This text was first published on Orientaction.ca.
We have heard a lot about the labor shortage in recent years and we are likely to hear a lot more. We often hear about the negative consequences for companies (e.g., reorganization efforts, growth limitations, closures, etc.) and employees (e.g., increased workloads).
For job seekers, on the other hand, the picture seems brighter – the market is on their side. Some will seize the opportunity to advance, negotiate benefits, and possibly even get a salary increase and so on. However, for those with integration support needs, there could be a reversal to the abundance of available jobs; for, in the next few years, landing a job easily because of the urgency could result in seekers and employers without access to the support that contributes to sustainable job integration, resulting in failure, or worse, repeated failure.
For example, Peter has a job interview. For several years, he’s been preparing to enter the labor market. He’s well-trained and passionate about the job he’s studying. He’s anticipated the moment: Peter has a borderline personality disorder. He gets anxious easily. On the job, he needs a schedule that would allow him to step back occasionally to manage his anxiety. It could also result in less productive periods compared to others. But, he knows nothing about his condition, because of the speed at which everything happens. The employer selected him when he was still in school. Peter tells him about his condition. Likewise, the employer recruited only one candidate for the position. Peter is qualified. He also doesn’t know about the needs of a person living with a mental health problem, but he has heard a lot of awareness messages about hiring people with disabilities. He hires Peter and tells him that he must hit the road running and make time!
Six months later, Peter is fired. Peter will start over the process over and over because he always gets the job he wants…but he cannot keep it. The employer vows that he will never hire anyone with a mental health problem again if he has prior knowledge. He’s had it with awareness campaigns!
While employers have benefited from awareness-raising about hiring people considered excluded from the job market (e.g., due to a disability), the fact remains that job retention is critical. With labor shortages, sustainable employment is as important a challenge as hiring.
In Peter’s case, he was not ready to work. And the employer was not ready to accept him. The lack of information unfortunately prevented what could have been a lasting and fruitful collaboration. Peter landing the job too easily and the employer’s lack of patience prevented them from obtaining information they needed beforehand.
It’s important to continue to raise awareness among employers and job seekers about sustainable employment integration and to promote the services and support available, because the consequences can be significant both from a financial and human point of view.
After failing for a few years, Peter heard about an employment support service near his home. Armed with lots of courage and a customized toolkit for his situation; plus, a coach to help the employer customize the position, he managed to overcome his sense of failure to try again and find a job, completely invested in it. And guess who welcomed him? His very first employer, who really appreciated the quality of his work, but felt helpless in terms of time and energy to overcome Peter’s limitations. The coach eliminated the barriers. If it had not been for the coach, the employer would not have changed his mind. Peter was finally home.
A collaboration of Caroline Pouliot, Communications Coordinator, SPHERE.
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