One thing about life is that nothing is free.
All of us have to make our own way somehow, and that means that we have to get a job, so we can pay our bills and survive in the modern world.
This is true for everyone, even those with special needs.
In the United States, just because you have autism or down syndrome doesn’t mean that you cannot be a functional member of society. Thankfully, many employers are recognizing that when a person has some trouble performing certain tasks, it doesn’t mean he or she cannot be a hard or dedicated worker. In fact, in many cases, employees with special needs work even harder than their co-workers, because they know that they have to put in the extra effort.
Simply put, being at a disadvantage puts employees in a better situation to see what they are capable of doing.
The Home Depot: An Industry Leader
Today, we are going to salute one employer that has done a lot to bring special needs people into the workforce. For the last couple of decades, The Home Depot has been committed to hiring these people and is, in fact, an industry leader in that regard.
With only about 20 percent of disabled adults working in the United States and an unemployment rate of about 14 percent, it’s more important than ever that businesses and corporations see the value of hiring those with special needs. Thankfully, The Home Depot has already taken great strides to show what can happen.
Just take a look at one program in particular called Ken’s Krew.
This program started back in 1997.
Ken’s Krew was originally designed by parents of special needs kids. These kids were going to graduate high school and needed a direct path towards employment. At the time, not as many businesses were open to hiring such employees.
The Home Depot stepped in and recognized the potential of such a program and adopted it with enthusiasm. Today, Ken’s Krew operates in 103 stores nationwide.
This program has helped hundreds of high school students get a job and enter the workforce.
The great thing about this system is that even though many of the workers may not stay on for a career, the experience is invaluable. Ken’s Krew and The Home Depot show people with disabilities that they can be a productive member of any company. In fact, one could even argue that the confidence that comes from working at The Home Depot is far more valuable than the wages, but earning money is a major factor towards developing independence.
As far as this program in particular, the way it works is that new workers receive extra training after hours to help them acclimate to The Home Depot’s working environment. Managers and supervisors usually do this by creating games that help teach operational procedures as well as targeting skills that will help the workers succeed.
The best thing about the program is that it is a one-on-one system. This means that each person gets individual attention rather than having to participate in a classroom-type setting. Not only does this singular attention help improve everyone’s skills much faster, but it can also help to cultivate stronger bonds between co-workers. That’s because Ken’s Krew uses current employees of The Home Depot to train the new hires rather than bringing other people in from other stores.
The results are remarkable
What’s even more amazing is that the impact is not just on the employees with special needs, but those who train them as well. Working and interacting closely with each other means that each person becomes invested in far more than a working relationship. This is particularly important for special needs people as they can sometimes struggle to make friends and meet new people.
Ready, Willing, and Able
Up in Canada, the Home Depot recently joined the government-sponsored program called Ready, Willing and Able. This program helps those with special needs, especially those with autism, get jobs and find employment in a variety of fields.
Although the company already had a proactive plan in place for hiring disabled employees, this partnership makes it even easier for people with special needs to access employment opportunities that would otherwise be unavailable to them.
On top of working with Ready, Willing, and Able, The Home Depot is also in the process of updating all of their Canadian stores to be more inclusive to both employees and customers with disabilities.
The Home Depot stores are building ramps and accessible features that allow those people to move more freely throughout the stores. It is the latest move by The Home Depot in a long line of programs aimed at making it easier to be inclusive to those with disabilities.
Special Needs = Special Value
As these programs show, there is an innate benefit to hiring people with disabilities.
Not only will the company get a great worker in the process, but it can help to cultivate a more tight-knit workplace where co-workers are invested in each other and help each other succeed.
This value cannot be underestimated.
We are glad that companies like The Home Depot recognize how people with special needs or disabilities need to fit in with ordinary aspects of society. We applaud The Home Depot for nourishing the lives of special needs people on a regular basis.