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Businesses have success hiring people with disabilities

Published: Monday, Nov. 18, 2013 10:03 a.m. CDT

Aaron Mateer spends his time at his job at Hy-Vee in Osceola.

Mateer has worked at the store for five years helping to stock shelves, take groceries to customer’s cars and unload trucks. Aaron is proof that individuals with disabilities can be a valuable asset to an employer.

When asked what he likes most about his job, Mateer said, “I love working with the customers and helping to make their day by being positive and greeting them by name.”

He said he also appreciates the paycheck he receives from Hy-Vee, and is saving his money to go on a guided trip to Santa Monica, Calif., next year.

“Aaron is very dependable,” said Bea Cisler, the store director at the Osceola Hy-Vee  “He is always at work on time and works hard when he is here.  He is always friendly with customers and knows many of them by name.”

Business leaders in the 21st century are aware a shortage of qualified workers is becoming a reality.

In order to prevent this workforce crisis, an increasing number of employers are turning to nontraditional sources of labor.

Among those labor sources are people with disabilities, the fastest growing segment and most widely overlooked employable minority of our population. Companies such as McDonalds, Walgreens, PepsiCo., Aon and UPS recognize employing people with disabilities is good for their bottom line and studies show a solid business case for inclusion.

Some of the benefits of hiring people with disabilities include:

• Researchers have found that employers report hiring employees with disabilities contributes to improved morale and productivity throughout the company.

• Polls show 92 percent of consumers reflect favorably on businesses known to hire people with disabilities, and 87 percent prefer to do business with these same companies.

• In certain cases, employees with disabilities carry Medicare/Medicaid and do not require employer-sponsored health insurance.

• Research consistently shows employers report equal or better safety records, turnover and absentee rates, job performance ratings, job assignment flexibility and equal amount of supervision required for employees with disabilities as compared to their nondisabled peers.

In order to help prepare individuals with intellectual disabilities for employment, Mosaic provides training at their workshop as well as South Central Iowa Redemption Center and Expressions Gift and Coffee Shop. Individuals learn such things as the importance of being at work on time and how to interact with customers.

Expressions Gift and Coffee Shop has been open since October 2011. There are 20-30 individuals who have opportunities to gain community connections through the coffee shop and to learn job readiness skills.

Some of the jobs that individuals do are baking cookies and other items for the coffee shop, pricing gift items, cleaning, grind and package Mosaic’s private label Tessera coffee. Other individuals work in the workshop and at South Central Iowa Recycling, both of which are housed in the same building as the coffee shop.

Mosaic Gift and Coffee Shop is open from 7:30 am to 2 p.m. weekdays and from 8 a.m. to noon Saturday. The shop will also be open from 5 to 8 p.m. Nov. 5 for Holiday Brilliance.

If you are an employer who is interested in finding how you can partner with Mosaic to provide employment for an individual with an intellectual or developmental disability, contact Mosaic at 641-342-6015.

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