Job Carving Program History

Background and development of the OHSU Job Carving Program

A catalyst

Oregon Health & Science University established an OHSU Community Advisory Council for Recruiting and Retaining People with Disabilities in 2015, in response to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs’ utilization goals for individuals with disabilities. OHSU believed that as the largest employer in Portland, they could create a significant employment impact for community members with disabilities in Oregon. Oftentimes individuals with disabilities are only offered volunteer roles within organizations. This initiative aimed to create new permanent jobs for people with disabilities.

Group photo of 4 partners involved in the program development and operation
OHSU (represented by Riikka Salonen - left) has partnered closely with Advance Working Solutions, owned by Joe Maxey (right). His employees Eric Stone and Marina Rake (center), who coach OHSU's Job Carving Program employees, were part of OHSU's various internship programs.

Efforts began with development of an advisory council. The Council is made up of OHSU leaders and employees; external job developers, job counselors and job coaches; and representatives from various disability advocacy organizations, including Oregon Vocational Rehabilitation Services. It has grown from 15 members to more than 190 members since 2015. The Job Carving initiative is co-led by a person with a disability, and membership includes several persons with disabilities and advocacy organizations. This membership representation reinforced the development of a culturally-responsive program.

Job carving process

The Council’s first initiative in 2015 was to develop the OHSU Job Carving Program. Job carving is done by extracting tasks from existing positions to optimize work flow of an intact team. Typically, job carving is done on an individual scale that aligns with a person’s abilities. As a unionized workplace, OHSU approached job carving more broadly. OHSU carved a brand new job classification that is designed to assist people with disabilities in obtaining lasting employment as well as provide employees with opportunities to thrive in their workplace.

This was OHSU’s first formal engagement with job carving. Getting the organization's leadership to support this project was essential. Joe Ness, now Chief Operating Officer for Healthcare at OHSU, hosted a Project Search in his previous place of employment and was an enthusiastic sponsor for this program. Ness said, “The success of an organization is dependent upon its ability to embrace and amplify the diverse skill sets, experiences and insights of its employees. The development and personnel resources provided by community agencies, such as Oregon Vocational Rehabilitation Services, helps OHSU to achieve this success. Through its Job Carving Program, which includes hires from the Oregon Vocational Rehab Services program, OHSU has increased its diverse workforce, solved employment and business needs and helped to instill independence and confidence in the unique members of our community.”

The Job Carving Pilot was joined by the leaders of School of Dentistry Central Sterile Processing, Environmental Services and Patient Transportation departments in 2016. Position descriptions were developed by answering to a question: what duties and tasks are not currently getting done due to other competing priorities? This new job role was named “Support Services Aide” or SSA. The Patient Transportation department hired pillow and hovermatt specialists to take care of the inventory and supply chain for these much needed items. At the School of Dentistry the inventory specialists support the sterile processing team’s workflow related to dental surgery instruments. Imaging specialists at Environmental Services ensure that OHSU’s public places always look clean and welcoming.

Requirements of the SSA job classification include that eligible candidates have a contract with Oregon Vocational Rehabilitation Services and have a job developer and job coach. This would automatically limit the candidates to people with disabilities. Candidates are recruited exclusively through job development agencies involved in the OHSU Job Carving Program. Employees are supported by job developers and job coaches throughout their selection and employment. More than 50 job coaches, employed by external job development agencies have been on-boarded through OHSU Healthcare Volunteer Services to focus on ensuring the success of new hires. Dedicated job coaching helps our SSAs during the on-boarding to become confident, competent and comfortable in the new working environment.

Developing a program like this requires leadership support, an adequate budget for salaries, and extensive in-kind hours from the stakeholders who have an interest in making the program a success. This program was co-developed with OHSU Human Resources, Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity, hiring managers and community leaders. OHSU Diversity Talent Acquisition and Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity were the drivers for this vision. OHSU professionals from multiple Human Resources teams made this vision possible. The partnership between Human Resources Compensation team and local supported employment agencies influenced the compensation design. It was determined that a schedule of 16 hours/week (0.4 FTE) would protect employees’ Social Security Insurance benefit status. The Talent Acquisition team helped with identifying applicable duties, writing the position descriptions, and selecting candidates. The on-boarding team and hiring managers ensured that new hires felt sense of belonging after they started.