New guide launched to help firms integrate workers with special needs

New guide launched to help firms integrate workers with special needs

A new guide has been launched to help companies better integrate those with special needs in the workplace. Jeraldine Yap reports.

SINGAPORE: A new guide has been launched to help companies better integrate those with special needs in the workplace.

The Job Redesign Guide for Inclusive Employers was developed by SG Enable, in collaboration with the Ministry of Manpower. The 29-page guide provides information on what job redesign is and how to implement it. 

For example, companies can reassign roles and responsibilities, make changes to the work processes or arrangements, modify the workspace or use assistive technology devices and software.

Employers can refer to the guide for information about grants available for them to hire and support people with disabilities. Existing initiatives include the Open Door Programme and Career Trial.

The job redesign guide was launched by Minister of State for Manpower Zaqy Mohamad, during a visit to social enterprise Foreword Coffee on Monday (Jun 17).

READ: Guide for companies to integrate persons with special needs to be rolled out

He said the launch of the guide is timely, as Singapore has reached the point of maturity where it should be able to look at helping people with special needs gain dignified employment.

“I hope that more customers, more Singaporeans will be more understanding as they consume, as they become customers to such establishments," said Mr Zaqy. "And I think over time, we must give them some space to learn to be productive, and at the same time as well, look after their well-being too."

Foreword Coffee is one of four organisations featured in the guide to showcase best practices. Of its 18 employees, 14 have special needs.

The cafe realised that different employees with special needs had different challenges associated with their particular disability. 

For example, those with cerebral palsy could not stand for a long time, while those who were deaf struggled to communicate effectively with their colleagues and customers.

READ: A little help goes a long way to enable special-needs workers

To tackle these challenges, Foreword Coffee organised cafe operations into four different stations, and specific job tasks at each station were carved out for the employees according to difficulty level.

Assistant outlet manager Melvin Sii demonstrating how to make coffee
Assistant outlet manager Melvin Sii demonstrates how to make coffee. (Photo: Jeraldine Yap)

The menu was also simplified – for instance, an Americano is listed as black coffee – to help staff members understand and process orders more easily.

“We want to make the workflow as efficient and as simple as possible for our people. We see that our people enjoy their work and also still (can) be productive in whatever they do. So it’s been really good for us,” said Mr Lim Wei Jie, founder of Foreword Coffee.

Examples of signs to help staff members remember what to do
Examples of signs to help staff members remember what to do. (Photo: Jeraldine Yap)

He added there are plans to train the employees to take up jobs beyond barista work, such as marketing and designing.

Since January 2016, about 750 companies have employed about 2,000 persons with special needs.

“This is something I think is promising, and with the redesign guide, I hope we can expand this much further," said Mr Zaqy. "The Ministry of Manpower is keen to support SG Enable and others to see how we can expand this and encourage more companies to take up our schemes."

Source: CNA/nc(aj)

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