A returner program for disability support workers
Encompass Community Services has provided community support services to the Geelong area for over thirty years.
Encompass actively engages with people with physical, intellectual, sensory and psychological disabilities; as well as disadvantaged cohorts, such as disengaged youth, those experiencing long-term unemployment and those facing financial, social or learning barriers.
Encompass has been working to overcome the challenges present in the disability sector, such as a highly transient workforce and the potential for burnout among staff due to the emotional nature of the work they do each day. The COVID-19 pandemic has slowed implementation of organisational initiatives to address these challenges.
The Career Revive initiative has prompted Encompass to reassess its approaches to talent attraction and engagement, representing a significant shift in mindset for the organisation.
Encompass has revised its attraction and recruitment approaches, experimenting with new recruitment channels (including social media) and applying a 'case-by-case' strategy for different positions.
The recruitment team have also experimented with the language of their advertisements, emphasising flexible roles and opportunities for an immediate start.
As part of the initiative, Encompass have designed a pilot returner program to support and upskill female staff seeking to return to work following a career break. The pilot returner program will be a first of its kind for both the disability sector and unique to the Geelong area.
The Encompass CEO has also engaged in regular mentoring sessions, focused on supports and structures that will help Encompass to meet and respond to growing demand for its services without compromising company culture and cohesion.
The diversification of recruitment approaches has resulted in the more efficient hiring of casual, part-time, and full-time staff. This has helped eased some of the workforce pressure in certain parts of Encompass, particularly for domestic cleaner and Community Support Worker roles.
Encompass will trial a pilot returner program in September 2021. The pilot returner program will run for twelve months and will hire, train and retain two disability support workers. If successful, the pilot returner program will be expanded to recruit returners every six months.
The Career Revive initiative has helped the Encompass team to question its assumptions about talent and engagement, embracing a mindset of continued experimentation. Encompass has also benefited from connecting with a community of businesses experiencing challenges like their own.
In future, Encompass will focus on an organisational restructure and strengthening of governance and corporate supports - including HR, finance and management roles so they may continue to support people of all abilities to be amazing.