Success factors and tips in partnerships with employers

EPR has identified four important stages with each a number of success factors that are important in partnerships with employers. These lists are non-exhaustive. 


1.     Making first contact with employers

Making first contact with employers can be done in different ways. Below you can find a list of possible actions to take in this first stage:

  • Identify and involve partners/colleague expert
    • Before starting a partnership project, it is necessary to check good practices from other organisations
    • Contact colleague experts to ask feedback on a partnership idea/ ask to collaborate in the partnership
    • Involve relevant partners who can have an added value to the project
  • Organize awareness raising events about the integration of people with special needs into the labour market
    • Awareness raising about misconceptions, advantages/value of hiring PwD C
  • Change the mindset of managers: raise awareness about diversity in employment
  • Make direct contact to potential employers: set up meetings to explore possibilities/interest
  • Provide information about disabilities by using a resource/strength-oriented approach
    • Check employers’ knowledge about disabilities and especially invisible disabilities
    • Strength oriented approach: inform employers about value the capacity, skills, knowledge, connections and potential in individuals rather than focusing on the disability
    • Resource oriented approach: apply career resource model
      • Identity resources that include the knowledge of one's own abilities, competencies and goals
      • Human capital resources describing technical skills, soft skills of knowledge relating to the labour market
      • Social resources, such as advantageous professional support networks, and
      • Psychological resources describing the inner attitude[1]
  • Offer pedagogical support, discuss strengths and potential weaknesses, find suitable organisational solutions. E.g. The time needed to integrate a PwD in teams and to train the new employee: Will there be a special long time of low performance?
  • Provide information about possibilities of public funding when hiring PwD
  • Research employment needs in order to react to actual employment needs
  • Organize (mutual) learning events with employers who already hired people with different labour market needs.
    • learning events can be useful to get feedback on lessons learned, positive experiences, feedback on ideas, etc.
  •  Create understanding and explore the needs and potentials of PwDs
    • Explore the needs and potentials of PwD that could work in this sector.
    • Before starting a partnership, it is important that employers understand what it means to hire PwD, the value of hiring PwD in that specific partnership
2.     Providing information before employment

What do employers need to know about employing PwD? Providing information before employing PwD is an indispensable phase in developing partnerships with employers:

  • Use an interdisciplinary team approach by defining and addressing the needs of all stakeholders: PwD, employer and social service provider
  • Make sure that as a service provider you have good knowledge of working conditions, corporate culture and companies’ needs in order to answer employers' questions.
  • Provide employer with support/case management on different topics such as workplace adjustments or “reasonable” accommodation (and the potential government support for this) – for more information see section 4- social responsibility, etc.
  • Provide an individualized and flexible case management approach, addressing all relevant issues of PwD when they arise
  • Attend matching process between possible employee and employers
    • Give feedback on job applications
    • Be present at job interviews
    • Take part in discussion for selecting the right candidate
  • Define training initiatives and special employment programs together with stakeholders/employers
    • Possible stakeholders can be e.g. expert organisations on specific disabilities, peer counselors, employment organisations, etc.
  • Attend practical trainings for employee/employers
  • Build trustworthy relationships with employers
    • Make sure employers can rely on you as a social service provider
    • Give correct and honest information and feedback to questions/issues 

3.     Providing support during and after employment

Partnerships with employers is not just about matching a PwD with an employer. A next phase is all about providing support not only during, but also after employment of PwD:

  • Provide intensive support for employers during employment
  • Propose (optional) follow-up support after employment
  • Provide coaching on the floor
    • be present for first week to make sure everything is clear between employer-employee (e.g. practical information, tasks), plan feedback/evaluation sessions with both employer-employee, be available for questions/solve issues, etc.
  • Make sure that employers feel and stay involved and are available for both social service provider and PwD when questions/issues arise: organize regular feedback sessions
  • Exchange best practices and lessons learned with partner organisations and partnership stakeholders.

In the above three stages it is important as a social service provider to be available to the employer; communicating well and responding quickly and effectively to questions and issues.

4.     Communicating & sharing success

When you have a successful partnership with an employer, it is important to spread the word. In many cases, communicating and sharing success stories is a final phase within partnerships and can help bring in new partnerships. Success stories can be shared in different ways.

Formal ways of sharing success:

  •   Official evaluation reports for subsidizing bodies
  •   Official evaluation reports with employer
  •   Internal-external evaluation report and annual report
  •   Specific publications focusing on success stories
  •  At (mutual) learning events

Informal ways of sharing success by using social media such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn

  • *Make success stories more visible by using creative methods in communicating success:
  •   Create infographics
  •   Make testimonial videos
  •   Publish interviews with employers/employer