Untapped Labor Pool
Oct 1, 2016
Wendell Bontrager,, Old National Bank

One issue many businesses face in our region is a lack of adequate candidates to fill open positions. As employers consider where to find good employees, one sector currently under-utilized is persons with disabilities.

In 2008, Walgreens built a new distribution center in Anderson, South Carolina. At the time, they chose to hire 700 employees, of which, 280 (40%) had disabilities. Walgreens decided to place employees in jobs of all types and not limit roles based on initial perceptions. Further, when the board of directors approved this practice, they expected the job performance of all employees to meet the current standards and didn’t lower the standards for those with a disability. They operated under the following philosophy:  ‘same pay; same standards; same jobs’. The results? The Anderson center operates 20% more efficiently than other centers in its system. Walgreens Anderson center became the archetype for hiring employees with disabilities and has led to Lowe’s, Proctor and Gamble, Best Buy and Toys R Us replicating their model. 

How will hiring persons with disabilities impact your company? First, it will have a positive impact on the culture of your company. In a study done by Anderson University in August 2015, managers developed a strong relationship-based management style and formed a balance between a focus on job performance and authentic one-on-one relationships. This ultimately leads to a strong teamwork atmosphere. Second, as shown by Walgreens experience, you can expect to achieve the same level of job performance and operational efficiency after employing persons with disabilities. 

In summary, there is a skilled labor market that exists in our region, one we don’t think about often enough in our hiring process.

Wendell Bontrager, Region President, Old National Bank
(260) 310-6685,

Lake City Bank - Automated

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