Dayle Olson came to Brevard Achievement Center (BAC) 22 years ago.  Olson was a special education teacher transplanted from Iowa and looking for a slight change in direction.  Like many employees who land at Brevard Achievement Center, Olson stayed.  He became the President/Executive Director in 1994. 

            One thing which makes BAC unique within the Brevard County business community—profit and non-profit–is their remarkable ability to hang on to their employees.  Brevard Achievement Center is a rehabilitation center created specifically to provide employment for persons who are developmentally delayed or mentally retarded.  It is a non-profit, sheltered workshop with their main facility in Rockledge.  While their expertise has expanded over the years to include many disabilities, BAC has fiercely clung to their original mission to service this cloistered subculture.  As an organization, their salary package has never been able to aggressively compete with the private sector; yet they maintain a high retention rate among their employees. 

            Ryan Rogers, Vice President of Administration, believes their ability to keep employees extends from fiercely maintaining their mission.  “Our mission, helping people who are disabled lead more productive lives, is the heart of our world.  As staff, we feel good about what we do.”  Chris Daughtery, receptionist at the Rockledge center and long-term employee, echoed that sentiment, “When I go home at night, I have a sense of accomplishment.  I have made another person’s life better.  That is a good thing.”

            Executive Director Dayle Olson said, “As an organization, we live and breathe our mission.  We are passionate about helping people to succeed.  We do more than believe that others can achieve a more productive life; we make it happen.  We live what we say.”  According to Olson, new employee orientation centers on training staff about the BAC mission, explaining how the business strives to make the lives of others more successful.

            Olson reported, “Another key element in employee satisfaction is the company’s policy to take their ideas and suggestions seriously.  Our staff and the people we serve are intimately invested in the success of the organization because their proposals are taken seriously.  While we may not implement each one, we always sincerely consider them.” 

            This policy of listening is deeply imbedded in the history of BAC.  Almost 20 years ago, the consumers serviced by BAC, complained to management that there was not enough work.  While the company executives believed that there were plenty of jobs, they listened.  A work study was conducted which proved that the consumers were right.  There was a lot of down time. Too much of the time, the consumers were not being productive.  Immediately, changes were made.  BAC united with the Brevard County Board of Education and brought in Adult Education classes.  This radical change in direction resulted in better training, more productive consumers and new funding.

            Olson and Rogers agreed that another factor which helps to obtain staff contentment is the management insistence that staff leave their job at the job.  “This is not a 60 hour a week, kill or be killed, profession,” said Rogers. 

“Yet in many ways, working in the non-profit world can be more stressful than other professions.  I insist that we work hard and play hard,” reported Olson.  “Therefore, I want our employees to leave the job, go home and play.”

            Rogers believes that preserving a positive environment is another vital ingredient to employee satisfaction.  “Years ago, there was a family feeling at BAC.  As we have expanded that feeling has been replaced by a team experience.  We have lost some of the intimacy but the sense of a common goal has not been lost.” 

During the years, the federal government has expanded their efforts to include the disability community into their contracting process.  BAC has aggressively sought and won several of these contracts.  More lucrative federal contracts have allowed the team spirit to thrive.  These contracts have taken up the financial lack in divisions of the organization which struggle fiscally.  Each component of the team knows that they are playing an essential function in fulfilling BAC’s mission of bringing success to people who are disadvantage.

Shirley Ebelink, Vice President of Human Resources, summed up the staff retention success of BAC, “There is a sense of doing a valuable work that invigorates all of us.  We are directly impacting people’s lives.  Whether we are finding employment or teaching the basic skill of counting money, we are making the world a better place one person, one day, at a time.”