Often, the success stories we explore are relevant to individual job seekers and the employers that support them. This time we bring you something a little different; a three-part series that shines a spotlight on a new National Employment Partnership between Officeworks and WISE Employment.
In October 2018, Chris Matheson, Disability Employment Specialist for WISE reached out to Officeworks’ HR department in hope of delivering one message; hiring someone living with a disability can help a business thrive. It wasn’t long before Chris was put in touch with Georgie Swan from Officeworks Human Resources and together with the support of their teams, a number of success stories for job seekers and Officeworks stores have developed.
“When we first started working with Officeworks, we armed them with all the relevant information and insights when hiring someone living with a disability; from a potential candidate’s diagnosis, the triggers and how to support, along with well documented benefits such as loyalty and fewer sick days,” said Chris.
What started as a pilot program in December 2018 where job seekers were hired across three stores, Richmond, Mornington Peninsula and Chirnside Park in Victoria, has now rolled out to South Australia and Tasmania. In just short of six months, seven stores across three states will have hired 12 job seekers living with a disability such as autism, Asperger syndrome, depression and across a number of generations from 19-55 years of age. Another 12 job seekers will be employed in South Australia stores by the end of June.
“With the right training and guidance for each store, more than 50 per cent of the hires have been made permanent part time,” said Chris.
“We’re thrilled to see Officeworks bring disability into the workplace and help reduce the stigma and barriers to employment. They were willing to give this a shot – we need more companies to open their doors like Officeworks has.”
Officeworks value hiring for attitude. Whilst the customer is at the heart of everything they do, the staff are passionate about providing great customer service and have an attitude for helping make bigger things happen. Georgie Swan, HR Business Partner for Officeworks is a testament to helping bring that vision to life and instrumental in driving the WISE partnership forward.
“This is our first National Employment Partnership with a job service provider. Community is a big part of what we do, and we like to work with the communities we serve and reflect the societies we work for as well. This partnership isn’t about short-term placements – this is about making a difference to someone’s life.
Through WISE, we have a supportive team that visits all the stores in which successful job seekers have been placed. Conversations with the leadership team are ongoing along with disability awareness training to help staff understand why it’s important to have an inclusive workplace,” said Georgie.
Officeworks together with WISE plan to roll out the program to more stores and states across the eastern seaboard. With Souzan Asfour, Head of Employer Engagement, WISE are keen to see more candidates register their interest.
“There are opportunities to work for job seekers living with a disability. We realise that for a number of reasons, such job seekers may have been let down time and time again. Part of our role is to help job seekers understand their potential and equally encourage employers to follow through on their commitment to diversify their workplace. Officeworks has been a standout; their integrity and honesty has been outstanding, as has their commitment to embracing diversity,” explained Souzan,
From here, where to next? WISE is heading for the sunny state of Queensland and hope to build on what’s already been achieved with Officeworks across Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania.