It’s International Volunteer Day!
Many employees get involved with voluntary service aside from their daily jobs, for instance as trainer officers or as part of the site fire department. Today on December 5 we celebrate the International Volunteer Day by having a look at two committed employees – Michael Schneidereit and Peter Maier, who talk about what drives them, which tasks they face and how important voluntary work is.
If you ask Peter Maier and Michael Schneidereit about their roles as Disability Representatives, it may seem to you at first that they're speaking an entirely different language. They rattle off obscure references such as "Section 74 consultation", "Section 90 consultation", "workplace integration management", "VdK", "IG-BCE"... the list is endless. Clearly, they both have to deal with a lot of very dry material and need to be experts in their field. They know all about social legislation, pensions, occupational health and safety, etc. Despite this, their roles have, above all, a very human dimension.
After all, if colleagues become ill or are limited in the work they can do because of a disability, then there's much more at stake than just a job. Every aspect of a person's life is affected. Peter and Michael help ensure that the individuals involved can continue to live their lives to the fullest extent possible.
Peter Maier is responsible for around 170 employees with disabilities in Penzberg, while Michael Schneidereit represents around 400 employees with disabilities in Mannheim. Both men are 58 years old and now work full-time in their roles as Disability Representatives, supported by part-time volunteers. Peter Maier is a biotechnologist by profession and says: "I'm very grateful to my colleagues in my department for supporting my voluntary work for so many years." Michael Schneidereit is a member of the Works Council in Mannheim. Both were elected as Disability Representatives by disabled employees in the company.
Filling out forms, filling people with hope
Mental illness, orthopaedic problems, cancer, chronic diseases, visual or hearing impairment, impaired mobility, addictions – Peter and Michael encounter individuals dealing with a wide range of issues. The type of support they offer is equally diverse. Both provide practical assistance, e.g. with filling out forms or workplace adjustments, such as removing door sills for ease of access or organising assistive technology. But that's not all. They also offer an open ear and seek to give people a real sense of hope. "We're here for any worry or needs that may arise", they say.
It's definitely not a job you can leave behind in the office at the end of the day. "But that's also what makes it special. The job is often very moving on a deep level." So sensitivity is a must. But assertiveness and negotiating skills are just as important.