Tim Hortons, located at 1229 Wonderland Road North, beside Sherwood Forest Mall in London, Ontario, opened their doors 19 years ago. As a quick service restaurant and coffee shop, employee turnover has always been an issue. Manager Anita Johnston has found much higher levels of employee retention are just one of the many benefits of adding people with disabilities to her team. Currently five of her employees have a disclosed disability, and three of these employees have been with the business for more than five years. Not only have they stayed with their employer in an industry traditionally known to have a very high employee turnover rate, these employees have also transitioned into much more complex job descriptions and are thriving in these roles.
Anita’s initial concerns revolved around the fast paced work environment; that someone with a disability could slow the rest of the staff down, that their disability could interfere and become a safety concern for themselves or other staff members, or that they may be limited in their job tasks as every position requires a lot of multitasking. Her findings? Not only were these concerns unwarranted; hiring employees with disabilities considerably increased workplace productivity and raised her expectations.
Now when Anita hears other employers voice similar concerns about hiring people with disabilities, she gives them examples of the excellent, hard working employees she has hired over the years and the tremendous benefits they bring to the workplace. This is a great example of why the Sherwood Forest Mall Tim Hortons location won the Small Business Award at the Ability First Champion Awards held in November 2014. The Small Business Award is presented to a business under 50 employees that develops and applies the concept of ability first and best practices in recruitment, retention, and talent management.
Anita has always believed, “Everyone should be given an opportunity to work if they want to. It’s just a matter of finding the right job fit.” She had experienced the benefits of hiring employees with disabilities prior to joining the Tim Hortons team, and of this experience says, “It kept me open minded when I was approached to hire someone at my current workplace.”
At this location, Anita has hired both with the assistance of a Partner in Employment and without. Anita suggests new employers connect with a Partner in Employment to help them get them started. Goodwill Industries screened potential employees for Anita and helped to assist with training. Goodwill is available for ongoing support for the employer and the employee for as long as needed.
I hire for ability first because it shouldn’t matter whether or not someone has a disability as long as they can perform the job requirements.