Bob Morden, 38, remembers 1995 as the year he found himself short-staffed and stressed-out. To best serve customers, the Wendy's franchisee needed about 20 people on the floor, but due to too many sick calls, he sometimes could open only one or two registers.
Morden's solution came in the form of a job placement counselor from Gulfstream Goodwill Industries Inc., a community service organization in Riviera Beach, Florida, who asked him if he'd be interested in employing developmentally and physically challenged workers.
What started with one disabled worker manning the french fry machines has expanded into an average of 17 disabled employees--more than half Morden's staff. He could apply to get compensation for the disabled employees he hires, but Morden doesn't find it necessary. "I always [say] I need compensation for the nondisabled people," he laughs.
Joking aside, Morden can honestly say his disabled employees are among his most dedicated: Few fast-food workers would in-line skate eight miles to work. But that's exactly what one member of Morden's staff did the day an accident halted his bus' path.
Morden doesn't want to give his West Palm Beach, Florida, store's skyrocketing sales figures away, but he believes the dedication of his disabled employees has boosted his success. He'd use more disabled employees if their organizations provided transportation at night.
Of his employment policy, Morden says: "My door's always open. When [counselors] come in, I tell them if they're interested in placing somebody and closing their file, then our relationship will be short. But if they're interested in the person fitting in and backing them up, we can have a good relationship."