The importance of Employment Maintenance - Carrie's story

Thursday, February 20, 2014

“I went into the Employment Maintenance workshop with the plan to job hop, instead of dealing with my feelings or with the problem… after coming to Champions I realized that job hopping is hard, my life would be much easier if I just stayed somewhere.” says 21 year old Carrie*.

When she first came to Champions, Carrie, who has been diagnosed with fibromyalgia, chronic migraines and chronic pain, had just been let go from her job. She felt  depressed and hopeless.

“The best thing about working with Champions was being reminded that I have skills, I have abilities, and I’m not the first person in the world who’s been fired!” she said enthusiastically.

Another aspect that appealed to Carrie was the variety of workshops that Champions offers to job candidates. The two that stood out for her were the Employment Maintenance and the Interview Skills workshops.

Employment Maintenance workshops are held each month in the Champions office. This workshop helps candidates to acquire and demonstrate basic strategies which assist in retaining employment, including:

  • Communicating and cooperating with co-workers and supervisors.
  • Problem-solving in the workplace; appropriate information sharing (boundaries).
  • Fully completing on-task expectations during work hours.
  • Selecting appropriate clothing for specific work sites.
  • Demonstrating employment expectations regarding punctuality.
  • Identifying and conveying to the employer those specific job site modifications which are deemed important to accommodate the limitations of the disability.
 The activity that stood out for Carrie was one in which she wrote down personal indicators which signalled that her mental health issues were starting to have a negative impact on her work. Her indicators included making mistakes, or not wanting to get up in the morning. The second part of this activity was to identify strategies which she could employ in order to address these indicators. The activity aims to give individuals a written plan of action to prevent further issues and to stop a spiral effect which may lead to an individual losing their job.

“One of my strategies was to remember to focus on my health, not just on work. Because if my health was bad, this translated into my work; another was to talk to my boss before things escalated.” says Carrie.

“I had thought about it before, but I had never written it down. That was really helpful. It was also good to talk about it in a group setting,” she added.

Carrie was also inspired by the other candidates in the room,“There was a man, I think he was an engineer, and he was just so positive, it was really refreshing...I realised that we're all different, but we've all had the same feelings at some point in life. Especially when it comes to getting a job,” she said.

Carrie’s experience with Champions made her reconsider her future plans to “job hop” and instead she plans to use the practical methods and support she received from Champions to stay at her new job as a retail associate in downtown Calgary.
 *name change.


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