Working in a disability employment service

At NOVA, we try not to kid ourselves about what it takes to do this job well. Sure, we see ourselves as experts in the disability employment field, and we have some good scores on the board. These are not laurels to rest on.

Our stated mission is ‘to help people with a disability find and keep satisfying jobs of their choice’. And that’s certainly what we dedicate ourselves to in our day-to-day work and our long-term planning.

The keystone to that achievement is not spelled out but you’ve heard it before: we are only as good as our people. What does that really mean? The short answer: much more than a recruitment process.

We attract great people. Often they want to work in disability employment because they feel it will give them a chance to help others. It will − and it is also a demanding job that requires enormous personal commitment.

We try to be up-front about that. To that end, we tell all job applicants that we are looking for people who are interested in supporting others to the extent that they will, if required, put another person's interests before their own.

Every person who gets through our recruitment process will necessarily be:

·       intelligent, resourceful, mature and kind

·       organised, determined, and possess a can-do approach

·       able to use initiative.

So, yes, I reiterate my point: we attract great people. But to borrow from our mission statement, we want to keep them as well as find them. Not just keep them, but keep them happy.

To do this we acknowledge the difficulties. We listen. We try to know and show how problems can be worked through and overcome, as individuals and as a team. We remind people that they are not alone. We learn together. And we remember the good stuff too.

In my book The Ten Demandments I state that job seekers with disability must expect DES staff to be: ‘Multi-skilled, expert, well-supported and caring’.

At NOVA ‘caring’ is a given. Qualifications and experience are bonuses. What we are really looking for is the potential to build skills and expertise. Then we make sure through ongoing training and development that each staff member is able to achieve this potential.

As for keeping everybody ‘well-supported’: this is not only an essential element of staff wellbeing, effectiveness and retention; it’s the best investment we can make in our greatest asset. 

- Martin Wren