The Quality Work Environment (QWE) implementation is similar to other continuous improvement processes; it begins with a self-assessment that enables you to pause and take stock of your agency’s current employment practices and environment for people with significant disabilities. This assessment will serve as the starting point for the focused improvements the organization plans to undertake, and enable you to measure actual forward progress. The assessment and subsequent scores are intended for agency information and internal use only.
The QWE process consists of four general phases:
1. Conduct a self-assessment to determine potential action items and best practices
2. Develop a Strategic Action Plan that outlines QWE goals
3. Learn from others when needing guidance on how to overcome a barrier
4. Implement the Strategic Action Plan to improve the quality of the work environment for employees who are blind or have significant disabilities.
The cycle of these phases will be determined by the length of time the CRP assigns to the complete all of the goals outlined in the Strategic Action Plan. Most goals in a Strategic Action Plan can be completed in one to two years. More complex goals or goals that are tiered may require up to three years for completion. It is not recommended to set goals that can’t be completed within three years. Once all goals are completed, the organization continues the QWE process by beginning the cycle again. A new self-assessment is completed and a subsequent Strategic Action Plan is developed and implemented. Organizations repeating the quality improvement cycle should submit to NISH the new Strategic Action Plan and any outstanding practices that were not previously submitted.
The QWE spreadsheet is a tool that contains the:
- QWE Self-assessment and Outstanding Practices Worksheet
- Strategic Action Plan Worksheet
- Project Plans Template
Download the QWE Self-Assessment and Other QWE forms here.
The Workforce Development Resource Library is a resource of management best practices and assistive technology solutions that enhance the quality of the work environment for AbilityOne employers. Items in the Resource Library have been provided or developed by AbilityOne agencies, rehabilitation engineers, research and design competitions. Anyone interested can search through the Resource Library to identify solutions and technology that will support QWE implementation.
The Quality Work Environment practice guidelines serve as the foundation of the QWE process. Using input from 170 National Industries for the Blind and NISH affiliated agencies, the QWE Steering Group (with strong representation from Community Rehabilitation Providers) identified 16 QWE practice guidelines in 4 areas. Each practice guideline has core and progressive elements, and examples of the core and progressive practices have been documented in each area. The core elements are those the QWE Steering Group judged to have been shown:
- to deliver positive outcomes for employees,
- to generally be in common use and / or be proven or recognized by a third party such as the International Standards Organization (ISO) or CARF.
- to be applied across diverse AbilityOne agencies.
The progressive elements build on the core elements and take an agency to the next level in terms of being more innovative or cutting-edge.
The four QWE areas and the sixteen practice guidelines are below:
100-Enhancing Wages Through Productivity, Assistive Technology, Agency Culture or Other Means
200-Creating Opportunities for Work of Choice
300-Collaborating and Linking with Community Resources
400-Provide Supports and Flexibilities in the Work Environment
Visit our Workforce Development Resource Library to see articles that relate to specific practice guidelines and for best practices.