Interview with Dave Shaffer from DePaul Industries

Last week, I was lucky enough to have a conversation with HR super star Dave Shaffer of DePaul Industries in my hometown of Portland, Oregon. As I’ve blogged about previously, DePaul Industries is an industry leader in hiring people with disabilities. DePaul Industries made public their goal to hire 3,900 people with disabilities to work by 2016 recently, which is when I took notice of their outstandingly ethical business practices. Mr. Shaffer and I talked about the past, present and future of DePaul, in addition to his opinions on HR best practices. You can read the interview in its entirety here.

Here’s an excerpt:

OHR: You’ve been named a ‘Best Company to Work For,’ so beyond staffing and outsourcing, you obviously provide great HR for your in-office team, as well. Any advice for small new companies on how to provide great HR with a smaller budget?

DS: First—and this may be the hardest thing to change, but it doesn’t cost anything—you have to look at the workplace culture and the autonomy you can offer employees. If they feel they can contribute and have room to make mistakes and learn, they’ll feel more ownership and engagement in the company. Instilling this kind of culture has to be authentic and not just lip service. Being friendly and nice, having an open-door policy with employees, flexibility—these are key to workplace culture.

For example, if an employee has to leave the house an hour and a half earlier just to get to work by 8:00 a.m., but can get there at 8:10 if they catch the next bus, let them come in at 8:10. Really listening to your employees, and having your employees believe and understand that they’re being listened to, is key. You’re only as strong as the weakest link. It’s important to have transparent communication. When people feel free to make suggestions, they feel more involved and in turn are more loyal and dedicated. It makes good sense for the company.

Make sure to check out the full interview! It was an honor and a pleasure to speak with an HR innovator and powerhouse such as Dave Shaffer. The work DePaul Industries does is amazing for everyone, particularly those individuals with disabilities. It is truly my pleasure to help shed light on such a wonderful company.

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