Employers Who Empower: Mishal's Story
Mishal clocks in at the Hampton Inn of Cranberry Township on a Wednesday morning. It’s already almost 10:00 a.m., so she knows she needs to vacuum the carpet in the dining area. After that, she’ll move to the lobby since the rugs need to be vacuumed too. The tables need wiping, and it looks like the coffee station is running low on sugar.
She’s got a full plate of work to do, and the day has barely begun!
Thanks to programs like InVision’s Employment Supports that support people with disabilities as they pursue their dream jobs, Mishal is gainfully employed. She works hard, like any other employee, and—with the help of her job coaches—she excels in her career.
But it’s not just Mishal and her dedicated team who make this happen: The Hampton Inn fosters a productive and inclusive workspace, and they value and respect Mishal’s abilities. They continue to show their commitment to effecting growth, change, and success among people with disabilities, no matter the complexity of their challenges.
Creating a Positive Impact
It wasn’t that long ago that people with disabilities didn’t have the opportunity to contribute to their communities in meaningful ways. In fact, some people with disabilities still face an uphill battle. Yet, in spite of this, employment levels—and, by extension, community participation—for people with disabilities have surged in recent years.
A lot of this progress is thanks to employers who are willing to push aside biases and welcome people with disabilities into their workforce with an understanding that even though they may require additional support, their contributions are valuable. The Hampton Inn recognizes the unique skills of people like Mishal, and they’re more than willing to make the necessary modifications to ensure the people they hire have the opportunity to learn and grow in their positions.
Without the Hampton Inn’s support, Mishal likely would have struggled more with her daily tasks. Early in her tenure, she was assigned duties she had trouble completing. Despite this, the Hampton Inn worked closely with her and her job coaches to revise and modify her duties, finding tasks that would bring out the best in her abilities.
“Sadly, many employers are unwilling to modify tasks to suit skills, so [the Hampton Inn] really proves to us how far they’re willing to go to help Mishal succeed,” says Amy Mozzocchi, one of her job coaches.
And it’s not just management at the Hampton Inn who’s invested in Mishal’s success. By fostering an inclusive environment for all employees, her co-workers are always ready to lend her a helping hand.
By focusing on Mishal’s strengths and giving her more support when she needs it, the Hampton Inn helped her become more productive and confident in her work.
Employers who are understanding about the modifications and special arrangements needed for people with disabilities, and who also pay attention to the work environments they cultivate, are critical for their continued success in the workforce. But this isn’t to understate the role providers, like InVision, play in supported employment.
Supported Employment as a Vehicle for Success
Mishal used to volunteer at Animal Friends. Her love for animals shone through her work ethic, and other volunteers and staff there enjoyed her company and appreciated her help. When she was no longer able to continue volunteering with them, Mishal decided she needed to make a change.
“Mishal said to us that she wanted to have something to do to ‘get out of the house’,” says Amy.
When the people we support show interest in working, we get to work finding the right job for them. Rather than placing a person we support into any position that will hire them, our job facilitators discover with them their interests and goals for working.
Job facilitators work directly with employers to identify potential unrecognized staffing needs that can be filled by a candidate with disabilities. These customized positions help people like Mishal fulfill their desire to work while ensuring they’re adequately supported along the way.
Mishal is one such person who continues to find success in her job thanks to the collaboration between her support team and the Hampton Inn management.
“She finds a lot of excitement in learning new things, and she really loves her job,” says Amy.
The Hampton Inn has been exceptional in their sensitivity to the needs of employees with disabilities. They help her learn new things, and—more than once—they’ve been proactive in modifying duties, like when Mishal was tasked with cleaning windows in the pool room and she struggled with it.
“They immediately revised her duties, and she now excels,” says David Zarlengo, one of Mishal’s job coaches. “They’re really understanding of people with disabilities, and they’re supportive when we need to make changes to our support structure to ensure Mishal continues to do well at work.”
After early tinkering with her job responsibilities, Mishal has a routine schedule of housekeeping duties including vacuuming rugs and carpets; cleaning vending and ice machines; wiping down tables; and stocking coffee stations. Any time she needs a little more time to complete a task, the Hampton Inn readily provides it. They have shown us how dedicated they are to Mishal, ensuring she continues to learn, grow, and reach her goals. To accommodate people with disabilities, they prove that employers don’t have to do much more than make minor adjustments to their processes.
The people InVision supports in employment have a job retention rate of 80% after one year of employment, a full 40% higher than the national rate. This success is only possible because of InVision’s model of employment supports and collaboration with employers like the Hampton Inn who are willing to meet us halfway.
It was because of the Hampton Inn’s dedication to Mishal and other employees with disabilities that encouraged us to nominate them for the Pennsylvania Advocacy and Resources for Intellectual Disability and Autism (PAR) Employer of the Year award. This distinction recognizes employers who have made great efforts to build inclusive work environments for people with disabilities and equip them with the tools and support they need to succeed. The Hampton Inn demonstrates this commitment daily, especially through their support of Mishal.
They won the award, and we were thrilled to invite David to Harrisburg for the ceremony to accept it on their behalf. The recognition introduced their efforts to a wider audience, and their story reminds people with disabilities that there are employers who will welcome them into their businesses and commit to helping them grow as employees and as people.
Looking to the Future
Despite the push and incentive to hire people with disabilities, many employers continue to hang onto a reluctance to hire and train them. Misconceptions abound when it concerns employment for people with disabilities, but more and more employers are beginning to see the benefits of hiring them, whether it’s to fulfill a social responsibility or to inject more diversity into their business. But there are plenty of employers who hire people with disabilities simply because they can and want to work, and they bring special talents and skills into a workforce that may not have been found in anyone else.
The Hampton Inn realizes this, and they continue to evaluate and improve their processes so that employees with disabilities, like Mishal, can see how they make a difference and bring value to the companies for which they work.
As Mishal enters her third year of employment with the Hampton Inn, we couldn’t be prouder as an organization to see her thrive in her position.