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Commentary: The transformative power of job carving – A win-win approach for employers, individuals with disabilities

Daryl is a Challenge Unlimited client, shown in the photo’s center, with two generations of family owners at Andria’s Steakhouse, his job coach (far left) and Challenge Unlimited’s CEO (far right). Daryl’s position was created through job carving. (Photo courtesy of Challenge Unlimited)



In today’s business landscape, employers of all sizes and industries grapple with the challenges of recruitment, engagement, and retention of employees. An innovative solution, “job carving,” is changing the game, revolutionizing how businesses approach work and staffing needs. This groundbreaking approach benefits not only individuals with disabilities but also enhances the competitiveness and compassion of embracing businesses. 

Job carving goes beyond traditional workplace accommodations. It involves restructuring job roles to match an individual’s unique abilities, creating a mutually beneficial relationship between employee and employer. For individuals with disabilities, job carving provides a transformative opportunity. It allows them to pursue careers that align with their abilities and interests, fostering independence and self-confidence as they excel in roles tailored to their strengths. 

Challenge Unlimited, a leader in supporting individuals with disabilities in finding meaningful employment for over five decades, is at the forefront of this transformative movement. Through its Employment Services division, Challenge Unlimited collaborates closely with employers to assess business needs and provide tailored productivity solutions. A dedicated team of Job Developers gains insights into a business’s operations and engages in dialogues with owners and managers to understand employee duties and required skills. They can then recommend modifications to staffing duties, reducing turnover and matching job seekers with disabilities. 

The accommodations offered through job carving empower job seekers with disabilities by identifying suitable work tasks and job duties. This process involves careful observation, interviews, work assessments, and volunteer activities. 

A compelling example of job carving can be found in Nutrition Operations. Here, an employer redefined a part-time position to include duties tailored to a job seeker’s skill level with a disability. Another example is in the healthcare industry’s environmental services, where hospitals optimized operational efficiency by outsourcing tasks to individuals with disabilities. Job carving not only created new positions but also reallocated duties, resulting in increased productivity and improved quality. 

These examples demonstrate that job carving benefits both individuals with disabilities and employers. Employers who leverage their employees’ full potential experience increased productivity, improved retention rates, and access to a broader talent pool. 

Employers must consider the benefits of incorporating job carving into their organizations. By doing so, they can champion inclusivity and unlock the untapped potential within their workforce. For individuals with disabilities, it’s crucial to know that businesses value their unique talents and are committed to creating an inclusive environment where everyone can thrive. 

In conclusion, job carving represents a transformative shift in how we approach employment. It empowers individuals with disabilities while enhancing productivity and compassion within businesses. Employers should explore the opportunities that job carving presents, shaping a more inclusive and prosperous future for our workforce and society.

Joanna has been working at McDonald’s in Godfrey, Ill., for little more than a year now. She worked at Challenge Unlimited’s Skills Training Center to build her abilities and now has progressed into community employment. (Photo courtesy of Challenge Unlimited)



Charlotte Hammond, a tireless activist for individuals with disabilities, is making her mark as President and CEO of Challenge Unlimited, Inc. Johnathan Becker, vice president of Programs at Challenge Unlimited, has been dedicated to working with the most vulnerable individuals in our communities for more than 30 years.

As a national nonprofit organization for more than 50 years, Challenge Unlimited is headquartered in Alton, Ill., and continues to carry out a commitment to serving individuals with disabilities while earning a reputation as a trusted business partner for businesses and government agencies. For more information, visit or call (618) 465-0044.


This story also appears in the November 2023 print edition of the Illinois Business Journal.




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