Employers satisfied with workers with disabilities

Published: Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2013 12:12 p.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2013 12:26 p.m. CDT
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(Photo provided)
An NIU Rehabilitation Counseling student helps clients of Opportunity House at an Employment Group Workshop. In a recent survey of employers who have hired people through Opportunity House's employment programs, 100 percent of respondents said they were satisfied with the hires.

SYCAMORE – Every year, Opportunity House distributes surveys to local employers that have hired workers or volunteers from Opportunity House’s Vocational Services. This year, 100 percent of the employers who responded to the survey – including Walmart, Hy-Vee, Feed’em Soup and Culver’s – reported they were satisfied with Vocational Services’ supports, placements and programs.

The Vocational Service program helps clients referred by the Department of Rehabilitation or the Department of Human Services to explore jobs and careers and provides on-the-job assistance when needed. Before exploring job opportunities, clients are first evaluated on their skills and interests to determine the type of activity that would be the best fit for both employer and employee.

Once hired, a job coach from Vocational Services assists the new employee in the training process. Coaches stay and help the employee as long as they are needed.

To assure satisfaction with the employees and their work, job coaches remain available to both the worker and the employer after the placement.

One client recently celebrated 25 years at her job, and many others have surpassed the 10-year mark.

This year’s Vocational Services Employer Survey also evaluated the employee’s performance. Employers were asked to rate things such as the employee’s work quality, initiative and punctuality as “Exceeds Expectations,” “Meets Expectations,” “Needs Improvement” or “Needs Immediate Improvement.” Out of 266 total categories, 249 either met or exceeded expectations – to a 93.61 percent job performance satisfaction rate from employers.

Linda Kocjan, the program manager of Vocational Services, is proud and excited about this achievement. She has worked personally with her clients and as a job coach at a wide range of employers, including pig farms and Jumpy Jumpers Party Rentals. Opportunity House also partners with the Northern Illinois University Rehabilitation Counseling Graduate Program to provide an Employment Success Group Workshop for the vocational clients each spring semester.

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