How this Calgary social enterprise is enabling happy lives

How this Calgary social enterprise is enabling happy lives

This article was originally published on July 31st, 2015 on the ENP Canada website. It has been cross-posted with permission from the author Michelle Strutzenberger, Newsroom Chair, Axiom News.

For the first time in his working life, Caleb Bethune doesn’t dread waking up to another day of work, not since he began his career as a software tester with the Calgary-based social enterprise Meticulon. Meaghan Thompson, a fellow employee, shares a similar story of being inspired and energized by her work with Meticulon.

“For the first time in my life, I am confident about what I do and how I work,” Meaghan tells the Enterprising Non-profits Canada (ENP-CA) newsroom.

She also notes that she’s thriving on “having a lot of work to do, with some very tight deadlines.”

Launched in 2013, Meticulon is energized by a mission to bring the strengths of people who have autism spectrum disorder to the software testing industry.

Caleb Bethune, a Meticulon consultant.

While both Caleb and Meaghan say they find it difficult to talk about their gifts, Caleb describes one of his core strengths in the following way: “When I’m engaged in my work, I tend to focus in to the exclusion of all other distractions; because of that I also tend to have a drive to complete tasks that I’m given, so because of that I can be fairly thorough.”

Caleb has found that listening to music while he does his work helps with staying focused. “Being able to listen to music helps immensely, just because it allows me to occupy that part of my brain that might otherwise get distracted,” he says.

Meaghan says a core strength she brings to the workplace is her diligence in staying positive. “That’s something that’s not in my character, so I have to work at it,” she adds. “My supervisor has said she appreciates how level headed and positive I stay.”

Meaghan has also gone the extra mile in taking advantage of the resources available on the Internet to learn as much as she can about her job and how to do it better.

Both Meticulon consultants say it’s the support they receive from Meticulon that makes working in the social enterprise a different and better experience than other jobs they’ve had.

“It’s nice to be able to work in an environment where I’m treated with respect,” Caleb says, alluding to “horror stories” of previous jobs in retail.

“Having a safeguard in the form of a job coach, just to in case something goes wrong, allows me to stay calm when I might otherwise panic,” he adds.

“Having Meticulon behind you through this whole process is really amazing,” Meaghan notes. “It’s like taking your best friend and your mom to an interview and having cheerleaders with you all the time.”

“They’re always supportive and they’re always there.”

Meaghan Thompson, a Meticulon consultant.

Meticulon founder and CEO Garth Johnson says the company continues to learn and evolve how it can most effectively support both its consultants and the mainstream businesses that hire them. Meticulon job coaches or employment co-ordinators work closely with Meticulon consultants through the hiring and onboarding process and then are available at strategic points.

For instance, Meticulon job coaches conduct a daily check-in with consultants on their stress levels, using that as a gauge to determine whether to provide more support to them immediately or wait for the two-week check-in that has also been established.

A key learning has been recognizing that support from the Meticulon job coaches must be directed as much to the businesses as to the consultants.

Meticulon has become increasingly aware that most of the challenges that the consultants face arise not from their capabilities – or lack thereof – or even their autism, but changes in their workplace or jobs.

The support that Meticulon offers is essentially about managing anyone in their workplace when changing their jobs and roles, Garth says. For that reason, the company has now added a second question to its daily query about stress levels. That is, “What’s changed in your workplace or job today?”

“We’ve realized that a large part of our people’s success is contingent upon how active we are in understanding how the employer is managing them and what is actually happening in their job,” Garth says.

Meticulon’s on-the-job support practices have impressed the mainstream businesses that hire its consultants, so much so that some are requesting help in setting up similar practices for their typically-abled staff.

As for Caleb and Meaghan, both express satisfaction with continuing to work and build their skills through Meticulon.

“I’ve already learned so much more than I knew four months ago when I started at this job,” Meaghan says. “I just want to keep going and expanding my skill base and learning as much as I can and see where that takes me.”

Likewise, Caleb says he’d like to continue with the work at Meticulon as it enables him to fulfil his desire to live “a happy, quiet life.”

To learn more about Meticulon, click here.

To learn more about social enterprise in Alberta, please check out Enterprising Non-Profits Alberta.

This article is part of an ENP-CA newsroom series on the experiences of front-line employees in employment social enterprises. An introductory story to the series can be found here.

To share a story about a work experience with an employment social enterprise, please contact secanada@enterprisingnonprofits.ca.

Writer: Michelle Strutzenberger

– See more at: http://www.socialenterprisecanada.ca/en/newsroom/service.prt?svcid=enp_newsroom1&iddoc=420102&page=newsDetail.tpt#sthash.JOOAcf9n.dpuf

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