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Work Toolkit:

3

Supporting people

Working

When the people you support are working, they're more likely to be able to live their best lives. Even when a job is secure, however, employment conversations remain important.

As a support professional, you can make sure the people you support are growing in their career paths. Check in regularly to assess the situation, make sure they have the needed supports and find out if they're still happy with what they're doing. Consider whether there might be opportunities for advancement or if they want to try something different.

When a person is working, it's important to help them stay engaged. As someone gains skills and experience, it's natural to want to move forward, try new things, earn more money and use new skills. Sometimes people get bored with the same old routine and simply want a change.

To determine if someone is ready for a change or encountering obstacles at work, ask open-ended questions and use person-centered tools. Use the sample questions and conversation starters below to help gauge someone's satisfaction with work.

About work:

  • What's the best part of your job?
  • How do you get along with your coworkers?
  • Tell me about your relationship with your supervisor.
  • Tell me about new tasks you'd like to try at your job.
  • What kind of help do you need to develop new or different work skills?
  • What other jobs might you be interested in?
  • Are you facing any issues at work?
  • What have you learned at your job?

About financial need:

  • How do you feel about the amount of money you have?
  • What would you do if you had more money?
  • What would concern you about working more hours?
  • Have you ever avoided extra hours or a promotion because you're concerned about how it would impact your benefits?

Consider using the 4+1 person-centered planning tool (PDF) to identify what's going well, what could be improved and what could be done differently at the current job.

“” Key resource

Identify satisfaction with work and maintain a focus on career growth with this
Career success worksheet (PDF) »

Whether a person is satisfied with their work, dissatisfied or looking for growth, you can provide helpful resources.

When a person is satisfied with their current job and earnings, you can:

  • Monitor supports. Make sure people are receiving the necessary supports to maintain their jobs and that you're continually discussing their work situation, including opportunities for advancement.
  • Prepare for advancement and new opportunities. Consider how to help people prepare for opportunities for career advancement (such as a promotion or increased hours or pay). Make sure their resume and profile are updated so they can quickly respond to opportunities. If someone turns down opportunities for advancement because they're afraid of what will happen to their benefits, make sure they know about Disability Benefits 101 and how to address benefit concerns.
  • Reduce formal supports. As someone becomes more familiar and skilled at work, they may be able to reduce their formal supports. Gradually reducing supports such as job coaching can boost a person's independence and inclusion at work. Explore how informal supports (like assistance from coworkers) can replace formal services.
  • Share success. Provide opportunities for people to share their employment success stories with others. Encourage them to join the Virtual Insight Panel, or VIP, and share their stories on the Hub.
  • Grow in all areas of life. Regularly offer a range of experiences outside of work to encourage continued growth and opportunity.

When a person is satisfied with their current job but open to advancement, you can:

  • Prepare for advancement and new opportunities. Consider how to help people prepare for opportunities for career advancement (such as a promotion or increased hours or pay). Make sure their resume and profile are updated so they can quickly respond to opportunities. If someone turns down opportunities for advancement because they're afraid of what will happen to their benefits, make sure they know about Disability Benefits 101 and how to address benefit concerns.
  • Plan for what they want. Use the Charting the LifeCourse life trajectory for exploring employment worksheet (PDF) to determine what advancements or new opportunities could look like — and what steps it will take to get there.
  • Build skills. Depending on the person's advancement interests and goals, help them access things like career development classes or workshops. Consider online tools and check options at a local CareerForce Center.
  • Check for job search support needs. If the person wants to look for a new job, help them plan their job search. Consider connecting the person with Vocational Rehabilitation Services.
  • Encourage self-advocacy. Encourage the people you support to advocate for raises and new job opportunities when appropriate. Role play to prepare for these discussions.

When a person is dissatisfied with their current job or earnings, you can:

  • Clarify concerns and help problem-solve. Work with the person to understand specific areas of dissatisfaction — such as personal issues with coworkers or supervisors, work tasks or benefits concerns — and then help them develop a plan to resolve the issues. Even if the person is considering a different job, understanding and being able to resolve issues is a transferrable skill. Dig deeper into the concerns with the 4+1 person-centered planning tool (PDF).
  • Plan for the future. Use the Charting the LifeCourse life trajectory for exploring employment worksheet (PDF) to see what advancements or new opportunities could look like and how to get there. Consider what the person does and doesn't like about their current employment to help guide their trajectory.
  • Identify supports. Use the Charting the LifeCourse integrated supports star worksheet (PDF) to discuss personal networks and identify allies who might be able to help.
  • Connect to job search supports. If the person is interested in pursuing a new job, help them plan the job search process. Consider connecting the person with Vocational Rehabilitation Services. 
“” Key resource

Need to identify supports? Use Charting the LifeCourse's
Integrated supports star worksheet (PDF) »

If the person you're supporting has questions or concerns about how changes in their work — such as changing jobs, working more hours or accepting a pay raise — will affect their benefits, introduce them to Disability Benefits 101. Show them the benefits estimators plus the chat feature for questions. You can also connect the person to a benefits expert at the Hub.

Disability Benefits 101

See how work and benefits go together at
Disability Benefits 101 »

Your role as a champion is to help the people you support grow into their full potential — and learn to be their own champions.

Build confidence
People build confidence from experience. Help the people you support consider what they've learned during their employment and how working has helped them grow as individuals.

Become a self-advocate
To help the people you support develop their self-advocacy skills and interests, use the following resources:

  • Advocating Change Together. This grassroots disability rights organization is run by and for people with developmental and other disabilities.
  • Self-Advocacy Online. This site helps people learn about self-advocacy, find self-advocacy groups and browse stories from self-advocates.
  • The Arc Minnesota. The Arc helps people with disabilities use their power to advocate for themselves and to educate others to do the same.

Share success
Provide opportunities for people to share their employment success stories with others. Encourage them to join the Virtual Insight Panel, or VIP, and share their stories on the Hub. Encourage them to be an inspiration to others who may be starting to think about employment. 

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