These Yankton employers are leading the way with giving their employees a healthy working environment where they can thrive.
Owner/General Manager, Kopetsky's Ace Hardware
Kopetsky’s Ace Hardware values employee retention. Owner, Kenny Kopetsky, states, “We have approximately 35 employees plus seasonal help, and we try to retain our employees a long time.”
One such longstanding employee, Jeremy Mehlhaff, brings a smile to Kopetsky’s face. “He does an awesome job cleaning and straightening,” Kopetsky says. “He’ll help customers find something or get someone who can. Jeremy is great to work with and very willing to help out.”
Mehlhaff’s employment came as the result of completing the standard application and interview process with the assistance of a job coach from Ability Building Services, also of Yankton. Kopetsky says Mehlhaff’s job coach still comes into the store once in awhile and may assist with communication from time to time, but Mehlhaff is “consistent and reliable.”
In terms of consistency and reliability, Kopetsky says Mehlhaff rarely takes a day off, and if he does, “We know a month in advance,” which is something Kopetsky appreciates. The hardware store owner adds, “We greatly appreciate everything he does—he’s one of the team.”
That appreciation also extends to ABS, who Kopetsky praises for teaching different skill sets. After working with various ABS clients during training exercises like stocking shelves, Kopetsky is happy to employ Mehlhaff.
Customer Care and Education Manager, Hy-Vee
For five years, Jerilyn Schad has been Hy-Vee’s Customer Care and Education Manager. After Human Resources hires employees, it is Schad’s job to complete all orientation and training. After that, she releases employees to their department for additional training. Once employees have joined the staff of over 400, Schad then handles their scheduling and performance reviews.
As busy as Schad’s career keeps her, she emphasizes that the dozen or so employees with disabilities do not create a burden of time or resources for the grocery chain. “We treat everyone the same,” Schad notes. “My job is to provide the tools and resources, so they can be successful. We employ people from teenagers to retirees, and everyone learns at their own speed. No matter who it is, we work with them. If someone struggles, I bring them in and ask ‘what tools can we put in your toolbox to help you?’”
Schad is grateful for the training she has had on the Americans with Disabilities Act, so she can fine-tune those tools for success. She works with everyone one-on-one and is careful to clearly outline his or her duties.
In order to help employees have a firm grasp of their responsibilities, Schad frames working for Hy-Vee as “acting a part,” whether that is in the bakery, grocery, or courtesy, each employee has to learn their role. Often, for employees with disabilities, this is done through exact shadowing—they watch how something is done, then reenact the duty themselves.
Schad enjoys seeing the people she’s trained succeed. Often, these successes are celebrated on the grocery store’s “Employee Success Board” or at the annual Christmas party. Schad encourages anyone who wants to join the Hy-Vee team to complete an online application. Those needing assistance can contact the Department of Labor or their community support provider such as Ability Building Services.