Success Story: Customizing Work Yields Benefits

In 2017 the City of Ottawa and LiveWorkPlay partnered for an inclusive employment opportunity, a part-time position with the Municipal Elections Office. Ahmad is now a hard-working member of the team. Thanks to the partnership, any barriers associated with his intellectual disability have been addressed, and he is flourishing in his new role.

The following story was submitted by Tyler Cox, Manager, Legislative Services at the City of Ottawa.

On June 6, 2017, I had the pleasure of attending the fifth annual conference put on by the Employment Accessibility Resource Network (“EARN”).

It was there that I was first introduced to LiveWorkPlay, through panel discussions involving employers, employees with disabilities, and Jen Soucy from LiveWorkPlay. The discussions focused on how the respective employees had connected with their employers through LiveWorkPlay and how successful those relationships had been.

Around this same time, I had been thinking about two questions related to my service areas. The first question was how I could take a leadership role to ensure that the City continued to be an employer committed to diversity and inclusion, including hiring people with disabilities. The second question I was working on was how I might “rethink” the way we completed some of the work at the municipal elections office. With 2018 being a municipal election year, there was a tremendous amount of work ahead for our team and I was looking for new and effective ways to complete the related tasks.

When I heard the panelists talk about how finding ways for an employee with an intellectual disability succeed had yielded tremendous benefits to their organization, I realized there was an opportunity. In particular, it struck me how the employers talked about how reliable and detail-oriented their respective employees hired through LiveWorkPlay could be.

In the “election business”, reliability and attention to detail are tremendously important. It then occurred to me that there were opportunities for us to do some “job customization” by deconstructing the diverse tasks required to deliver a municipal election. In particular, I realized that the preparation of the “behind-the-scenes” and repetitive work involving supplies and warehousing could be separated from some of the other diverse tasks.

Immediately after the panel discussion, I approached Jen to pitch my idea of hiring a detail-oriented person through LiveWorkPlay to carry out some work in the Elections Office warehouse. She jumped at the idea and we immediately scheduled a meeting to explore the possibilities.

Following the initial meeting, our team was introduced to Ahmad and his Job Connector from LiveWorkPlay (the Job Connector helps with organizing accommodations, provides any needed education to existing employees, and provides coaching to the candidate).

At 22 years old of age, Ahmad’s previous employment experience had been working at two restaurants, and he seemed a good fit, so we moved forward. After an orientation period in August 2017, Ahmad began working for the Elections Office 14 hours per week.

Since joining our team, Ahmad has assembled tens of thousands of supplies, including building boxes and packaging supply kits for election poll workers. Under the direction of his supervisor, he has also completed the important work of organizing and re-labelling our 24,000 sq. foot warehouse.

As some final observations, the opportunity to invite Ahmad onto the Elections team has been very positive and has yielded many benefits. Namely, his work has aligned with Management’s overall goal to “flatten” some of the peaks and valleys that previously existed in the Elections program. By doing some customization we have accomplished work earlier than normal and in a manner that is more standardized and controlled. Ahmad has been a good, steady worker for us on that level.

In terms of impact, I can say without reservation that his contributions have improved the overall efficacy and integrity of the Elections program.

I encourage other managers and employers to reflect on how they might create similar inclusive opportunities. For us, it’s been great!

For those who are considering diversifying their workplace in this way, they should know that LiveWorkPlay’s Job Connector helped the supervisor feel well-prepared to support Ahmad’s success. The coaching and education, along with the overall experience, has created a better commitment to inclusion among all members of the Elections team.

Tyler Cox is Manager, Legislative Services at the City of Ottawa. In this role, he manages seven service areas including the Corporate Accessibility Office, the Municipal Elections Office, Committee and Council Services, Council Support Services, Mayor Support Services, Information Management, and the City of Ottawa Archives.