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Promising Practices

Hire (and Keep) the Best: Personnel Processes

In the 2012 report, Federal Agency Employment Strategies: A Framework for Disability Inclusion, the Office of Disability Employment Policy, U.S. Department of Labor outlined federal best practices for recruiting, hiring, and advancing people with disabilities. The Hire (and Keep) the Best recommendation described how high performing federal agencies grow with their employees through collaborative recruitment, retention and advancement practices.

Finding and keeping the best employees is a collaborative process. The U.S. Forest Service Eastern Region partners with agencies, managers and their employees to employ a high quality, diverse workforce -- and support career advancement as a path to employee retention.

Collaboration with Agencies

Developing partnerships is a cost-effective, time saving means to build a pool of qualified candidates for your open positions. The Forest Service works closely with Job Corps to find highly skilled, qualified employees. They also work with state Vocational Rehabilitation agencies to develop workplace supports and accommodations to help ensure that employees with significant disabilities get the right start. According to Montez Ashley, Equal Employment Specialist with the Forest Service,

“I think collaboration and partnership are key to ensuring that as we're bringing in different individuals and working to diversify our workforce those collaborations, those partnerships help support the success of those entities and initiatives.”

Accommodations to Keep the Best

To retain high performing employees, Federal agencies must be responsive to life’s changes. The Forest Service has developed mechanisms to expedite the accommodation approval process. For instance, at the Department of Agriculture (USDA), Alison Levy, Departmental Disability Employment Program Manager, oversees a USDA group that works on expediting the reasonable accommodation processes. From Clara Johnson’s point of view the process of receiving approval for her accommodation at the Forest Service could not have been faster. After carefully describing her needs for accommodation, her supervisor said

“…okay, just send your paperwork in and I’ll sign off on it. I sent it in, she signed off on it the same day.”

Advancing Careers

Career advancement is the shared responsibility of the employee and his or her supervisor. The supervisor provides both mentoring, encouragement, and the opportunity to learn and apply advanced skills. The employee works collaboratively with his or her supervisor, communicates a professional vision and develops related skills and credentials. As Ethan Ready, Public Affairs Officer with the Forest Service remarked,

“The supervisor-employee relationship has to be strong enough where they know that you’ve got their back.”

Reasonable accommodations are an essential ingredient of career advancement, enhancing an employee’s performance by thoughtfully removing barriers.