Do you remember your first paycheck? When I was fifteen I had worked various odd jobs for family and friends up to that point, but I got a job at a local grocery store as a bag boy. On my first payday I got a check in an envelope that looked so official. Boxes full of Information and taxes withheld, It felt like a big deal. I was so proud of myself. I went and opened a bank account to put my money in. It wasn’t like anything changed much, I still lived with my parents, I was still driving an old beat up car. That paycheck would not have taken me far, but it was a moment of pride. It made me feel like I was becoming an adult. It was a great feeling. Sadly, the faster and more complex we have made our society and market place, the more we are leaving individuals behind. Good people with skills and drive, who may need more training than others but can have a job and keep it successfully. Most jobs in manufacturing have moved on to other countries or become automated. Other jobs, like farming used to require a lot more labor than they do today. While companies would be happy in the past with doing well and treating people well for a career of thirty years or more. Now days it is more about squeezing every penny from the company or making sure their paycheck is on par with other executives.
The sense of satisfaction and the connection to our community through our jobs has been lost to all of us, but to more and more it is changing us from productive and even fulfilled to lost and broken. Our podcast this month is one wonderful example of how with a little effort and planning one company is making a difference in two ways. Blue Star Recyclers in Colorado Springs is a business with a mission to create local jobs for those with developmental disabilities and recycle electronic equipment so it doesn’t end up in the landfill. With an unemployment rate for individual with these types of special needs of over 80% in Southern Colorado you can imagine jobs would be hard to find. Blue Star employee’s seventeen locally and is working throughout Colorado to help other groups do the same in their own communities. Bill Morris the CEO saw an opportunity to set up and train individuals hoping to give them skills they could then take out to other jobs in the community. What Bill explains, they found was a dedicated work force who enjoy what they do and have pride in the job they do. Bill explained to me that when he talks with other recyclers who use a traditional model they have a employee turn over rate of over six hundred percent. Bill’s group has none. We need to remember that in this world success has many measurements, and most of the ones we use, aren’t really success at all.