Mathias Jørgensen joined Elgiganten as an intern, with a need for a little extra workplace adaptation. Now he has a permanent position as a store assistant and feels like he has found somewhere he really belongs.
“I look forward to going to work every day,” says Mathias Jørgensen (22) with a big smile, while clearing the shelves in the gaming department of Elgiganten’s store in Odense in Denmark. He started as an intern almost two years ago and got a permanent job just before Christmas 2021.
I feel that I am somewhere I belong. I look forward to each day!
Mathias has struggled to find his place in life. “When I was born, I did not get enough oxygen as a result of this I have learning difficulties. This means I need a little more time to understand things and slightly more thorough explanations than most other people. And that my fine motor skills are not optimal. Because of these factors, I was in a special class throughout school but I did just fine! And got good grades!”
How did you find getting a job?
“Before I became an intern at Elgiganten, I worked in a place where things didn’t really work out. I was there for about a year, but I couldn’t make it work. I wasn’t happy and did not feel cared for or appreciated. When I came here I felt welcome right away. People listened to me. Together with my mentor, Anne, we drew up a plan that worked for both of us. I received close follow-up and feedback from Anne, which made me feel secure.“
“It’s not easy to find a job that gives you a chance. But I decided to battle on and it was worth it, because I ended up here,” says Mathias looking at Anne. His dream was to work in IT support.
“It became too difficult for me, but here I have a job where I can work with computers and gaming, which I am also very interested in,” says Mathias.
What do you like most about your job?
My colleagues! And my work! And that I feel appreciated.
Mentor. “Mathias’ story is a good news story,” says Anne Lindstrøm, who has mentored Mathias from the beginning. Anne is originally from Stavanger in Norway but has lived in Odense for 23 years. At Elgiganten she is Merchandise Responsible, but when her boss asked her a few years ago if she would like to mentor interns and be their primary contact, she threw herself wholeheartedly into the task. “It’s very rewarding. I am very interested in people and love helping others, like Mathias, succeed. We have taken on several people under the same scheme who now have permanent jobs,” she says.
For three years the company has employed people who need a little facilitation to find a job where they can fit in. During that time Anne has mentored eight interns. She believes that an important prerequisite for success is that the trainees have a primary contact, as this creates security.
It is important to find out what each individual can excel at, what tasks they can enjoy and where they can flourish!
Not everyone in a company has to have the same role. Mathias works five hours a day, sometimes a little more, and we have tried our best to find the right number of hours and tasks. We constantly discuss this. And Mathias has really landed on his feet, he works hard, is willing and motivated and is a genuine resource for the business. It’s just great when that happens,” says Anne.
As an employer, you should be willing to make adaptations for those who need it and keep an open mind. You should always give people a chance if they show willingness and motivation. It is an important social responsibility.
Own flat, gaming and bowling. Getting a permanent job has enabledMathias to find his own place to live. “Now I have my own flat. I’m proud of that, says Mathias, whose flat is just a stone’s throw away from the store. He has purchased a 55-inch TV and other white goods, from Elgiganten of course. And he has furnished one of the flat’s two bedrooms as a gaming room.
“It’s cool to have my own place and nice to prove that I can manage on my own. I have become much more independent as a result. Before I shared a home with someone else. Now I do not have to think about anyone else, I can decide everything myself,” says Mathias.
He spends his spare time gaming and pursuing another hobby that is almost even more important to him – bowling! He goes bowling twice a week; he has his own bowling bag, with two specially adapted balls, and his own shoes. He also spends some of his leisure time travelling around Denmark participating in tournaments and, last May, he took part in the Special Olympics in Kolding.
Do you get nervous?
“No, because I tend to do quite well,” laughs Mathias.
Anne’s 10 tips for adapting workplaces for people with special needs 1. Show an interest in helping the individual develop. 2. Be motivating and positive. 3. Make the employee feel welcome. 4. Listen, understand and show empathy. 5. Give regular follow-up and feedback, both professionally and personally. 6. Provide work tasks that are both varied and suitable for the individual concerned. 7. Be patient and be prepared to spend a little extra time, so that the employee feels secure and understands their work tasks. 8. If the employee makes a mistake, explain to them why and show them how to do it correctly. 9. Make an effort to ensure that the person settles in, both socially and at work. 10. Let the employee know that they are appreciated.
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