) My home computer and the work computer can talk to each other so that I can log on at home to the computer at work. I can respond as if I'm actually sitting there on the second floor.

So, though I won't be at work, physically, my presence will still be there. It's only three days so the disruption is minimal.

What was noteworthy was the fact that my needs as an employee was considered in the decision making, scheduling was done to minimize the impact on my work life as an employee, my value to the organization was communicated to me by the process followed.

Everyone wins here. I feel valued by the organization so my loyalty increases. The organization benefits because my commitment to it and its values becomes firmer. It's a relationship of mutual benefit that comes from mutual respect. An easy equation. I wonder how many organizations would benefit from just a wee drop off what we all need.

Adaptions. Considerations. Respect.


Jan said...

Dave please continue to talk about Vita because so many Human Services organizations do not get it and it is wonderful to hear about one that does. As a board member for a family directed service I use your comments as somewhat of a measure of what we are doing and how. Your place of employment shows all of us that the HUMAN can stay in human services and still be viable. Thank you

Anonymous said...

I agree with Jan, if I lived in Toronto you'd have my resume so quickly that you'd have whiplash. I'm signing this anon because I don't want my boss knowing what I said. She reads your blog. She just doesn't understand it.

jypsy said...

Can I plug my son's employer who also suffers the same hallmarks of "Adaptions. Considerations. Respect." ? (I'm about to anyway....) Em gave Alex a job at the Great Canadian Soap Company in May. In November it got even better when she hosted a 5K & 10K race, a benefit for the local Food Bank, at the shop for Alex and all his fellow RoadRunners. The Great Canadian Goat Race was a smashing success and, as someone put it "Give autistics opportunities, extraordinary & wildly successful events ensue". It doesn't get any better than that!

Top of the Season to you & Joe and all your readers.

Manuela said...

Dave, thank-you for sharing those thoughts about Vita. I need to give credit where credit is due and am rather thrilled that it wasnt me that said, now remember do that work so it does not affect Dave or our members too much. Our property manager arranged all the scheduling and communication without a word of direction from me. He decided, the extra cost of work over the holidays was worth it and figured it out. I learned about it when you did. That actually excites me. One kind of expects our values put in place by those that work daily with the individuals we support, but when you see it demonstrated by our property manager and financial controllor without second thought that thrills me. Neat, Huh! And thanks for todays blog, reminds me I need to add this to my thank-you list for both of them.

Dave Hingsburger said...

Manuela, that is so cool. I didn't know that, now that I do, I'll make sure to send them a note. You're right - this makes the whole thing even better!

Ellen said...


And I don't think you plug Vita too much.


Lene Andersen said...

I used to work in the human rights field and was involved in helping employees get the accommodation they needed, which included talking to managers about exactly what you describe in this post. Sure, accommodation is legally mandated, but making it into something meaningful requires thinking outside the box, approaching work differently. It's wonderful that Vita is a leader in the field. I hope you post will ripple on the Internet, reaching people/managers/organizations who never thought of this before.

As an aside, I really miss the employment equity law.

Moose said...

I read this and it left me with such a mix of feelings.

On the one hand, there is joy that a company can actually "get it" and not deal with accessibility issues as a chore and a burden. There is happiness that this company values you (and possibly others) enough to take your needs into consideration.

And on the other hand, there is, selfish feelings: Jealousy, anger, depression. Remembering going for a job interview and struggling with stairs and other barriers, only to have the interviewer, on crutches (temporarily, for a broken bone) look down on me for being unable to navigate the paths. Having people explain to me that I'm not *really* disabled, I'm just fat ("If you just lost weight, you know you'd be more mobile!") A boss explaining that he "didn't know how to handle someone as disabled as you." Complaining to HR, only to be laughed at and told, "That's just him being honest with you." And after being fired, told by lawyers that I had no case because I was on probation in at at-will state.

For every one company that gets it right, I think there are a hundred or more that don't get it at all. In the USA the American with Disabilities Act" is often seen as a burden on businesses, not a way to help open doors.

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