Ellen DeGeneres does HR

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A major HR topic attracted celebrity attention this week as Ellen DeGeneres called on employers to recruit people they may not immediately consider.

“I hope more people see this and see that you actually can hire people that you think you shouldn’t hire,” said the chat-show host. “I hope more people do that right now,” she added.

DeGeneres was talking about employers hiring people with disabilities or, more specifically, autism – the request came as internet sensation and dancing barista Sam appeared on her show.

Starbucks employee Sam shot to online fame after a video was shared showing his unique skills – and dance moves. The aspiring 17-year-old had previously been told his autism deemed him unemployable but manager Chris spotted potential in the youngster and offered him a job.

“Sam really stood out to me when I actually met him,” said Chris. “He told me one of his dreams – he wanted to be a barista – and I tried to make that happen,” he added.
“In that moment, my life changed and my whole world changed,” Sam told DeGeneres, recounting the moment he was offered his dream job.

Sam’s dancing not only helps him concentrate on the task in hand but also helps him find an outlet for the jerky movements that accompany his autism.

“The music and the dance was able for him to control himself, focus on the drinks, focus on the routines,” explains manager Chris. “He’s become more comfortable and he’s been doing so great.”

Sam, who’s excelling in his role and has proved himself as a valuable employee, is quick to show his appreciation to the employer who gave him a chance.

“He’s an amazing boss and he’s also a really, really good friend,” gushed Sam. “I wouldn’t give him up for anything.”

Chris also addressed the concerns that many employers may have, of hiring someone whose social skills aren’t necessarily in line with most other employees or who they might think will take a lot of time to manage.

“When I first met Sam he was a little shy, he had trouble looking me in the eye – through the progression I’ve seen Sam be so outgoing with our customers, he’s been able to make all the drinks, he’s so friendly and he works really independent.”


 
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  • Sharon McAllister on 2016-02-25 12:14:23 PM

    Employers everywhere: See and hear this message! The value of diversity in the workplace is truly amazing. Not only is it the right thing to do, but there is a phenomenal business case to be made for hiring people with different abilities. Studies show that persons with disabilities (regardless of the actual disability) are more reliable, loyal and engaged employees than those who don't have such challenges. Ensuring that your workforce reflects the communities in which you operate is simply good business.

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