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Human Resources: Targeted Workers Create Opportunity

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Rosenblum says WOTC candidates have to fight stereotypes that they are unmotivated, untrainable, and unreliable. "That is really at the heart of the issue, that there are perceptions around this population that are quite negative," she says. "You have to anticipate that they will bring with them some additional training and support needs. That is why this tax credit is in place. It is a recognition both of the risk that employers are taking and that it takes some extra effort to help them be successful."

Diamond says the training involved for home healthcare aides who make up about 90% of Addus' workforce is "fairly simple." And while he has no firm data on the subject, Diamond says he has no sense that turnover is higher among WOTC employees.

"We've never segregated out those employees from the rest of the workforce," he says. A far bigger factor, he says, is the arduous nature of the work. "We find the majority of our turnover occurs early on in the first three to six months of employment. The vast majority of our folks self-select out. Once we get past a certain point, though, we have very good retention over folks who have been with us two years or more."

While the bottom line figures prominently in any hiring decision, there is also the unmistakable feel-good factor in all of this. Hiring a WOTC worker may be a gamble, but there is tremendous upside, too. Diamond says many Addus home health aides serve in the communities where they live. "It's a plus for the community to have people from the community serving the elderly in that community. We are helping to serve a needy population with folks from the community. It is just a tremendously positive service."

John Commins

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