Cincinnati, OH, October 19, 2017
Observed each October, NDEAM celebrates the contributions of workers with disabilities and educates about the value of a workforce inclusive of their skills and talents. Reflecting the important role that different perspectives play in workforce success, this year’s National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) theme is “Inclusion Drives Innovation.” Thanks to their enthusiastic commitment to hiring individuals with disabilities and making them an integrated part of their workforce, we recognize Topgolf as the October 2017 Easterseals Hero.
Topgolf is an entertainment venue in West Chester with driving ranges, lounges and games. The venue opened in July of 2016, and the first individual served by Easterseals was hired in November. There are six individuals currently employed by Topgolf at this time, holding a variety of positions including dishwasher, porter, silverware roller, and prep cook.
When asked why Topgolf is so intentional in incorporating inclusion into its business model, spokesperson Anne Winegardner says, “One of our core values is ‘One Team.’ Inclusion is part of who we are.”
Gary Pottebaum, Manager of Youth Transition and Community Employment at Easterseals, has been greatly impressed with the partnership of Topgolf. He praises “their ability to be creative and go outside of a ‘traditional’ interview process, and to create alternate job descriptions when there is a good fit.”
When an individual served by Easterseals is ready for community employment, they are matched with an Easterseals Job Coach who makes sure that the employment is a good fit for both employer and employee. These coaches build a personal relationship with the individual and help navigate the interview, hiring, and training process. Melissa Webber has been an Easterseals Job Coach and Job Developer for more than two years, and she has been pleased with the environment that Topgolf has created for its employees.
“Topgolf has been very enthusiastic about working with our individuals,” says Webber. “They have been very flexible with scheduling and specific needs.
Amber Wenzel, another Easterseals Job Coach and Job Developer, elaborates further. “The individuals that I have placed there have been very special cases, that I was concerned about finding a place for them to fit in,” she explains. “For example, Jamie…has communications barriers. She communicates best with pictures. TopGolf allowed me to come and take pictures of all her tasks so that I could create a picture task list for her.” The task list has been a great success, and Wenzel frequently receives updates from Jamie’s supervisor about how much they enjoy working with Jamie.
The success of the relationship is more than just logistical accommodations, of course. The overall environment at Topgolf, from all levels of employees, has been welcoming and supportive. Webber has noticed that one of her individuals has made many friends with his co-associates, and Wenzel has heard from individuals and their families that the atmosphere and acceptance have been exceptional.
Winegardner speculates that it stems from Topgolf’s commitment to building a culture of teamwork, saying, “We eat, sleep and breathe our values every day, not only with our guests, but with our fellow Associates as well. I think we hire the type of people who are very accepting, so everyone works together wonderfully.” She even comments on the impact she has seen on other employees, that having an inclusive workforce makes everyone more caring, compassionate, and patient.
A famous quote from Martin Luther King, Jr. says, “No work is insignificant.” Employment offers experience, transferable skills, independence, and pride in knowing the significance of work to the individuals we serve.
We are grateful to Topgolf for creating these opportunities.