“Since April our associate count is up by 31 percent, and we have increased the capacity for associates within the system by nearly 800,” Daybell said. “That’s 800 individuals and families whose lives can be blessed through this program for whom we didn’t have room before the change.”
While there has been some criticism of the move because it limits the ability of some associates to make more money and receive full-time employment benefits, Saari pointed out that the DI program has always included helping associates work with Medicaid and other health and insurance options.
"DI employment has always been seen as temporary employment," she said. "Generally speaking, our associates are only with us for a matter of months. If we're not moving them on to something better — including better salaries and benefits — then the program isn't working the way it was designed to work."
Still, Palmer said the recent policy change was not an attempt to trim the operational budget.
“By the time we’re done, we will have hired 40-60 new full-time job coaches and other staff members in order to help train this influx of workers," he said. "So we haven’t really avoided a cost increase in this. We’ve just approached it in a different way so that more lives can be blessed.”
And lives are, indeed, being blessed. Today, a little more than a year after her first bewildered day working in the Deseret Industries sorting room, Stacy is working full-time, with full benefits, at a job she really enjoys.
“I’m very grateful,” she said. “I can honestly say I love my job. I don’t think everyone can say that, but I can.”
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