In the U.S., 100,000-120,000 employees leave their jobs every day. Worker retention continues to be a big issue, even as the employment rate rebounds from the pandemic. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, “In January 2022, median employee tenure (the point at which half of all workers had more tenure and half had less tenure) for men held at 4.3 years. For women, median tenure was 3.8 years.” Only 28% of men and 26% of women had been with their employer for ten years or more.
Why do employees leave? Career development is cited as the number one reason. While the term covers a variety of factors, it can be summed up as an employee’s desire to learn, grow, and advance their career.
ALSO offers their employees a wealth of career development opportunities. That’s one reason disability advocate Miranda Chatterton has been with ALSO for more than a quarter century. Another reason? ALSO not only gives Miranda the chance to grow, but gives her the opportunity to watch the people she helps grow and thrive.
Like many disability advocates who’ve made their career at ALSO, Miranda began as a direct support professional. From there, she became a Lead Staff (formerly called Med Tech), and then worked her way up to managing the supported employment services department. Now, as ALSO’s Supported Employment Manager, she manages job coaches and does whatever needs to be done to ensure that the people ALSO supports have the resources they need to succeed.
“What makes me stay?” Miranda says. “Seeing the growth and the changes in the people we support…Sometimes in supported employment, we’ll have somebody who’s never worked, and people—even guardians—will say, “They’ll never be able to do that,” and then we’ll show them that they can do it. If you give us the opportunity to try, ninety percent of the time it works…When they get that first paycheck and they’re like, ‘This is mine?’ and we say, ‘Yep, this is yours,’ it’s so cool. Just being able to see that and to watch the magic that we had started happening…It’s just awesome watching them grow.”
Miranda believes ALSO’s success come from its person-centered approach. “we look at every individual on their own. We see what they want to do, what they desire in employment.” Then ALSO’s supported employment specialists help them figure out a way to achieve that desire. Miranda gives an example: “Maybe someone says, ‘I want to be a fireman.’ We talk with them, and find out what they really want is to wear a uniform. So we find them a job that where they can wear a uniform…We’re all about being person-centered. It’s in our mission.”
She tells a real-world success story. An individual supported by ALSO is a Blazers fan, so supported employment specialists found him a job that aligned with his love of basketball. “When he first got the job, we didn’t know if it was going to work,” says Miranda, “But he developed a great relationship with his manager.” He has been in the job going on three years now, and his manager recently contacted Miranda to say he can’t wait to have this particular employee back at work so they can talk Blazers. “He (the employee) loves it and can’t wait to get back in there. That’s what makes me passionate about employment—just watching that.”
ALSO’s person-centered approach extends to other disability support services, too. “We try our hardest to make sure each individual gets what they want,” Miranda says. “Even if it’s a trip to Europe or something, we’ll see what we can do to make it happen.”
“I love working here,” Miranda says. “I love everything about my job. Even our CEO, he’s okay.” She laughs. “It’s nice that he’s willing to communicate. He responds to my emails and texts. We all have a good relationship with him. I think that’s what’s different about us from any other agency.”
Miranda also feels that support from her supervisor, Supported Employment Director Chaz Volavka. “If I have a call-off (someone can’t come in to work), he’ll help me find a way to shift things around so people don’t have to work too many hours; to help make sure people aren’t overworked or get burned out. I’m able to come to him when I need to.” She’s close with the ALSO team, too (and not just with her husband, ALSO Associate Director in Residential Services, John Chatterton). “I love the crew. I’m sure we could be better, but I don’t know how, because I think all the supports are there. We’re just a big family and we love each other.”
In her twenty-eight years at ALSO, Miranda has seen a lot of growth in the organization and in her career, but the favorite part of her job is watching the people ALSO supports progress in their careers and their lives. “It’s so cool to be right there with them and help them figure out different techniques to do the job, then being able to back off and see them do it on their own. Watching their progress—it’s pretty rewarding. I love that. I just love it.”
Want to love your job? To experience the kind of growth and career development that makes you want to stay at an organization for more than a quarter century? Check out ALSO’s career opportunities for a variety of disability advocate jobs working with people with disabilities.
And if you’re looking for person-centered disability support services that can help you or your family member grow, talk to us. All of our disability support services, whether supported employment, residential services, or in-home supportive services—are designed to encourage people with intellectual and developmental disabilities to live their best lives. Learn more about us and/or register for a free tour today!
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