The Bazaar Inc: Offering Meaningful Careers & Impact
Coaches partner with Production Assistants to identify their career goals during the Bright Endeavors’ transitional, paid job training program. Our team works diligently to create pipelines of employment with strong partners who value the well being of young moms transitioning into the workforce. One such employer partner, the Bazaar Inc. aligns with our values and is a stand out for their mission to offer people with disabilities and others who have barriers to employment meaningful careers.
Bazaar Inc. buys overstock consumer goods from major manufacturers and resells them to independent retailers across the world while also operating a small chain of retail stores called Bargains In A Box. Brad Nardick, the President and CEO describes his journey of moving their mission to offer meaningful work as being a personal one, “I had a lot of learning challenges as a kid and it always sat very wrong with me that because you grow up not perfectly fit for the education system, you’re told you’re not going to amount to much.” About 5 years ago, along with some great partners, he started working to move their mission to the center of every business operation. We recently talked with the team to learn more about how they are accomplishing this goal of offering meaningful careers and we hope their work will inspire others to put employees first, too.
Connections Are Important
The Bazaar, Inc. works with over 50 nonprofit, national and state funded organizations specifically designed to help people with disabilities and barriers to employment get jobs.
Internally, Brad began partnering with Understood, an organization dedicated to shaping a world for change where millions of people who learn and think differently can thrive at home, work and school. Chris Simler, a consultant with Understood and over 20 years experience with disability employment came on board and assessed where to introduce system improvements and culture shifts at The Bazaar and Bargains In A Box.
An integral part of working with outside partners is to create trust. “We look at this truly as a relationship, and that is how the culture has changed, is building and developing community relationships and engagement”, Chris says.
Solutions For Employees
Chris became the mastermind behind building out the organization’s standard operating procedures (SOPs) while working from everyone’s strengths. Chris notes that it’s important to start from the employee’s perspectives, “how do they see work and how do they see the world. Then we can understand our day to day work through their eyes.”
In terms of practical application, Garret Rosiek, the Bazaar’s HR and Operations guru shares this example, “we had an employee who had a couple tough nights, in the sense of if he doesn’t get sleep the night before, he really struggles when he gets into work the next day. Because he lives in an area where we have a good relationship with the people he lives with, we get emails the night before. Then we use behavior momentum where the task is a little bit more fluid, it’s a solution oriented model and mindset.”
The solution oriented mindset also applies to their business efficiency. Brad makes the business case for stepping back to analyze systems, “we started out having people do multiple things at once but it was really hard for people to change gears. It’s sort of hard for everybody to do that. We have changed our operating procedures and the restock program is 10 times more productive because everyone is just focused on singular tasks. If we didn’t do this work, we wouldn’t think of jobs in a different way. This helped us save payroll and helped us put more new product on the shelves everyday that customers are excited to shop.”
In addition to adjusting systems to work for each person, the team notes that training is extremely important for everyone. Chris says, “we train our team to understand people with disabilities, the disability community which produced greater knowledge and understanding on best practices to support people with disabilities.”
They also conduct a multitude of trainings on fear and stigma, understanding culture, and interviewing skills and supports.
Garret notes that training is immensely helpful to break the idea that everything has to be different, “training that gives our managers and people working alongside people with disabilities a holistic viewpoint of how working with someone with disabilities isn’t different because you have those stigmas and biases that are counterintuitive.” The increased training is the base for cultivating a culture shift within the organization to support their employees.
About 6 years ago, new rules under Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act mandated that all federal contractors must take affirmative action to recruit, hire, promote, and retain individuals with disabilities. With this came an interest in this type of work and also expectations for immediate change.
“Culture change is a lot of work. At the Bazaar we focus on increasing sustainability for our employees and lowering turnover, as much as this is about creating opportunity,” notes Chris.
One huge culture shift that the Bazaar implemented is a move toward working at a pace where the team can better understand their employees and who they’re working with. In Chris’ consulting experience, he has seen many fast pace companies that have long hours and therefore ultimately do not support sustainable working environments.
When moving the mission to the center of all operations in an organization, it’s not a one size fits all approach nor is it a quick fix. Brad remarks, “if the leadership group isn’t wholly aligned behind it, there’s so much messy middle to this that your program will lose steam immediately if there’s not firm belief in what you’re doing. It’s just a lot of consistent effort, and caring about what people need and wanting to set them up to succeed and how they are best suited to learn those things.”
And after all his years consulting, Chris notes that, “I’ve never worked at a company where I’ve seen such an impact in the long run as at the Bazaar.”
At the end of the day Brad says that, “when someone gets a job and it’s meaningful, they gain responsibility and contribution, that checks a lot of boxes for them to move the rest of their life forward. ”
We at Bright Endeavors couldn’t agree more which makes the team at The Bazaar, Inc great partners. Our team values connecting our Production Assistants to jobs that will consider their well being and how they work best. And we hope the insight from the team at the Bazaar and their commitment to see their employees succeed will inspire other organizations to do the same.