Where Have All the Good Employees Gone: An Untapped Labor Force

If you’re like many small businesses right now, you may be struggling to find qualified employees. Business owners have told me “all the good employees are taken!” but I’ve discovered a yet mostly untapped resource: our state’s vocational rehabilitation service. I met with the dedicated New Hampshire staff recently and was blown away by the services they can offer and their desire to help employers and employees. According to their website, New Hampshire Vocational Rehabilitation’s (NHVR) service can help businesses:

  • by providing information on staffing, financial incentives, accessibility and accommodation options, educational programs, and expertise on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
  • gain a critical business advantage by connecting them with a qualified and largely untapped New Hampshire labor force.

When I met with the team, I heard real-life stories to back up these claims and was quickly provided with the financial incentive information, educational programs, and easy to follow information on the ADA. Let me share some of those stories:

  • They worked with a former business owner who could no longer provide the day-to-day manual labor he had historically done with his own business. They connected him with a larger organization in the same industry where he provided supervision and leadership along with his experience;
  • A simple solution to keep a valuable sight-impaired employee engaged and employed by providing a larger monitor;
  • Educational programs provided to employees on topics such as working with a terminally ill co-worker or disability etiquette.

Some business owners are hesitant; this path is new and different, yet it has clear advantages. For example:

  • The VR team pre-screens applicants, saving you, the business owner, time and energy. I’ve never met a business owner yet who enjoys that step in hiring!
  • Financial savings in the form of tax credits and tax deductions.
  • NHVR may provide funding to a business for specialized skill training based upon the amount of time the employee needs to learn that skill. NHVR pays the hourly wage of the employee providing the training for a period determined by the business.
  • VR applicants are motivated and reliable. They are held accountable to NHVR standards, in addition to your own.
  • You are making a statement to the community about your company’s values. That being said, many individuals with disabilities require little to no accommodations so that “statement” may be more of a whisper.

There is an immeasurable value to hiring an individual a bit outside of your “typical” hire. In my experience, a VR hire may bring lightness and gratitude to the work environment; I looked forward to seeing Sally, a vocational rehab employee, to hearing her perspective, on a daily basis.

In NHVR’s words, “VR’s mandate is to find our participants competitive, sustainable employment where they will be working with non-disabled people.  We are not looking for a hand out or a favor.”

I don’t know about you, but I’d take an employee who fits that description any day.

For more information about the New Hampshire Vocational Rehab services, go to: www.education.nh.gov/career/vocational, You can also contact the Employment Specialist, Terri Tedeschi, directly at 603-271-6719.

To hear firsthand how New Hampshire businesses are having success with the Vocational Rehabilitation program, I encourage you to attend the Employment Leadership Awards. They will be at the Currier Museum of Art on Thursday, October 13, 2016, at 8:15 AM. To learn more and to register go to the Events page at www.MillyardCommunications.com, or http://millyardcommunications.com/index.php?submenu=events&src=events&srctype=events_list_blurb.



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Helen Dutton, A Vision of Your Own, has provided business and personal coaching for small business owners since 2000, providing online and face to face coaching for entrepreneurs, small business owners, start-up businesses as well as established businesses across the country. Clients come from New Hampshire, her home state, but she has also acted as a mentor to business owners in Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, the Denver area, and closer to home in the Boston area. Helen helps her clients develop their small business ideas, create marketing plans, improve operation efficiency, build customer service systems, build management and leadership skills, and develop confidence as a business owner. Helen provides business tips and resources through her blog and her newsletter, where you can also find business templates to help your business prosper.