For many businesses in the retail and service sector across the country, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find and keep hardworking and motivated employees. According to Tanya Peach, Store Manager at the Walmart East Supercentre in Saint John, New Brunswick, more than half of the 20 seasonal employees she hired at the start of the summer left before the season got into full swing.
“We have a lot of young people apply for jobs who don’t really want to work,” says Peach, “they either don’t show up for work or are always late. We invest a lot of time in training and orientation before they even hit the floor and that all gets lost when employees leave.”
Thanks to Ready, Willing and Able (RWA), a national initiative designed to increase the labour force participation of people with intellectual disabilities and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Peach’s hiring process has achieved remarkable success. Through RWA, Peach hired three individuals at the same time as the others, and all of them have stayed.
Peach has been impressed and inspired by the people she hired through RWA, especially when she has to deal with a typical turnover rate of 15%. Furthermore, she has decided to keep at least one individual, Josh, as a permanent part-time employee beyond the season. As a sales associate in the Garden Centre, Josh is responsible for greeting and helping customers, keeping the Centre clean and safe and other general customer service duties.
“From a productivity point of view, Josh does an excellent job and because of his personality, dedication and reliability we wanted to keep him on our team,” says Peach. “He is very loyal and never misses a day of work.”
Peach admits there was some apprehension about the extra time it might take to train and orient the new employees and concern that they might not be as productive or functional. RWA helped her and her team with the hiring process and addressed their concerns about special allowances and productivity.
“Right from the beginning, Josh was a go-getter,” says Peach. “We have not had to make any special allowances and he is always eager and keen to do a good job. It is refreshing to have employees that we are all very proud to work with.”
Funded by the Government of Canada and active in 20 communities across the country, RWA is a national partnership of the Canadian Association for Community Living (CACL), the Canadian Autism Spectrum Disorders Alliance (CASDA) and their member organizations.