YAI Recognized by Newsday as a Top Workplace of 2019
On October 27, a nonprofit that provides services to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) throughout Long Island was recognized as one of the region’s top employers. YAI – Seeing Beyond Disability, was one of 80 employers who received Newsday’s 2019 Top Long Island Workplaces award. The organization, which is headquartered in Manhattan, employs more than 500 staff on Long Island that support people with autism, Down syndrome, and other types of I/DD with housing, socialization programs, and vocational training.
The Newsday recognition is based exclusively on feedback gathered through an anonymous third-party survey of more than 16,000 employees on Long Island. The survey measures various aspects of work culture, taking into account different measures which contribute to a positive and productive work environment.
“The Top Workplaces award is about much more than recognition and celebration,” said Eric Rubino, CEO of Energage, the research partner that administered the survey. “Our research also shows that these organizations achieve higher referral rates, lower employee turnover, and double the employee engagement levels. It just goes to show that being intentional about culture delivers bottom-line results.”
Decreased staff turnover and higher employee engagement are two of the crucial factors that set YAI apart from other human services nonprofits.
“In organizations like ours, a healthy work culture is paramount,” said George Contos, CEO of YAI. “Staff that know they are supported and recognized aren't just happier, but they're also more likely to stay. While staff retention is important for any employer, it's especially critical in our field. For people with intellectual and developmental disabilities who rely on direct support staff for their everyday needs, that continuity of care is essential for their stability and peace of mind."
Mary Brady, YAI’s Regional Director for Long Island, said that by eliminating silos between the agency’s various programs and houses on Long Island, YAI has developed a strong culture of collaboration.
“People always remark on how organized we are in terms of structure and training,” Brady said. “The other day I was visiting our Huntington program and a supervisor from our Bay Shore program came in. It turned out that she was getting training from a veteran supervisor at Huntington. There’s such a great team mentality here.”
Brady added that the agency’s most senior leaders on Long Island have been with the agency for 30 years or more, creating a sense of camaraderie throughout the region. Moreover, employees at every level are recognized for the work they do and are given many opportunities for advancement.
“Working in I/DD services can be demanding, so it’s important to let staff know what a great job they’re doing – I feel like you can’t say that enough,” Brady said. “Most importantly, we train and promote from within, so there are always opportunities from growth, no matter where you start in the agency.”
As YAI continues to expand its services within Long Island’s I/DD community, Brady said that Long Islanders who are interested in moving into the field should keep their eyes open for new job listings within the agency.
“When we hire, we do so from within the local area where people know the community and landscape,” she said. “YAI’s Long Island region is a great place to work because of amazing staff we’ve found here. They’re everything.”