In the maze of sounds
Florent Rashiti has a severe hearing disability that often makes conversations hard for him. Despite this, he is successfully proving himself as an apprentice in an Migros store in Bern.
An elderly customer asks Florent Rashiti where she can find the coffee filters. She not only talks quite quietly but is also wearing a thick FFP2 mask. The young Migros employee listens very carefully, nods with a smile and takes the woman straight to the right shelves.
A perfectly normal scene not really worthy of mentioning? Perhaps so for the customer, but for the 23-year-old, such conversations with people he doesn’t know are often a challenge. He has great knowledge of his supermarket, Migros Bubenberg by Bern’s main railway station, and knows exactly where to find any product. However, Florent has had severely impaired hearing since birth. Two powerful hearing aids in his earlobes help him during everyday life. If necessary, he is also able to lip-read people, except that this is no longer possible as everyone in the shop wears masks.
Loud noises and clinking
Florent can also struggle with all the background noise in the Migros store. When cash clinks, ventilation systems whir or promotions are announced over the PA system, he finds it even harder to understand customers, who may already be talking relatively unclearly. «My hearing aids automatically dampen extremely loud noise,» says Florent. «This can be advantageous if I’m receiving an order on the ramp behind the store and a pallet suddenly crashes onto the floor, for example. On the other hand, I once only heard a test fire alarm very quietly and didn’t realise what it was.»
Despite such difficulties, the future retail assistant feels very much at home at his Migros. He is interested in the different ranges and wants to understand exactly how the store works. «Räschu», as his colleagues know him, is extremely well integrated into the 35-strong team. «We all value his work,» says store manager Shaip Avdullahi (33). «He’s got great motivation and his cheerful demeanour gives everyone a daily boost.»
I was given a chance here.
Florent Rashiti apprentice
Florent Rashiti has not experienced such esteem everywhere that he has worked. His professional development has involved several setbacks. He started out doing a mechanic apprenticeship in a workshop that made railway track parts for Swiss Federal Railways (SBB). «I had very little confidence at the time,» the Bern native recalls. «I was constantly worried about doing something wrong, so bombarded my colleagues and superiors with questions. I found it hard to complete tasks independently.» By the time he finished his apprenticeship, he knew that the career was not for him.
He subsequently spent a while working in logistics in a large hospital warehouse where he remained relatively anonymous before trying for a new start at Migros Bubenberg at age 22. «I was welcomed with open arms,» says Florent. «I instantly felt that people wanted to give me a chance and I’ve learned a great deal ever since day one. My vocational trainer and the store manager quickly became confidants, who I can even talk to about problems.»
Customers become colleagues
Florent’s impaired hearing meant that customer contact was initially testing. But on the odd occasion when he had to ask someone to repeat something that he had not understood, hardly anyone was impatient with him. «I also like the fact that lots of vocational trainees and students shop here,» says Florent. «It’s great to come into contact with so many people of my own age while working. I’ve come to know some of them and always greet them.»
Looking back, he sees his career to date like a flight of stairs: «I had to climb a step at a time but in doing so grew in confidence and gained better overall insight.»
Sometimes, Florent’s impaired hearing and the special skills associated with it are even an advantage at work. For example, when a deaf customer once had questions about his Cumulus vouchers, Florent jumped straight in and was able to assist him in sign language.
Inclusion at Migros
Inclusion is part of Migros’ DNA. It is a natural part of everyday working life. People from all kinds of backgrounds work for the company, people with physical and psychological disabilities, and Migros also helps socially disadvantaged young people on their path into and through the world of work.
As such, Migros is fulfilling its social responsibility whilst also benefitting from the advantages this brings in the labour market, by not excluding workers from the outset and looking for solutions and ways to integrate people with disabilities. This means they can use their skills to contribute to Migros’ success. You can find more on Migros' commitment at migros.ch/jobs
Photos: Monika Flueckiger