LANSING, Mich.—Lt. Gov. Brian Calley today presented the inaugural Better Off Working awards to Meijer and Peckham Industries for their leadership in training, employing and retaining workers with disabilities. The award presentation was part of the release of the innovative Better Off Working report, which details programs that help more people with disabilities tap their potential and connect to work and provides needed changes in the disability system to encourage employment.
Calley was joined at the event by Michigan Department of Human Services Director Maura Corrigan and members of the Better Off Working workgroup at the Meijer Distribution Center on South Creyts Road in Lansing. The workgroup was created last year by Director Corrigan after discussions with fellow secretaries, members of the disability community and employers on workplace challenges faced by those with disabilities.
"I commend the work of DHS Director Corrigan and the Better Off Working workgroup. This is a critical issue and we need to continue aggressively looking for employment opportunities for those with disabilities,” Calley said. “It is important that we encourage self-determined pathways where all people have the chance to chase their dreams rather than being steered into predetermined outcomes based on labels and diagnosis. I'm proud of our partners, Meijer and Peckham, and their commitment to helping those with disabilities become valuable members of their workforces."
Meijer Vice President of Distribution Rick Keyes and Peckham Industries President Mitch Tomlinson, along with Peckham-trained Meijer employees, accepted the awards on behalf of their companies.
"We are proud of receiving the inaugural Better Off Working Award,” Keyes said. “By focusing on what persons with disabilities can do, rather than what they cannot, we are seeing incredible results at matching team members with the right jobs. We’re finding that refining our job matching techniques for persons with disabilities improves morale and can have tremendous impact on the overall effectiveness of our supply chain operations."
The Better Off Working report was developed by workgroup members representing the Michigan Department of Human Services, Michigan Rehabilitation Services, the Disability Determination Service, The Disability Network and Michigan employers. It focuses on steps to improve the likelihood of success for individuals with disabilities in the workplace. Director Corrigan chaired the effort. After finishing the report, the workgroup believes more strongly than ever that all people, including those with disabilities, are better off working.
“Too few Michiganders with disabilities are working because too often the system gets in the way. This report outlines specific ways we can change that, including removing barriers and deterrents,” said Corrigan. “The goal of disability benefits should be to advance employment and entrepreneurial opportunities and help those with disabilities to enter or return to the workforce.”
The Better Off Working plan identifies a number of administrative and legislative changes that can be made at the local, state and federal levels to remove barriers, change incentives, improve services and connect more individuals with disabilities to work. These include:
The full Better Off Working report can be downloaded here.
Better Off Working Workgroup members include: