Increase Employee Performance with the Smart Steps Mobile App
The Smart Steps Mobile app is a decision-making tool for everyday stressors such as getting lost, a late ride, a question at work or forgetting lunch. To get started, choose a scenario.
The Smart Steps Mobile app takes the user through a decision making process by presenting options, one step at a time. Practical suggestions, tips, and social scripts are built in just at the moment needed.
The decision-making process ends on one of two screens: a thumbs up sign if the decision is made or a prompt to get help.Additionally, the help button at the bottom of the screen can be used at any time. The Call for Help screen and the Help button lead to a list of personal emergency contacts; the employee would select who to text or call. Other features include a map button, which leads to the phone’s built-in map, and a profile screen, which can be shown to an emergency responder or other person.
As unemployment rates have fallen, employers are increasingly aware that, not only are persons with disabilities reliable employees, it just makes good business sense to hire them. At the same time, employers need some basics from their employees. They need to show up on time, have a good attitude, and do their job effectively. To meet these expectations, some people with disabilities may need support to perform at their best; accommodations are necessary at times, but typically are very easy to provide and very cost effective.
Accommodations come in all forms. The Smart Steps Mobile App can be a great accommodation for the employee who might need assist with critical thinking, decision making and problem solving related to the specifics of their job tasks. What can an employer do to address individual needs in a reasonable way in order to increase employee performance?
Orientation and training are initial opportunities to explain and demonstrate overall job expectations and tasks, though when beginning a new job, all new employees experience at least some minor anxiety. They might even experience short term memory issues and as a result, miss what is being explained. Struggles may in turn become apparent in the initial days and weeks of employment. Some employees with a specific learning disability may:
- Forget routines.
- Have difficulty focusing.
- Appear disorganized.
- Forget to return from break.
- Make decisions not fully thought out.
- Ignore a customer or say “I don’t know.”
- Clash with co-workers and supervisors.
What can an employer do in order to improve an employee’s performance and increase retention?
The use of accommodations is growing as employers realize that it’s good for business to hire and retain workers with disabilities. When employees have physical disabilities, assistive technology can enable them to be successful in the workplace. For persons with mental health or learning disabilities, accommodations may not as obvious. Support can vary from providing a quiet space for break time, a less distracting work area, a shortened work schedule, a visual aid or written list indicating steps in a task, labels in the storeroom, or a timer in the breakroom. What can employers do about social skills or critical thinking skills?
What About Soft Skills and Critical Thinking Skills?
Soft skills and critical thinking skills are challenging because the response can vary according to context. Options need to be considered according to variables such as time of day, location, and resources in the immediate environment. The employer may note that some individuals:
- Need tips regarding customer services skills.
- Are shy or awkward when around co-workers and may not mix well at first.
- Appear rude to their boss.
While job orientation is a time to establish and teach expectations for interacting with people at work and taking initiative to solve problems, some scenarios may arise unexpectedly. As a result of not being able to respond to situations appropriately, some workers with disabilities most often lose or quit a job because of soft skills rather than an inability to do the job. Are there accommodations for these types of issues?
An Accommodation for Some Learning Disabilities
The Smart Steps Mobile app is an accommodation that can be used for some individuals who need help making decisions, following steps in order, and solving problems. Here’s a sample scenario:
Emmanuel is a new employee, and he finds himself running into several decision making issues. His ride to work is unreliable. He is quiet and doesn’t interact with employees much, so he doesn’t ask them for tips regarding work tasks. He dropped an item and didn’t clean up the mess. He got sick at work one day and left without telling anyone. Otherwise, he stays on task and appears to have a good attitude. He’s just having trouble getting acclimated with his job and handling unexpected situations.
With the Smart Steps Mobile app, Emmanuel has a tool that he can rely on for both routine tasks and non-routine issues. The app contains a list of decision trees that walk him through a situation such as a late ride, one step at a time. It contains practical reminders such as “stay at the bus stop and have your things ready” and social skills tips at the moment needed, such as “smile and say thank you”. If he needs to access a helpful person nearby, the app will give him a sample question to ask such as “Can you tell me if bus – is running on time?” If Emmanuel is not able to solve his problem, the app prompts him to get help. The help button leads to a list of personalized contacts who may be available via voice or text.
The next time Emmanuel drops and breaks something, he can open up the Smart Steps Mobile app and tap on a tree “Broke Something”. There he will be reminded of clean-up procedures, where to find the broom and dustpan, where to put the trash, and how to document the incident if needed. If the broom is missing, the name of a go-to person is mentioned. Emmanuel feels confident about fixing the problem instead of walking away in avoidance. His supervisor feels better about Emmanuel growing as an employee.
Decision Trees Are Flexible
Content for the app, called Decision Trees, can be written exclusively for a business through a group license. For example, a store could have decision trees for:
- Ringing up a customer according to method of payment, with tips for credit, debit, cash and purchase orders. It would include reminders to smile and thank the customer.
- How to stock and display merchandise, including reminders to use gloves in the bakery department.
- How to take a customer order by phone.
- How to handle carts in the parking lot, with safety tips.
- How to respond to customer questions when they don’t know the answer.
- Expectations for interacting with co-workers. Conversations starters for the break room.
- How and when to ask for a day off.
- What to do if sick at work.
- How to call in if late or sick.
- What to do if overwhelmed.
Content Can Be Customized
An individual can make a copy of the decision trees provided by the business and edit as needed. If the business has not created a group account, the employee can have an individual license and develop personalized content from scratch. Decision trees built into the free version of the app may be useful as well.
Learning and emotional issues can be difficult to support in some cases. The Smart Steps Mobile app is geared to help with this and take employees one step closer to employment success.
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